From Our Friends At Sustainable Saratoge: Mulch Volcanoes Kill Trees


Let’s end this deadly decorative fad that has swept the landscaping industry.


In May 2015, Sustainable Saratoga sent out an e-blast with our first-ever Forestry Tip, “Mulch Volcanoes Kill Trees – Let’s end their use in Saratoga.” In Spring 2016, some concerned citizen(s)—as yet unidentified—started putting out lawn signs to shed light on the problem.  DPW Commissioner Scirocco put this issue on his agenda for Aug 16, 2016. This document summarizes Sustainable Saratoga’s views, based on our current research into this deadly practice.


“Mulch volcanoes” are a fad that puts decorative landscape tidiness above the well-being of our trees. Trees are a cost-effective part of our urban infrastructure that will “pay us back” if we let them survive and thrive.  They are a major investment in our future.  Let’s stop killing them.


Don’t take Sustainable Saratoga’s word for it. Tree experts from Cornell, from across New York State, and from around the country have all condemned “mulch volcanoes” as extremely harmful to the health of trees.  Check out the links below for more details about how “mulch volcanoes” kill.

“This Old House,” the popular PBS TV show, produced a video segment in which they dug up a mulch volcano to explore the damage.

Prof. Nina Bassuk, noted tree expert from Cornell’s Urban Horticultural Institute, is widely quoted in her warnings against “mulch volcanoes.”  Experts from Cornell’s Cooperative Extension, and from the agricultural extension services of the University of Illinois, North Carolina State, and the University of Missouri-Columbia have attacked the practice. Maine’s Master Gardeners republished the U. Missouri information.

The Alliance for Community Trees, one of the foremost national tree advocacy groups, has worked to educate the public about the dangers of using “mulch volcanoes.”

Some cities and municipal tree steward programs have used their urban forestry websites to educate against “mulch volcanoes.”

Some progressive, well-informed arborists, landscape professionals, and consultants have bucked the industry trend by using their websites to call for an end to “mulch volcanoes.”


YOU CAN HELP.   HELP SPREAD THE WORD.  Share this information widely.  Share it with friends and neighbors.  With your landlord.  With condo owners.  With businesses you patronize.   With developers.  With anyone who has responsibility for maintaining commercial properties where “mulch volcanoes” are killing trees.

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