February 3, 2022

The Best Mulch Options for Your Landscaping Beds

The Best Mulch Options for Your Landscaping Beds

Table of Contents

There are a variety of mulch options out there for the avid landscaper. But the most common types of mulches used in today’s market include redwood bark, the wood chips from the pruning of trees and shrubs, coconut coir fiber, rubber pellets, and cypress bark.

Mulches not only provide aesthetic appeal to the garden with their vibrant colors! But they can also help the soil retain water as well as constantly release certain nutrients into the ground. There is no better way to ensure that your plants have access to these nutrients than by placing a layer of natural mulch over them on the ground.

What to Consider When Choosing The Best Mulch 

When it comes to mulch, there are a few things you should consider before buying. Make sure that the material will work for your zoning laws and Homeowners Association rules. You cannot use some materials in certain areas. They are too perishable or bulky which could cause problems with regulation enforcement. Get durable mulch.


The type of mulch to use is the biggest decision you will make. There are many types on the market including the following:

– cypress bark mulch

– cocoa shell mulch

– rubber mulch

Consider the cost, appearance, and the effect the material will have on your plants before making your purchase. Make sure that the plants around the area you plan to put the new bark will not have harm from it. When they are, use another option or place the bags in another part of your garden. 

When choosing the right type of mulching material, consider what you wish to accomplish with it. Do you want aesthetics? Or do you want the mulch to serve a practical function like the soil fertilization it provides?

Also, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each material. You may find that the best mulch option for your landscaping beds is not the one that has the best appearance. But the one that helps you accomplish all of your goals when taking care of the garden.

Some Common Organic Mulch Options

Learn more about seven of these that you can put on your landscape bed. Know about them below:


Straw mulch has the appearance of hay. It comes in brown or golden yellow. Know it as the most perishable mulch option with the shortest shelf life, lasting only six months before it needs replacement. Although it is the most affordable option available, the short lifespan does not warrant the cost for many clients.

Straw also absorbs the water that the soil needs to the plant roots. In the long term, this can reduce the number of nutrients in the soil. It also needs replacement the most often and the least attractive option.

The best way to use straw as garden mulch is by looking for weed-free varieties. Some types may contain hay, which can lead you to some trouble. That is without dealing with it properly and quickly!

Bark or Wood Chips

Bark mulches are the most common option for Long Island landscapers. They come in many colors and thicknesses, making it easy to choose the right one for your garden. Selecting the wrong type of bark could result in the dyes bleeding into the soil or the wood chips disintegrating too fast!

For best results, avoid using shredded bark as the top layer on the ground because it does not suppress weeds very well. It is better when you spread a 1-inch layer that should last for six months before needing replacement.

Bark mulch is a marvelous way to keep your yard looking green! It is from chipping away the outer bark of coniferous plants like fir or pine trees. The last 10 years before needing replacement.

Wood chips come from manufactured shredded in factories. Replace them every five to six months with regularity depending on how often you plant trees.

Pine Needles

Using pine needles for mulch is the most popular in the southeastern part of the US! But they can decompose easily without proper handling. The best way to use them in your garden is to make sure that they are fresh and green rather than brown or gray. Seeing darker colors mean the needles are too old.

Know the advantages of pine needles the most. They hold the soil moisture well and provide nutrients to the plants. Also, they can help control the pH levels in your garden, so it helps keep the weed out. 

Mulching with pine needles is an excellent way to add more life and nutrients back into your yard! Not only will they help weed growth stay in check. But the slow breakdown process also adds value for soil that might lack it.

Crumbled or Shredded Leaves

Leaf mulch is the best material that you can use to help the soil retain moisture. It also contributes to the benefits of the slow decomposition process.

Know that it is the second-most common type of mulching material behind wood chips. Raking, blowing, or vacuuming the leaves into the shredder is the first step. Next, the shredded leaves, the mulch, and the two materials combined help control the weed growth.

Choose the right leaves for this task. That means dry and brown rather than dark green or wet. Also, avoid using diseased or insect-infested leaves as they can harm the plants in your garden bed.

Grass Clippings

They are the most commonly used mulch material after the pine needles. Cover the soil well and suppress weed growth.

Know that the use of grass clippings as the garden mulch is very beneficial for the reasons below:

– Grass clippings are light in weight, resulting in controlling the weeds better compared to other materials. That is the reason why they are the best mulch to use under the fruit trees or other heavy-producing plants.

– Using grass clippings can help the soil retain the moisture better and longer. They also prevent the nutrients from leaching away before the roots of the plants absorb them.

– When you do not like how the grass clippings look on the ground after the mowing, the best way to get rid of the excess is using them for the mulch.


Using sawdust for mulch is the best way to get rid of the wood shavings left over from the manufacturing process. They are the most common recyclable material that you can use whether at construction sites or even at homes.

The right method of using this sawdust for mulching your garden beds is the one with chipped wood and processed for re-use. Make sure the sawdust is fresh, yellowish, and does not have dark edges. The latter means they contain toxins and poisonous elements.

One of the many benefits you can get from using the sawdust as mulch:

– The nutrients in the sawdust are the same ones the plants can absorb after the decomposition process.

Coco coir

Coco coir is the best landscaping material when you are an eco-friendly type of person. It comes from the husks that are the protective coverings for the coconuts.

Expect it as the most versatile mulch due to its many uses. You can use the coir in the form of coco peat, coco chips, or the coir pith.

The advantage of using this type of mulch is:

– They are the sustainable material for the environment as the trees that the husks came from remains intact. Plus, the leftovers support the coconut farming industry which is one of the major producers in Thailand and India. That means the demand for the products in the market is less compared to the production.

Inorganic Mulches You Might Come Across

Familiarize yourself with four of these that you can put on your landscape bed. Here they are:

Rubber Mulch

This type of mulch is the black granules that you see in the playgrounds and the tracks.

They are the best for the landscape bed because they suppress weed growth, prevent soil erosion, and do not blow away easily compared to organic products. The rubber mulch has one major drawback: it does not decompose. Therefore, the left pieces over the surface after the weeds wither away.

– Make sure the rubber mulch pieces are the same size, small enough for the weed roots to block the sunlight from reaching the stems.

– They do not contain any chemicals or toxins which can turn harmful to the plants in your landscape bed.

Red or Black Plastic Mulch

This is the type of mulch that the gardeners use when transplanting the plant or the young crops need protection from the weeds.

It is the most common material used in commercial farms because they are a long-term solution for weed control. You can, however, use this type of mulch around ornamental plants. But the good results are the ones achieved in the vegetable gardens.

Black or red plastic mulch is the best to use under the garden crops with the shallow root system. Make sure the depth you put is around 1 inch deep.

When using the plastic, cut holes for transplanting, and harvesting purposes on the top of the landscape bed. The holes are the size of the leaves or the crown of the plant.

Rocks and Stones

Using rocks and stones as the mulch is the best way to prevent weed growth along the landscape beds.

The advantage of using this material is the permanence of the results. It keeps the weeds from sprouting up and making the plants wither because they cannot reach the sunlight.

Spread the rocks evenly on the top of the landscape bed. For the stones, the size can range from the small one the size of a pea to the bigger one the size of a baseball piece.

The disadvantage is the heaviness and the high cost compared to the other mulch types. But remember that they are permanent, so you do not have to purchase another one after a year or two.

Landscape Fabric 

This type of mulch is the best choice when the plants in the landscape bed need extra protection from the weeds. It comes with pre-perforated holes for the plants to grow through the fabric.

They come from different materials, but the most common one used in the market is plastic. The landscape fabric prevents the weed roots to grow through the landscape bed. When the weeds wither away, the fabric decomposes into the soil while the plant roots remain intact preventing the erosion of the soil.

The landscape fabric is the best choice for the plants with the shallow root system. Make sure the fabric is the same size as the distance from the base of the plant to the top.

Intended Application

Learn more about the five factors involved in putting mulch on your landscape bed. Get ready to know them below:


The best time to start the process of mulching is the spring season. Start the process of digging the landscape bed before the beginning of the warm season. Make sure to remove the leaves and the weeds from the surface of the soil.

Spread out the newspaper with an even thickness across the ground to the landscape bed.

Distribute the wood chips on the landscape bed after laying out the newspaper evenly across the surface of the soil.

Regularly fertilizing the plants with the mulched landscape will release the nutrients into the soil making it healthier for your landscaping beds.


Spread the mulch to the landscape bed with the same thickness across the length of the surface.

The depth will depend on the size of the plants in the landscape bed, but it should reach around 2 inches. Spread out the material evenly to prevent them from clogging up the weeds’ root system.

Putting down newspapers will prevent the weed from sprouting up the soil layer. Make sure the newspaper is the same thickness across the landscape bed.

Repeat the process every month to make the procedure more effective in keeping the weed from growing all around the soil.


Mulch the landscape bed to the depth of around 2 inches.

The mulch plays the role of fertilizer in the soil. It traps the nutrient from the air and the rainwater passing through it into the soil layer. Nutrients remain intact even during the winter season. Protect the soil from becoming hard because of the extreme weather conditions.

Heat the soil that the mulch is on to the point the weed will not survive in the landscape bed. You can heat the soil by setting up the sprinkler daily for about an hour. But make sure it is far away from the plants.

Weed Prevention

Cover the landscape bed with the mulch the same way in covering the yard.

Spread the hardwood bark evenly across the surface of the soil to prevent the weed from growing around your landscaping beds. Keep the bark in place using the heavy-duty landscaping fabric spread across the planting bed.

Remove by hand the weed that is growing around the landscape bed. Pull the weed out by the roots, not the stem to prevent the weed from sprouting up the soil layer again.

Applying the mulch also prevents soil erosion when heavy rain hits the ground.


Keep the mulch around the landscape bed the same way you do in the yard.

Make sure the mulch does not expose to the soil layer. It will decompose into the soil making it healthier for your landscaping beds.

The layers of the bark decompose slowly over time keeping the soil from deteriorating from its initial state.

Make the decomposition process faster by setting the sprinkler on the landscape bed.

Form the soil into the shape of the plant roots to prevent the weed from sprouting up the soil later.

When it comes to mulch, you have plenty of options. You can use natural or inorganic materials. Keep your garden looking awesome with regular maintenance over time!

How To Choose The Best Mulch


Superb for the soil, not so much the plants. The reason behind the rotting process is the decomposition of the material into the soil. But the smell from the compost can turn into a headache. That is when you have to deal with it constantly, especially during the warm summer season.

The good thing about this mulch is that it adds plenty of the nutrients the soil needs. Material is the best when the plant is organic in the first place. It can come from leaves, grass, moss, and so on.

Wood Chips

The same thing with the wood chips goes for the compost. But it does not have that awful smell. You can also get the product by recycling the tree branches that the landscaping service removed.

The Advantages of Using Mulch 

Gain insights on five of these that you can experience for your landscape bed. Here goes:

Conserve Water

Mulching to the depth of around 2 inches will keep the rainwater in the ground longer to keep it moist for your landscaping beds. Longer moisture means better plants. The mulch also prevents the soil from temperature changes. It does not allow the water to evaporate quickly as sand and rocks do.

Mulch can save you money in the form of reduced water bills. It acts as a protective ground covering, protecting soil from wind damage and evaporation that leads to incomplete combustion which pollutes air quality for you. This will also help keep your home cool during the hot summer months.

Temperature Regulation

Mulch regulates the surface temperature of the landscape bed. The material absorbs heat or reflects the sun’s rays during the day. It also transfers the heat to the soil at night resolving the worry of having the plants burn up during the hot days.

It is best to remove the mulch in the spring, summer, and fall seasons because the soil is the best when the mulch is not around. When the mulch is around the dirt, the soil loses out the nutrients quickly. It also results in the decomposition of the mulch into the soil.

Add Nutrients and Improve Soil

Mulch does the following:

Provides the needs the plant has in the soil and prevents the loss of water. Helps the mulch decompose into the soil, improving the quality of the dirt.

Maintains an ideal humidity level for the landscape bed keeping it moist all year round.

Prevents the weed from sprouting up the dirt helping the plants’ roots develop the way the landscaping service wanted.

Provide the plant with the necessary protection during the cold winter season reducing chances of frost damage.

Prevent Disease

Mulch the landscape bed the right way. You need at least 2 inches of the mulch to keep the weed from the soil.

The roots are the key for the plant to fight the disease, so it is best to keep them cool during the hot summer months. But when the heat is too much, the roots have no chance but to die.

When the mulch is healthy, the plant also will. Therefore, the landscaping service needs to check the soil regularly for nutrient deficiencies or excess nutrients that could lead to the death of the plants. You can use the mulch as a natural weed killer when it contains herbicides.

Beautify Your Garden

Mulching enhances the beauty of the plants and the surroundings with the following:

Adding color to the landscape bed such as red or brown mulches during the fall season. The materials give off a natural feel that your garden location is in either Canada, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, or the United Kingdom.

Providing the garden the right texture the landscaping service wanted. The mulch may have the same texture as the existing landscape bed materials such as bark, wood chips, pine needles, straw, gravel that the plant grows over.

What Type of Mulch Lasts The Longest? 

When you want the mulch to last for a long time, the landscaping service recommends the following:

Use the right amount of material. Measurement is 2 to 3 inches that work well with the landscape bed. You can put more on the plants during the spring season and remove some in the summer to allow the water and the nutrients to the roots.

Why Trust Above All Masonry

Above All Masonry is the best masonry contractor in Long Island, New York. It helps you design the landscape bed the right way. The materials will serve the purpose that the landscaping service wanted including the mulch. You can get a consultation and estimate by calling (631) 664-8369.

When you are looking for the best landscaping mulch, it is important to consider not only what type of material to use but also its texture and nutrient content. The intended application can make a big difference as well. Some plants prefer heavy clumps while others need fine particles at their base or sides.


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