The mulch piled so high around this tree — a mulch volcano — will eventually kill it. “It acts like a wet sock and shoe, and eventually rots the trunk of the tree,” Scott Evans said.

Scott Evans calls them mulch volcanoes.

And they are popping up around trees all over the city.

Evans, horticulture program coordinator for the Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties, finds it difficult not to pull out his trowel to save every tree he sees buried under mulch.

Yes, that’s save the tree. Because piling too much mulch directly against the trunk will kill your tree.

“It acts like a wet sock and shoe, and eventually rots the trunk of the tree,” Evans said.

There are many benefits to using mulch in your gardens. It helps to retain moisture and cuts down on weeds.

But that same moisture isn’t good for bark, which is not waterproof. So to protect your trees and plants, always leave an inch band around them clear of the wood chips.

Don’t use too much mulch, either. Evans said a depth of about 2 inches spread out 18 to 24 inches from the tree is perfect.

Evans finds the mulch volcanoes very depressing, because he knows they’re going to kill the tree. Others are upset, too, because they’ll call the extension office, wanting action.

“We are not the mulch police,” Evans said. “We’re an education entity and not an enforcement entity.”


More than 50,000 daffodils are blooming at Lauritzen Gardens.

Dazzling daffodils at Lauritzen

More than 50,000 daffodils are in bloom at Lauritzen Gardens, one of the largest mass plantings of the bulbs in the Midwest.

Last fall, staff and volunteers planted 52,000 bulbs to establish a daffodil walk along the main garden road. The bulbs are planted from the rose garden to the Founders’ Garden in an area the length of about 2½ football fields and about 15 to 20 feet deep.

All three of the varieties planted along the walk are known for their large flowers.

“Nothing quite captures the feeling of the arrival of spring like a field blanketed with yellow and white daffodils,” said John Newman, executive director of Lauritzen Gardens.

The daffodil walk is part of the garden’s goal to establish a million daffodil blooms in the garden each spring. Contributions from the community made last fall’s planting happen, and the garden is seeking contributions in order to continue the project’s growth and plant another 50,000 daffodil bulbs in the fall of 2019.

Virginia bluebells, hyacinths, squill, grape hyacinths and the first tulips of the season are adding color to the landscape.


» Crabgrass preventative can start going down early next week.

» Now is the time to cut dead material from last year off your perennials, if you haven’t already.

» Hold off on planting things such as impatiens and tomatoes. “It’s too cold,” Evans said.

» The Spring Affair, the Midwest’s biggest plant sale and garden event, is next weekend at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln. A preview party is set for Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., with reservations required. The plant sale is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s event features more than 800 varieties of plants, with talks, concessions and vendors.

» The City Nature Challenge begins Friday. The four-day competition between cities and regions around the world encourages people to spot and record as many slices of nature as they can find. Take a picture and report your findings on the iNaturalist app, and then track Omaha’s progress at

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Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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