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Now is the time of year for my least favorite sign of spring — the mulch volcano.

A mulch volcano is the piling of an excessive amount of mulch against the trunk of a planted tree.

It might look neat and tidy, but it is deadly to the tree. The piled mulch traps unnecessary moisture against the bark, promoting disease and decay at the base of the trunk.

The moisture will cause splits in the bark, allowing disease and pests to attack. As the thick layers of mulch become matted, they will prevent water and air from getting to the roots of the tree.

Save your tree by pushing the mulch away from the base and spreading the mulch out flat so the water will not run off.

A depth of two to four inches is sufficient. You should be able to see where the trunk flares into the roots.

If you paid a professional, insist they return and do the job correctly.

Notify an official if you see a mulch volcano at a public facility; it is a waste of taxpayer money.

Tara Carlson, Waldorf