There are numerous types of mulch available for landscape maintenance. The application depth and types available vary depending on the garden beds and their soil content. Before you begin your garden, browse through the types of garden mulch available so you know the advantages of each.

Why do gardeners use mulch?

Mulch is used to help regulate soil and root temperature in your garden bed. It slows moisture evaporation so your plants retain the water your irrigation system, or you, spray with your hose.

Many natural types of bark mulch break down and release nutrients into the soil and root areas. This helps promote plant growth. Another great benefit of mulch is its coverage helps suppress weed growth.

vegetable garden cover for long winters slumber

Types of mulch for landscaping

  • Leaves or grass – These types of mulch are the easiest to come by. Deciduous trees lose their foliage onto the ground; you collect the leaves and scatter them on a garden bed.  With grass cuttings, you simply collect the clippings in a mower’s mulch bag and spread it. These applications are for informal home gardens or areas that may be wooded.
  • Wood chips – These are used in more commercial settings and high-end residential applications. The types of garden mulch used in playgrounds are a processed form of these wood chips and bark chips.
  • Playground rubber mulch – This is a true rubberized product. It is used from the waste material of things such as vehicle tire rubber. It is best for areas such as public or commercial settings due to its low maintenance and superior weed suppression. It also is not porous; therefore there will not be water loss as irrigation passes through the mulch to the soil. Wood mulch products are porous and absorb water.
  • Straw mulch – For a natural farm-like appearance, straw mulch comes in compressed bales. It is typically used for vegetable gardens. Gardeners will also use this hay as a way to cover garden beds for winter.

Mulching tips

The types of mulch available differ greatly. Once you identify your needs based on region, climate, soil pH and plant variety then you’ll be on your way.

  • Mulch at least 3″ deep
  • Spread mulch uniformly but avoid burying the plant crown (where stem meets roots)
  • Apply more mulch throughout the growing season
  • Add a layer of mulch in the late fall to prepare for winter
  • Research the pH of the mulch medium to compliment the pH required of the plants around which you’re mulching

simple proper straw mulching techniques

If you’re going to mulch over a large area, you’ll save a lot of money having it delivered by the cubic yard. You can have a local landscaping company deliver all types of mulch to your home which you can spread by shovel and wheelbarrow.

For mulching around trees or smaller, defined areas simply buy the mulch by the bag. They come in bags measured by the cubic foot since it is misleading to sell mulch by weight. It is absorbent and thus can greatly change the weight of the bagged contents.