Spotlight on Sustainability: Mulch Madness
By: Lexi Neukirch
The UK campus landscape is often noted for its beautiful fall colors and spring tulips, but many overlook the soil that nourishes these plants. Across campus, mulch is used around trees, big and small, to remediate soil compaction and help prevent mechanical damage to trees. To bring more attention to campus tree care, the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) in partnership with the UK Physical Plant Division (PPD) hosted Mulch Madness on October 8th, 2015. During the event, student volunteers planted trees and applied several truckloads of mulch to trees in around the William T. Young Library. UK has earned the Tree Campus USA designation every year since 2011, a process that requires fulfilling five standards defined by the Arbor Day Foundation. Each year the school satisfies its standards with unique projects, and this year the Mulch Madness event supported the the Service
Learning Project requirement of standards. The Mulch Madness event targeted the entire student body while specifically reaching out to groups with specific interests in campus sustainability, such as Greenthumb, the Greenhouse Living-Learning Program, and Forestry and NRES majors. Correct mulch care is critical in developing healthy urban forests, but many people are unaware of how to correctly care for trees. Amanda Williams, a key facilitator of the event and an intern with UFI, elaborates, “We are the main drivers of the health, distribution, and care of the trees and plants which make-up the urban forest. One of the more simple and effective ways to provide protection is to create a mulch buffer around trees. If some mulch is a good thing, more is better – right? No!!! A mulch buffer can negatively affect the health of trees if it is too deep or piled against the trunk in a “mulch volcano.” This project gave students a handson learning experience in proper mulching and planting techniques. It was also a chance for members of the UK community to give back through environmental stewardship towards the trees that we enjoy every day on UK’s Campus. The upcoming Mulch Madness will be held April 5th from 2-6pm. More information about this event and how to get involved can be found at https:// ukntrees.ca.uky.edu/events/mulch-spring-2016-form
Pictured above: (top) the Mulch Madness event volunteers; (bottom) volunteers planting a tree infant at the W.T. Young Library.