5 Most Common Mulches

The principal purpose of mulch would be to improve the soil structure and mineral levels, and also to safeguard it from humidity and humidity changes. There’s a wide array of organic substances that work nicely as mulch for gardens and landscapes, however, a handful of these substances are used more often than the remainder of residential grounds. Five of the most commonly used mulches offer many advantages to your soil and plants, and are readily available and very affordable.

Wood Products

Wood mulch is available ground, shredded or chipped. Shredded mulch is usually made of thin strips of tree bark. Ground mulch consists of very fine to medium-sized wood particles. Ground hardwood mulch is particularly dark and rich in appearance and appears attractive in the landscape. Chipped wood mulches are coarse in texture and therefore are the most commonly available kinds of wood mulch. Soft woods like pine can increase acidity in your soil, making it ideal for mulching azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Hardwood mulch tends to become alkaline, so it is ideal for just about any sort of plant that does not need an acidic soil.


Compost is commonly used in home landscapes because it is a great soil conditioner that’s not hard to make yourself. Compost is created by combining various kinds of yard waste, such as leaves, plant debris and grass clippings, and may also include kitchen waste. The substance is mixed and left to decompose until it’s a blended material rich in nutrients. Compost is also commercially available at garden centers and greenhouses. One disadvantage of compost as mulch is the nutrient content and acidity of compost changes dependent on the substance used.

Yard Clippings

Lawn clippings are generally used as mulch since they decompose quickly, enrich the soil and also cost nothing. Lawn clippings should be applied dry, but if you want to employ new lawn clippings, spread them securely so that they don’t form a crust or mat down and heat up, which can lead to odor problems. If you’ve treated your yard with pesticides, don’t use clippings for 4 weeks after application. Whether dry or fresh, apply lawn clippings in thin layers, adding new layers per week after mowing your yard. One disadvantage to yard clippings is the potential weed seeds that could be combined with the grass, so check the soil regularly for weed seed germination to remove weeds before they become problematic.


Leafmold is a frequent mulch material that’s available in your landscape, or by municipal composting facility. It is made up of partially decomposed leavesthat are typically composted from the autumn to be prepared for use as leafmold mulch in the spring. Leafmold is an ideal mulch for adding nutrients to the soil. Newly fallen leaves may also be used, but will take some time to decompose, so nutrients aren’t as readily available to your plants as they are with leafmold.


Straw mulch made of wheat or oat grains, winter rye or hay is commonly used in residential and farm landscapes due to its availability and low price. It can be a powerful mulch material so long as it is free of weed seeds or mould. Pine straw mulch is also widely used and can be commercially available in large bales. Pine straw is made of pine needles and is a wonderful mulch material for improving soil structure and drainage. Both kinds of straw are best for preventing erosion of the soil during winter rains or as summer mulch in vegetable gardens.

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