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How Much Does Mulch Really Cost? (And How to Calculate What You Need)

How Much Does Mulch Really Cost? (And How to Calculate What You Need)

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Mulch can do a lot for your garden and green spaces.

It helps protect plants’ roots, preserve soil moisture, and prevent weed growth. Mulch also boosts the aesthetics of your garden or yard, making it look neater and more even.

Most homeowners want to reap all those benefits, so they often wonder: how much does mulch cost?

In today’s guide, I’ll walk you through mulch prices based on quantity, project size, type, delivery fees, installation expenses, and more.

How Much Does Mulch Cost Per Bag?

The cost of purchasing 1 bag of mulch typically ranges from $2.5 to $7.

Buying mulch in bags is considered a non-bulk purchase. It makes sense to buy mulch by the bag if you’re working on a small project.

The average quantity of mulch in a single bag of mulch is 2 cubic feet.

This means you can cover around 100 square feet of land with 1 bag of mulch at a depth of 3 inches. At 2 inches of depth, a bag of mulch can cover approximately 162 square feet.

Additionally, since 1 cubic yard corresponds to 27 cubic feet, covering 1 cubic yard would require mulch from 13.5 bags.

How Much Does Mulch Cost Per Yard?

For bulk purchases of mulch, you’ll be dealing in cubic yards and buying by truckload.

On average, the cost of mulch per cubic yard ranges from $20 to $70. If you include delivery and labor, mulch can cost anything between $37 to $150.

1 cubic yard contains about 27 cubic feet. As such, 1 cubic yard of mulch can cover an area of approximately 100 square feet at a depth of 3 inches, 162 square feet at a depth of 2 inches, or 324 square feet at 1 inch deep.

To help you out with estimations, here’s how much mulch you’d need in the cubic yard to cover various areas at 2-inch depth:

  • 324 square feet would require 2 cubic yards.
  • 486 square feet would require 3 cubic yards.
  • 648 square feet would require 4 cubic yards.

As you can tell, it’s a matter of simple addition (1 cubic yard corresponds to 162 square feet at a 2-inch depth).

How Much Does Mulch Cost Per Square Foot?

When you’re buying mulch for your garden or yard, one of the biggest factors that affect mulch cost is project size. That’s the area you want to cover with mulch.

As I explained above, the average cost of mulch per cubic yard ranges from $20 to $70, or $37 to $150 with delivery and labor included.

1 cubic yard can cover 324 square feet at a depth of 1 inch. This means that a 1-inch thick layer of mulch costs from $0.06 to $0.22 per square foot, or from $0.11 to $0.46 per square foot including delivery and labor.

But if you want your mulch layer to be 2 inches deep (thick), you’ll need 2 cubic yards of mulch to cover the same area of 324 square feet. This means that the cost of mulch per square foot will double.

This shows you how you should not only consider how large the area you want to cover is but also how thick you want to lay the mulch.

Calculating the Quantity of Mulch You Need

You can find out how much mulch you need to buy for your garden using the following steps:

  1. Determine the area in square feet; multiply the length and width for a rectangular space or multiply the distance from the edge to center by itself then by 3.14 for a circular area.
  2. Figure out the thickness or depth you want your mulch layer to be in inches. An effective mulch layer is typically 2 or 3 inches deep.
  3. Calculate the required cubic yards of mulch by first multiplying the square footage of your space by the desired thickness. Then, divide that number by 324 (because 1 cubic yard covers 324 square feet at a thickness of 1 inch).

The resulting value is the number cubic yards of mulch you need for your garden.

  1. If you’re buying mulch by the bag instead of by the truckload, multiply the number of cubic yards you got from the previous step by 13.5 to calculate how many bags of mulch your garden needs.
    • That’s because 1 bag typically has 2 cubic feet, and 1 cubic yard has 27 cubic feet, so 1 cubic yard is equivalent to 13.5 bags.
    • If your supplier sells mulch bags holding a different capacity than 2 cubic feet, divide 27 by the number of cubic feet a bag contains. Then, multiply the result by the number of cubic yards your garden needs to figure out the number of mulch bags you should buy.

How Much Does Mulch Delivery Cost?

When calculating how much you’ll pay to mulch your garden or green space, you need to include the delivery fees for the mulch.

Some suppliers have a flat delivery charge, but most suppliers determine the delivery charges based on the distance their vehicle will have to travel from their location to reach yours. The longer the distance, the higher the delivery costs.

On average, mulch delivery fees can set you back from $45 to $160.

When delivering mulch by the truckload, you’re getting between 10 to 15 cubic yards of mulch per trip. So a single truckload delivery carries enough mulch to cover an area of around 1,620 to 2,430 square feet at a thickness of 2 inches.

How Much Does Mulch Installation Cost?

Buying and delivering mulch aren’t the only expenses to consider in your budget, you need to also factor in the installation costs, also known as labor costs.

Some providers charge a flat rate for professional mulch installation, but most companies will charge you either by the hour or by the cubic yard.

The average fees range from $40 to $100 hourly (it usually takes about half an hour to spread 1 to 1.5 cubic yards of mulch.) or from $20 to $75 per cubic yard.

The exact cost varies depending on the area of your garden and ease of access.

You may decide to perform the installation yourself to save some money, but you still need to factor in the cost of equipment and tools needed for the job if you don’t already own them.

A trowel, shovel, wheelbarrow, garden gloves, and so on can add around $100 to $200 to your expenses.

How Much Do Different Types of Mulch Cost?

Another factor that affects your total mulching costs is the type of mulch you choose to use.

Organic mulch is generally a more affordable option, ranging on average from $25 to $160 per cubic yard.

Straw is the cheapest type ($25 – $40), followed by pink bark ($30 – $35), shredded hardwood ($45 – $75), wood chips/bark mulch ($30 – $105), Cypress mulch ($110 – $120), and pine needles ($120 – $155).

Inorganic mulch tends to be pricier. Plastic mulch can go from $15 to $50, gravel mulch from $20 to $60, stone mulch from $40 to $150, rubber mulch from $65 to $155, and crushed seashell mulch from $50 to $400.

How Much Does Mulch Cost by Color?

Different colors of mulch come at varying prices. Many homeowners choose to pay more for colored mulch instead of uncolored types to add a showy element to their landscape.

On average, you can pay between $25 to $70 for colored mulch. Brown is usually the cheapest option, followed by tan, red, green, black, and blue.

How Much Do Mulching Services Cost?

Your project may demand certain mulching services to properly complete. You should factor these services into your budget.

For example, mulch blowing can set you back between $30 and $70 per cubic yard, whereas a weed treatment can cost from $60 to $180.

You can pay around $0.25 to $0.60 per square foot to install mulch sheets or lay down an edging material for $5 to $15 per linear foot depending on the material you choose.

How Much Does DIY Mulching Cost?

DIY mulching should only cost you the amount you pay for mulch, assuming you’ll do your own delivery and installation with tools/equipment you already own.

Final Thoughts

So how much does mulch cost? The answer depends on multiple factors including area size, mulch quantity, mulch type/color, delivery distance, and installation fees.

The average cost of mulch per cubic yard ranges from $20 to $70, or $37 to $150 with delivery and labor included.


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