(Click to enlarge)
Wrong. #1, roots need a little substance I like to call air, and now they are about 2 feet farther from air than they were yesterday. And B, the temperature at the bottom of that mulch pile is approximately 150 gazillion degrees, so I'm sure the roots are enjoying that.
Here's another helpful tip, kids: When planning on suffocating the root system of your 36" diameter water oak (Quercus nigra) under a waist-deep mountain of shredded mulch that will artfully make it look like your tree is emerging from the throat of a volcano, be sure to start by driving metal edging into the soil in a large ring around the tree, so as to completely sever the roots in the top few inches of soil.
Note: the vast majority of tree roots are in the top few inches of soil.
I once considered forming a guerilla/ninja urban forestry squad that, under cover of darkness and dressed in black, would fight human-on-tree crime and correct all of the arboreal massacres people - often with the best of intentions - commit. Looks like the idea is still a good one. Plus I'd get to wear a cape and mask.
Thanks to Scott for the photo.