How much mulch is too much mulch?

Does this bother anyone else but me?
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Mulch volcanos.
They’re everywhere.
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Are they really necessary?
This much?
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Don’t get me wrong.   I am a big fan of mulch.
To me, a flower bed without mulch is like uncombed hair or a badly wrinkled shirt.  It’s still my flower bed, it just looks unkept.
But this??
This is equal to having bouffant hair or wearing 5 shirts at once.  It just doesn’t look right.
I’ve read time and time again that mulching this much around trees will suffocate the roots and the tree will die.  I have driven through this particular neighborhood for fifteen years and every year a tree or two succumbs from something.  Is it from the mulching madness of landscapers?

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A tree used to live here
I’m asking you, does this look right?
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Or this?
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Please, if there are any mulchologists in the crowd, enlighten me.
Thank you, thank you very mulch.