BENEFITS OFMULCHING: 1 Reduces competition from turf and weeds. 2 Moderates soil moisture and temperature.

3 Helps prevent mower and string trimmer injuries. 4 Creates a better environment for soil microbes. The ideal mulch consists of coarse wood chips several inches thick, spread over as much of the root zone as practi- cal, but not against the trunk. WHATABOUT FERTILIZING? Applying moderate amounts of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to the soil over the root zone of young to mature trees helps their growth and survival. Trees past maturity or that are deteriorating as they age should not be fertilized. In general, any modification to the ecosystem of your trees will need to be done slowly and gradually, as they do not respond to rapid change. Trees usually cannot be cured of problems, but with proper care, their life may be extended. 1 Don’t dig in the root zone. Careful planning can ensure that the root system is not endangered when digging for underground utilities, removing or repairing sidewalks or driveways, constructing curbs and engaging in other similar activities. If the root system is compromised, the tree’s ability to sustain itself will be, too. 2 Don’t pave over too much of the drip line. Tree roots need access to oxygen and water. The drip line (root area extending from the trunk) needs to be protected to remain healthy.  3 Don’t change the grade. Changing the ground level around a tree can be very detrimental. If roots are buried too far underneath the surface, the tree literally can suffocate. If you are re-grading a landscaped area, don’t pile excess soil around the tree. HOWTO PROTECTTREES DURING CONSTRUCTION FIVE THINGS TO AVOID:

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BreAnn Stephenson is assistant vice president of Affinity Loss Preven- tion Services. Contact her at

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