During spring and autumn, gardeners cover their yards with mulch to help protect their plants from weeds, dehydration during summer, and frost burns during winter. Besides protecting your plants, mulch is also used to make your garden borders clean and organized.
Mulch comes in many types to serve different purposes. So where can you buy each type of mulch? And what is each type used for? Allow me to answer all these questions throughout this article.
When planning on covering a large area, like your front and back yards, you’ll need a lot of mulch. You could buy individual bags, but it’ll cost you a lot of money to cover a large area. So why not buy your mulch in bulk?
Visit your local landscaping supply store and ask them about buying mulch in bulk. If they don’t offer that, you’ll definitely find someone selling mulch in bulk online. If all else fails, head to Lowe’s or Amazon and place your order. It’s that simple, and it’ll save you a ton of money.
Straw mulch comes in four major types: garden straw, pine straw, rice straw, and weed-free straw. Generally, straw mulch is great in reducing evaporation, increasing the soil’s moisture, and adding nutrients to the soil when the straw decomposes.
However, straw mulch can also house several pests, including pill bugs and slugs. Some types can come with weed seeds, which can increase weed growth in your yard. Other types are specifically weed-free, but they may contain toxic chemicals like herbicides or pesticides.
Like most other types of mulch, you can find it on Amazon, Lowe’s, or at your nearest Walmart. Although you’ll find cedar mulch to be relatively expensive when compared to other types, it’s worth the extra money.
Cedar mulch has a strong fragrance that can repel pests and insects, but also freshen up your garden and have it smelling like a mystical forest. These same qualities are what make cedar mulch resistant to bacteria and fungi, which means it’ll last longer in your yard.
As great as it is, cedar mulch has some drawbacks. If your soil is moisture-retentive or if you have low areas in your landscape where water tends to pool up, then cedar mulch isn’t your best option.
Cedar mulch is known to help the soil underneath it retain moisture for months. And since it doesn’t decompose quickly and lasts for a long time, it’ll do more harm than good to your extra-moist soil. That’s why it’s preferred to be used on flat soils that don’t retain moisture.
Black mulch is famously known for its clean, chic aesthetic that contrasts with your greenery and makes the colors in your garden pop. However, not all black mulch types are the same. Black mulch comes in two main categories: organic and inorganic black mulch.
Organic black mulch comes from tree bark and wood chips colored with a water-soluble dye. They have the same benefits as regular brown mulch but with a sharper, more sophisticated aesthetic.
The only drawback of black-dyed wood mulch is that the color fades over time, especially under direct sunlight. So to maintain its fresh color, you’ll either need to top it off regularly or replace it if it’s all faded.
This process isn’t exactly cost-effective, especially if you’re looking to invest in long-lasting mulch for your garden.
Inorganic black mulch can be made from two materials: lava rocks or rubber. Both materials are made to stand the test of time, which makes them a great investment to protect your garden from pests and weeds.
However, since inorganic mulch comes from non-living materials, it has almost zero nutrients. That means that it won’t benefit your soil when it decomposes over the years.
Black rock mulch is made from crushed lava rocks, which allows better air circulation and drainage. It also helps the soil retain its heat and moisture and protects it from erosion. Rock mulch also stays put during heavy rains, unlike wood mulch which tends to drift away.
The best thing about it, though, is that rock mulch is naturally black. So it won’t fade in the sun and you won’t have to worry about topping it off or replacing it frequently.
Black rubber mulch comes from recycled old tires that are shredded and ground up into tiny pieces. That’s why rubber mulch is relatively soft and cushiony. You’ll find rubber mulch in many public areas with high foot traffic, especially playgrounds and outdoor gyms.
Similar to rock mulch, rubber mulch isn’t affected by environmental factors like direct sunlight or heavy rain. It stays put throughout the years and requires minimal maintenance.
However, rubber mulch doesn’t allow nutrients to reach the soil underneath it, so it may not be the best option to opt for if you don’t need protection from high foot traffic.
Cocoa mulch is considered one of the most expensive types of mulch. Luckily, you only need a thin layer that is one or two inches thick to retain moisture and protect your yard from weeds and pests. As a bonus, you’ll also have your yard smelling like chocolate!
Don’t overdo it, though. A thick layer of cocoa shell mulch can make your plants too wet and grow slime mold. If that happens, your mulch won’t smell so good anymore.
Another thing to consider about cocoa shell mulch is that it may be toxic to pets. So if you have a pet at home, don’t use it in your garden. Instead, opt for cider mulch. It’s fragrant, protects plants, and is vastly safer for pets.
Buying mulch for your yard shouldn’t be too hard. Most types of mulch are available at your local landscaping supply store. If that’s not the case, you could either head to your nearest hypermarket or look online. You’ll surely find all of your gardening needs.
I’ve covered the main types of mulch, when to use them, and of course, where to get them from. So choose the type that best suits your yard and have fun mulching!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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