Mulch Options

Mulch is a great way to beautify an area and make the outside of a property look more presentable and desirable.

If you’re going to do it yourself, it’s good to know the options available.

Mulch can be made of either organic materials such as leaves or compost, or permanent materials such as gravel. Organic mulches break down over time and must be replenished.

  • Grass clippings – Natural-looking and free, but break down quickly and can mat in rainy weather.
  • Gravel – Dark-colored gravel absorbs sunlight and warms the ground, light-colored gravel reflects sunlight making the ground cooler. Apply to a depth of about 2 inches for inches for best weed control.
  • Shredded bark or bark nuggets – Break down slowly and can be expensive. Use aged bark only, new bark robs nitrogen from the soil so is unsuitable for use around annuals.
  • Straw – Inexpensive and good for winter mulch but contains seeds that can turn into weeds. Not suitable for ornamental beds.
  • Wood chips – Break down slowly. Be sure to use aged chips only. New wood chips rob nitrogen from the soil.
  • Compost – Excellent way to feed the soil. Inexpensive, if made at home or purchased by the truckload. Must be replenished two or more times during growing season.
  • Cocoa hulls – Break down slowly. Very attractive but can be expensive. They are light-weight so they may blow away or erode.
  • Autumn leaves – Free, but prone to blow away. Good for winter mulch if chopped. To collect chopped leaves quickly mow over whole leaves with the gathering bag attached.
  • Pine needles – Can last up to four years. During a drought however, they can be a fire hazard.
  • Sawdust – Inexpensive but may deplete soil nitrogen. Buy carefully, some sawdust contains plastics and other debris that you would not want in your yard or garden.