I'd like to put something decorative in the circle of dirt between the mulch ring and the base of a tree. Are there any options that are considered acceptable? A thin layer of decomposed granite? Same thing pea gravel? White stone? Large bark chips that will still allow moisture and air to exchange or dry away?

  • Do you mean you want to put something up against and around the trunk of the tree?
    – Bamboo
    Aug 6 '20 at 10:31
  • Yes. I realize this is >generally< verboten. But that stricture is usually for traditional mulches and other ill-considered materials. It seems that something that allows air and water to move freely into the soil without trapping moisture against the trunk or creating an environment that might promote other undesirable conditions should be OK. I'm just wondering if there is an acepted (usual?) approach.
    – mblatz01
    Aug 6 '20 at 13:15
  • edit: not necessarily >right< up against it but close, like an inch away or whatever.
    – mblatz01
    Aug 6 '20 at 13:31

There's no reason why you can't extend the mulch cover to within an inch or two of the trunk, assuming the mulch is something of organic origin, isn't too deep, and won't be sitting over any tree roots showing above the soil. Organic mulches (composted materials, bark chips and so on) are preferable to inorganic mulches because the latter don't improve the soil in any way, whereas something organic does, as it rots down.

You don't say what tree it is, but whether it is deciduous or evergreen, there will be leaves (or needles for conifers) and other debris from the tree which will collect over any type of stone, and that can be difficult to manage. Whatever falls onto it will rot down; trying to remove wet leaves is particularly difficult, even removing dry leaves will disturb the layer of stone, and small needles will be impossible to remove.

  • Various trees, including Oak, Yaupon, Holly, and Juniper. Yeah...leaves are always an issue, even with regular mulch. If not mine, then my neighbors to either side. Mostly I am just going for a color offset (my mulch is pretty much same color as the dirt). I may just use a large colored bark. A friend also suggested pecan shells..fairly plentiful here in North Texas. Both seem like reasonable/workable solutions at this point...
    – mblatz01
    Aug 6 '20 at 15:47

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