The crown of trees and woody plants, located at the soil line, should not be covered by organic matter such as mulch or added soil, writes Maureen Gilmer, a horticulturist and landscape designer. The presence of excess mulch or leaves around this area could smother the bark, leading to the death of even old trees or shrubs. To prevent this, plant trees at the right depth, and apply any organic mulches about 2 inches from the trunk, Gilmer advises.

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