The 2 Most Common Gainesville Landscaping Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

The 2  two biggest mistakes I see when homeowners (and even a few Gainesville landscape companies) plant trees and shrubs are planting them too low, and applying too much mulch. In today’s quick tip, I’ll give you my secrets to planting a healthy tree in your Gainesville lawn.

Mistake 1: Planting Plants/Tree Too Low

This simple mistake is the most common one we see and does major damage to the plant. It also is the main reason that we see trees and shrubs planted for a while and not actively growing. Most people think a tree is supposed to be planted with the root ball flush with the soil level, but that is incorrect. This results in people planting their trees too deep which makes it hard for your newly planted tree to thrive, as the base of the plant cannot breathe.

What should be done is to install the tree so the root flare is flush with the soil level, which looks like the tree is planted too high to the untrained eye, like the photo below:

The reason this is bad for your tree is that this excess dirt rots the bark off of the tree and prevents valuable nutrients from moving from the roots up to the branches. One of the symptoms of a tree that has been planted too deep is if you lean on a tree that has been in the ground a few years and that tree’s trunk rocks easily back and forth in the ground, that tree is slowly rotting. The only fix to this is digging up the tree or shrub and replanting correctly to see if it can be salvaged.

Mistake 2: Too much mulch (mulch volcanoes!)

This is a case of too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, like candy. Mulch is great for plants and trees and overall is beneficial to landscapes by controlling weeds as well. The problem is when a person goes overboard piling too much mulch up against the tree trunk. The next time you are out and above, pay attention to the mulch volcanoes in your neighborhood. Most people, including far too many landscape professionals and lawn care workers, make this mistake. Here are some funny photos of "mulch volcanoes:"


Make no mistake, you need to mulch your new tree, plants, and landscape, but the way to do is to leave a gap of about 2-3" away from the trunk of the tree. Here is an image showing how we recommend trees to be installed correctly including the mulch and planting height:

For a tree to thrive, nutrients, fertilizers, and oxygen pass back and forth in a layer just underneath the bark. A telling example of how important this is for a tree - years ago, when a farmer wanted to kill a tree on their land, they would take their knife and cut through the bark all the way around the tree. This cut effectively cut off the tree’s supply of nutrients. This is called girding a tree and that’s exactly what happens when you pile too much mulch or soil up around the trunk by the two above mistakes. The bark rots and begins to cut off the supply of nutrients.

If you are thinking about planting a tree or making any updates to your Gainesville, Florida landscape, give us call at 352-378-5296 or email We’ve been helping our community improve the health and beauty of their lawns and landscapes for over a decade and have a lot of experience and knowledge in what plants and trees will thrive in our Florida weather, which will save you time and money in the long run. We look forward to working with you.