Mulch: Frequently Asked Questions


What is mulch?
Any material (such as: bark, rocks or compost) placed on or around a plant, garden or trees to enrich or insulate the soil. 

What are some of the benefits of mulch?

  • Prevents weeds from growing.
  • Adds nurturance to your soil and plants.
  • Maintains an even temperature in the soil. (Warm in the winter and cool in the summer)
  • Protects the soil from soil erosion.
  • Conserves moisture.
  • Makes your garden, trees or landscaped beds look beautiful and finished!

What type of mulch should I use?

The answer to this question really has many factors. The purpose of your mulching, the area you would like to mulch, the climate you are in and personal preference. The most popular mulches are organic mulches like bark and hardwood mulch. There are many types and variations of both including the color, shred and trees. In general, bark mulch typically lasts longer than hardwood and decomposes over time, adding nurturance to your soil. Hardwood is probably the most commonly used because of its ability to be shredded to various textures and ease of colorization. Hardwood decomposes quickly and provides nurturance to your plants and soil. Inorganic mulch such as lava rock and pee gravel do not decompose and are more of a permanent solution for soil erosion and landscape design. Inorganic mulches are most commonly used in desert type climates. 

When should you mulch?
There is no right or wrong time to mulch. Most people like to mulch there landscape beds, trees and landscape in the spring. This helps there plants retain water through the spring and summer and keeps their plants warmer in the winter. 

What do I need to do before I apply mulch?

  • There are many things you need to do before you start your mulching project.
  • Measure entire area to determine how much mulch you need.
  • Pull all weeds, grass and unwanted plant growth in the area you wish to mulch.
  • Spray weed repellant or lay down landscape fabric in the area you wish to mulch.
  • Make sure your landscaped beds and areas you wish to mulch are properly cut and ready for mulch.

What is the difference between organic and inorganic mulch?
Organic Mulch:

Organic mulch can be made of many substances which are naturally occurring. Hardwood mulch and Hardwood Bark Mulch are two of the most common. However, pine needles, leaves, or even grass clippings are sometimes used as mulch. Organic mulches decompose over time. Organic mulch can attract insects, mostly slugs and worms witch is great for your soil. Unfortunately sometimes termites and other annoying pests get into it as well. Usually organic mulch should be replaced every couple of years.

Advantages to Organic Mulch:

Organic mulch provide nurturance to soil and plats because they decompose over time. Organic mulch in most cases can be dyed and shredded to specifications. They conserve water and protect agents weed growth and aid in stopping soil erosion. Organic mulch will improve the appearance of your landscape.

Inorganic Mulch:
Inorganic mulch are landscape materials that do not decompose over time. They include gravel, pebbles, plastic, and landscape fabrics. These types of mulches do not attract pests and do not decompose, which can be beneficial.
Advantages to inorganic mulch:
They don’t decompose. This can save you time and money by not having to re-apply mulch every year. Inorganic mulches do not attract pests. They protect agents weed growth and improve the appearance of your landscape. 

How do I determine how much mulch I need?
To calculate the volume of mulch you’ll need, multiply the square footage of the area to be covered (SF) by the depth of the mulch (DM). Multiply the result by 0.0031 to determine the number of cubic yards you’ll need. The equation looks like this:
SF x DM x 0.0031 = Cubic Yards. 

What thickness in depth should I lay mulch?
To maintain moisture and effectively prevent weed growth, the recommended depth is 3 inches thick. 

How many square feet of mulch are in a cubic yard?
One cubic yard will cover a 324 square-foot area with one inch depth. 

How many bags of mulch do I need to cover 1 yard?
Bagged mulch usually comes in 2 cubic foot and 3 cubic foot sizes.
2 cubic foot bags = 14
3 cubic foot bags = 9 

What is the difference between bagged and bulk mulch?
It’s a matter of preference and price.  Some people prefer to have a load of mulch delivered to their house and use a wheelbarrow to move it throughout the yard.  Some prefer to carry bags to each landscape bed. 

Bulk mulch is generally much cheaper than bag mulch. However, if you need less than 2 yards of mulch you may want to consider using bags. Some landscape supply companies have a minimum delivery of 2-3 cubic yards.