a course mulch

How Do I Choose the Right Mulch for My Landscape?

a fine mulcha course mulchMulch is a gardener’s best friend: it reduces weeds, improves moisture retention, maintains soil temperatures and enhances the beauty of landscapes. It also comes in all shapes and sizes and flavors.

How do you choose the right mulch for your landscape?

When choosing a mulch there are a lot of options and things to consider. First you have to decide what mulch will suit your needs. Using quality mulch in your garden is one of the easiest ways to transform your landscape. Choosing the best mulch for your needs can be tricky so here are some short videos of our most popular mulches, plus descriptions to help describe some options and links to bulk and bagged products available, plus locations.

CEDAR MULCH: This mulch has a pleasant cedar smell that lasts a fair amount of time after spreading. Cedar is also great for repelling insects. Cedar mulch has a very slow decay process so it won’t break down quickly. Also, cedar mulch is the most resistant to artillery fungus.

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK: Red Cedar and Canadian Cedar is available at our Harvest New England locations in Connecticut.
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: Cedar Mulch Blend (2-cubic-foot bags) by Garden Pro® is available in stores in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast.

BARK MULCHES / COLORED BARK MULCHES: This is a recycled mulch usually made from brush and logs. These types of mulches break down quickly and add nutrients to the soil. Natural colorants make this mulch stand out.

PINE BARK MULCH: This mulch has a naturally rich dark color with a pleasant pine scent. Pine mulch is a slow decomposer and is often over looked. This mulch has great longevity and is relatively inexpensive!

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK: Pine Blend is one of our most popular mulches, available in New England (Connecticut). Pine Fines are an exceptional soil conditioner for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, hollies and magnolias – available in the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland, DC, Virginia).
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: We offer a variety of Pine- based mulches including Pine Bark Mulch in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

HEMLOCK MULCH: This mulch has strong reddish and orange tones which add rich color to landscapes. Hemlock mulch is very aromatic. Just like cedar and pine mulch, hemlock mulches decomposes slowly so it is long lasting. Hemlock has a natural reddish look.

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK: Hemlock Mulch is available in at our Harvest New England locations.
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: Hemlock Mulch Blend is available in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Go straight to the source! See all mulch and soil products available in:


Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted as “Choosing a Mulch: Practical Beauty” in March 2014; it has been re-posted with permission by the author, Shelley Mulvey, with updated content, availability and links.

36 replies
  1. DoloresB
    DoloresB says:

    The mulch for landscape depends on preference and area, I would say. I like that you point out all the pros and cons of all the different options, because I don’t think very many people know the difference. This way they can set up their landscape just the way they want it.

  2. Amy Farnsworth
    Amy Farnsworth says:

    I haven’t the faintest clue on how to choose mulch, and am leaving that to my husband. However, I still want to be helpful and figure out what input I can give that will be actually useful. For me, I like the sound of Hemlock mulch, with it’s natural aroma and reddish look; sounds like my thing! I think my husband will probably like it a lot too. Thanks for the post.

  3. Fitz
    Fitz says:

    Hello, and thank you for sharing this article on how to find the right mulch for your property. Mulch is a great way to give your garden the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy plants. I think it’s good to know the different types of mulch to know which will be best for your garden and plants.

  4. Eric Blaise
    Eric Blaise says:

    Usually, people choose mulch that matches the look of their garden. Aside from the reason mentioned above, it comes in a variety of sizes, if soil retention is one of your main concerns, you might want to get mulch that comes in larger pieces, this will absorb the impact of larger rain drops and protect the surface soil. Otherwise, you have a vast selection to choose from.

  5. Caleb Hart
    Caleb Hart says:

    I would love to get some of this cedar mulch that you are talking about. My garden and landscaping is pretty old and outdated. It would be super great to have it a little more modern. Where can I get some of this mulch anyway?

  6. Jason Strong
    Jason Strong says:

    My family has a bunch of people coming over next week and we are all busy trying to get our yard ready. One thing that my dad is really trying to focus on right now is getting mulch for our garden. He isn’t sure what kind to get though and it’s starting to frustrate him because he wants to get the right kind. This article has some great points that I think could really help him make a decision.

  7. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    So I purchased garden pro top soil which lists mineral soils, dolomitic limestone and composted bark as ingredients. Seemed to me like is was 70-80% sand. Admittedly, I bought by price, and the lowest price usually isn’t the best quality. But, really, did not expect such a high sand content, which will just turn my particular soil into a hard, compact mess. Had to mix with a larger particle matter before I could use it.

    • Meredith Sorensen
      Meredith Sorensen says:

      Hi Carmen,
      Our customer service folks would like to connect to make sure you are 100% satisfied. If you send an email to “info [at] harvestpower [dot] com” I’ll connect you with them.

  8. Linda Tucker
    Linda Tucker says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these different types of mulch you can use in your yard! I am actually in the middle of a landscape renovation for my property, and it’s now time for me to get that mulch in the spaces between the stone pathway. Since all of the mulches you suggested smell really nice, it sounds like I just need to choose one based on its color. Right now, I’m probably most interested in the hemlock mulch since I think that a reddish color would contrast really nicely with the stone!

  9. Jennifer Andrews
    Jennifer Andrews says:

    If you hire a company for landscaping services will they give you mulch recommendations? I have seen a lot of cedar mulch but haven’t heard of hemlock. I love the idea of having an orange/red mulch color. I think it will definitely work with my landscape design.

    • Meredith Sorensen
      Meredith Sorensen says:

      Typically, yes, they’ll provide recommendations. They may be constrained by the type of mulch they have in inventory… if you’re looking for an orange/red mulch color let them know; red-colored mulch is quite common (and popular!).

  10. Sam Fisher
    Sam Fisher says:

    Choosing the right mulch is important to have a healthy landscape. You wouldn’t want to buy cheap mulch and not have it benefit you. Do know that there isn’t just one kind either. Knowing what kinds help out most with nutrients is probably important to know. I’d want to get one that would provide my plants with some extra nutrients.

  11. Lauren Woodley
    Lauren Woodley says:

    Thank you for going through all of the different types of mulch you can buy and put in your garden. Specifically, you talk about how Bark Mulches are recycled pieces made of brush and logs. I really like the idea of using recycled materials because it’s so much more Eco friendly. Plus, I feel like they would be more natural and nutritious for your plants. Likewise, I will definitely be sure to look into this type of mulch for my own garden. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Jason Strong
    Jason Strong says:

    Wow, I had no idea that there was so many different kinds of mulch to choose from. My wife and I are in the process of re-landscaping our yard and we are looking for a nice mulch to go with our garden. After looking at this, I think the best choice will be getting some nice colored mulch. I’ll show this to my wife when I get home and see what she thinks about it.

  13. Nash Rich
    Nash Rich says:

    I help my mom a lot on her farm, and throughout the years, I’ve hauled and laid a ton of mulch, but never known what kind. I had no idea there were so many to pick from! I agree that mulch does help with the weeds, spending a lot of time growing up pulling weeds, I could definitely tell the difference in places that had mulch. Thanks for the info!

  14. Olivia Nelson
    Olivia Nelson says:

    I like your idea on how cedar mulch is effective but it also smells good. I would imagine that if you want to improve every aspect of the ascetic of your landscape going with this type of mulch would be effective. My husband and I are looking for mulch for our garden so we’ll have to consider what type is most effective for our situation.

  15. john Mahoney
    john Mahoney says:

    I didn’t know that cedar could repel insects, I can see why using this kind of mulch can benefit your garden. I will make sure to look into the different types that are provided near me and which kind will help my garden and landscape look better. Thank you for the tips, they were really useful.

  16. Greg Smith
    Greg Smith says:

    My wife just started a little garden in our backyard. We have been curious about what kind of soil supplies to use. I started searching online for information. This article was very helpful! I liked the tip about using cedar mulch to repel insects and fungus!

  17. Simon Brooks
    Simon Brooks says:

    Thanks for the great advice, my wife has recently been working on her own garden and has been wondering about what type of mulch she needs to buy. Considering that our neck of the woods tends to host quite a few insects, we might have to get some of that Cedar mulch you talk about in the article. At least that way the bugs will hopefully stay off of her plants when they first start sprouting.

  18. Annika Larson
    Annika Larson says:

    With spring coming up, we are trying to gather our needed landscape supplies to beautify our yard. Mulch is definitely one of the key components to producing and maintaining a nice yard. I didn’t realize that there were so many variations such as the slow decaying cedar mulch that you mentioned. Thanks for sharing! We’ll be sure to see what size, color, and type of mulch will be best for us.

  19. Frank Delaware
    Frank Delaware says:

    My wife and I are getting ready to clean up our yard, and I was curious about how you would choose the right mulch for the job. I really like that you say to look at all of your options and decide what your needs are. It would be nice to know that you are getting the right mulch for your plants that will help them grown.

  20. Marcus Coons
    Marcus Coons says:

    I had no idea that cedar mulch was so good at repelling insects! We are getting our landscape remodeled and want to make sure we choose the right mulch for out shrubs. It is important to remember that taking the time to consult with a professional can help you choose the best mulch and plants for your property.

  21. Scott Adams
    Scott Adams says:

    I like that you mentioned bark mulches braking down easily. I have been wanting a mulch that could help grow plants faster. If bark mulch adds nutrients to the soil, I might try it. I’ll keep that in mind while making decisions. Thanks for the advice!

  22. annalevis
    annalevis says:

    Planting through a mulch is easy. Carefully draw it back, then dig a hole for your plant and water it. Push back the mulch, taking care not to smother the young plant. Mulching is one of the most important ways to maintain healthy landscape plants. A mulch is any material applied to the soil surface for protection or improvement of the area covered. Mulching is really nature’s idea. Nature produces large quantities of mulch all the time with fallen leaves, needles, twigs, pieces of bark, spent flower blossoms, fallen fruit and other organic material.

  23. kathrine kennley
    kathrine kennley says:

    Mulching is one of the most important ways to maintain healthy landscape plants. A mulch is any material applied to the soil surface for protection or improvement of the area covered. Mulching is really nature’s idea. Nature produces large quantities of mulch all the time with fallen leaves, needles, twigs, pieces of bark, spent flower blossoms, fallen fruit and other organic material.

  24. Annika Larson
    Annika Larson says:

    We really want to help our yard thrive by incorporating in some nutrient-rich dirt and mulch cover. Like you said, when choosing mulch, it’s important to choose quality mulch as this is one of the easiest ways to transform your landscape. We will be sure to consider the different colors and nutrients that would be best for our plants. Also, we will have to look for a delivery option to drop off the dirt at our home.

  25. Alexandria Martinez
    Alexandria Martinez says:

    My fiance and I just moved into our new home and we are finalizing some of the details in our yard, one of which is the type of mulch we want. I really like the description for bark mulches and knowing that they are recycled. We like this detail and will be looking into this and other landscaping supplies.

  26. Marcus
    Marcus says:

    I appreciate you mentioning how you need to consider the smell of the mulch you want to buy. It is important to remember that buying mulch can help you add more style to your yard and protect your plants properly, so you need to choose your mulch carefully. Personally, I would want to consult with a professional I trust in order to find the best type of mulch that can provide the type of nutrients and protection my apple trees need to grown and produce healthy fruit.


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