Trees vs. Turf

The ideal surrounding for a tree is more like what you will find in the forest than our urban landscapes. In this blog, we will discuss the competition between trees and turf and the benefits of mulch.

When you think about a forest setting, you realize there is very little grass. Most turf requires part-full sunlight, and in the constant shade of a tree’s canopy, grass will not survive.

Trees and Sunlight

Turf looks great in our yards, but it is also competing with our trees for many resources including sunlight, water, space, and nutrients. Irrigation systems are normally programmed to water grass and not trees, so they don’t benefit our landscape trees. Trees need less frequent and longer soakings, so relying on irrigation systems alone can deprive the trees of much-needed water.

Tree RootsTo fully understand the competition that occurs between trees and turf, you need to understand where the roots of each grow. Most people don’t realize that most of the fine absorbing roots from trees are in the upper few inches of soil and spread out 2-3 times the width of the tree canopy. This is in direct competition with grass roots for space, water, and nutrients. The competition between turf and trees has even shown to reduce a tree’s root growth.

Mulch is a great way to provide fertility and retain moisture for the tree’s roots. Mulch mimics the forest setting which constantly has organic matter decomposing on the top surface of the soil.  Adding a mulch ring around your tree eliminates competition with turf, is aesthetically pleasing to landscapes, adds nutrients, provides temperature control, and protects the tree trunk from mower damage.

Mulch DescriptionIt is important to know that there is a proper way to install mulch. A large ring of organic mulch should be placed around the tree to protect roots. Mulch should never touch the tree trunk which can trap moisture and cause trunk rot. It should also never be mounded more than 4-6 inches high, which can suffocate the roots. 

At Cherokee Tree Care, we value the health, structure, and aesthetics of your trees and strive to inform our customers of how to better care for their landscape trees.