Ideas & Inspiration

How to Insulate Your Garden with Mulch

How to Protect Your Plants with Mulch
A garden bed with mulch
  • Clean. Pull up old plants and weeds. Compost plants in a pile or compost bin. Discard weeds.
  • Trim. From the edge of raised beds, trim back weeds and grasses with a spade or edging tool.
  • Aerate. Break up and aerate compacted mulch with a spading fork.
  • Top. Cover with a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch, such as chopped leaves or wood chips.
  • Add. Around the base of raised beds, add a thick layer of wood chips to make mowing easier and reduce trimming.
How to Use a Mulch Ring
A ring of mulch around a tree

A ring of mulch around the drip line of a tree helps control erosion and keeps mowers at a safe distance so they don’t injure trunks and roots. Use ready-made mulch rings, or make your own. 


Do not "volcano" mulch or allow mulch to touch the trunk; both can cause trunk rot and disease and eventually kill the tree.


Here are the types of mulch rings for your trees:

  • Recycled rubber. A good choice for eco-friendly gardeners. They don’t decompose, you won’t find bits of rubber scattered around and they let in water and nutrients.
  • Planting rings. These water rounds are bottomless basins with teeth that press into the ground. Made of recycled plastic, they’re also good for gardeners who like to go green. You can even use them on a slope, or where the ground is hard or heavy in clay. The rings will hold rainfall or water from your hose so it can soak into the ground, instead of running off or evaporating. You can add 2 to 4 inches of mulch in each ring to help retain more moisture.
  • Hardscape ring. Use a hose to make a circle, and carefully remove all grass and weeds from inside the circle. Go wide to cover more of the tree’s roots. Be careful to not disturb the roots. Add edging, such as pavers, bricks or stones, just outside the circle. Use a spade or shovel to cut a shallow trench deep enough to hold whatever type of edging you prefer. Put the edging in place. Fill the ring with 2 to 4 inches of mulch.
  • Pre-made tree ring. A pre-made ring is an eco-friendly mat that looks and performs like organic mulch but doesn’t decompose or scatter. This tree ring is a snap to install. Simply trace the mat around the tree and use a shovel to outline the shape. Remove all grass and weeds from inside the circle, being careful not to disturb the roots of the tree. Place mat and water well.

To help you estimate how much mulch you need, visit our Mulch and Top Soil Calculator


For raised beds where you’ll grow crops in winter, pine bark nuggets are a great choice, especially for strawberries or for fruits being grown in large containers.For raised beds where you’ll grow crops in winter, pine bark nuggets are a great choice, especially for strawberries or for fruits being grown in large containers. Whether you need the right tools, seedlings or potting soil, The Home Depot delivers online orders where and when you need them.