- Why Mulch?
- Types of Mulch
- 1. EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack – Best Mulch for Grass Seed
- 2. Hull Farm 50150 Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch – Best Mulch for Dry Climates
- 3. Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch – Best Mulch for Landscaping
- 4. FibreDust CoCo Mulch – Best Mulch for Long-Lasting Durability
- 5. National Cocoa Shell Blommer Shell Mulch – Best Mulch for Ease of Use
- 6. USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch – Best Mulch for Busy Homeowners
- 7. Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch – Best Permanent Mulch
- Comparison Table
- Which Type of Mulch is Right for You?
A great yard needs great mulch. However, with so many different types of mulch out there to choose from, selecting the right one can be more of a chore than a complete flowerbed overhaul.
How many times have you loaded up your car with cheap mulch purchased at a big box store only to be unhappy with the results? While mulch may not be an exciting topic for many, it helps to know a little about this landscaping essential before you make the same mistake this Spring.
From wood chips and shredded bark to cocoa shells and rubber chunks, I’ll cover the basics of mulch and help you pick the best mulch for your landscape.
There are several benefits of adding mulch to your flowerbeds or garden. During the summer months, it helps retain moisture in the soil, resulting in the need for less watering. Since the hot sun tends to dry and harden soil faster, mulch will protect the soil from harsh sunlight and make it an ideal environment for your plants to grow.
Mulch also helps with weed prevention. By adding two to three inches of the right mulch to your flower or planting beds, it will block light from penetrating the soil and prohibit weed germination. However, it’s important not to overdo it, because too much mulch will have an adverse effect.
- Best for Grass Seed: EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack
- Best for Dry Climates: Hull Farm 50150 Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch
- Best for Landscaping: Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch
- Best for Long-Lasting Durability: FibreDust CoCo Mulch
- Best for Ease of Use: National Cocoa Shell BLCH001
- Best for Busy Homeowners: USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch
- Best Permanent: Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch
Here's a quick rundown of the many advantages of using mulch in your garden:
Minimize evaporation and maximize soil water retention
Improve soil quality
Slow weed growth
Protect plant roots
Add texture and color to garden designs
Types of Mulch
As you can see from the reviews above, there are a number of different types of mulch available to choose from. Some of the most popular types of mulch include:
Shredded bark from pine, cypress, and cedar trees is widely used by a majority of homeowners, mainly due to its lower cost and natural good looks. This organic, environmentally-friendly mulch does its job quite well. However, it breaks down quite quickly compared to some mulches and can lower the soil’s nitrogen levels as well.
Cedar or Pine Bark Chips
Bark chips or nuggets break down more slowly than shredded bark, but they scatter easily and are less than ideal for slopes and other areas with the potential of being washed away by strong rains. Despite a slower rate of decomposition than shredded bark, wood bark chips also need replacing at least once a year each Spring.
Straw mulch features a beautiful golden color that looks great out in the garden and in any rural setting. While straw is easy to spread and doesn’t break down very fast, it doesn’t do as well of a job preventing weeds like many other mulch varieties. Of all of the straw mulch I've tested, only EZ-Straw and USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw did a sufficient job with weed prevention and checked most of the boxes.
Coconut Husks and Cocoa Shells
These are two increasingly popular types of mulch that do an excellent job of preventing evaporation and maximizing the soil’s water retention. Unfortunately, cocoa shells in particular are prone to mold and fungal growth , so they are best suited for landscapes in dry climates.
Since rubber is an inorganic material, it doesn’t break down into the soil or need to be regularly reapplied year after year . One application will last forever, which is a big plus for many. Rubber mulch also looks great and does an excellent job of preventing weeds, especially when used alongside sheer landscaping fabric.
1. EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack – Best Mulch for Grass Seed
Some mulches are great for potted plants and keeping weeds out of flower beds. Others, however, serve a different purpose.
EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack won’t keep weeds 100 percent at bay or necessarily beautify your lawn, but it does a fantastic job of protecting grass seed and helping it sprout . In other words, it speeds up germination and will make your lawn greener. Who doesn’t love a healthy green lawn?
While some mulches are sprayed with chemicals and unsafe for pets, EZ-Straw is also biodegradable and all-natural, so it’s completely safe for children and pets alike.
2. Hull Farm 50150 Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch – Best Mulch for Dry Climates
Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch is a fertilizing mulch that’s ideal for lawns, flowerbeds, and plants in less humid climates. This completely organic mulching material consists entirely of cocoa bean shells , which are known for the ability to prevent moisture loss and keep soil dark, rich, and productive.
With a 2.5-1-3 fertilizer value, it does an excellent job of keeping the soil moist and healthy for maximum growth and yield while not burning vegetation. It also looks and smells great.
3. Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch – Best Mulch for Landscaping
Great for general landscaping, Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch is an attractive cinnamon-colored soil covering that will last for years, or at least a season or two.
Unlike regular wood mulch, it’s made up of coconut husks and fibers that are lightweight, porous, and great for promoting the healthy growth of a variety of plants.
In fact, I was pleased to find this unique mulch almost completely eliminated root rot and soil compaction , which are the primary reasons for plant failure.
Another benefit of this Organic Fiber Mulch from Window Garden is its ability to retain moisture and reduce evaporation. This means less watering, which is a huge plus for anyone without their own well.That being said, perhaps its best attribute is just how easy it is to work with. It comes compacted in a lightweight square that’s easy to pull apart, and it expands when watered. Pretty neat indeed.
4. FibreDust CoCo Mulch – Best Mulch for Long-Lasting Durability
If you’re sick and tired of laying down fresh mulch each Spring, FibreDust CoCo Mulch might be the perfect mulch for you. Like the Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch above, it’s made up entirely of crushed coconut husks. Due to the high lignin content of coconut husks, it’s able to outlast any bark mulch and stay fresh for not one or two but up to three years.
Rather than coming in giant heavy bags, FibreDust CoCo Mulch comes in a single compressed block weighing a meager 11 pounds. After hydrating it in the recommended four gallons of water, the coconut fibers expand to provide approximately two cubic feet of coverage.
In addition to forming a dense yet porous layer of insulation that keeps weeds away and inhibits evaporation, FibreDust CoCo Mulch also features an attractive rust-like color that looks great.
5. National Cocoa Shell Blommer Shell Mulch – Best Mulch for Ease of Use
Blommer Shell Mulch by National Cocoa Shell looks great, is easy to handle, and works well for a variety of uses. Rather than consisting of shredded cypress or cedar-like many other less expensive mulching options, this premium mulch product is made up of the outer shells of cocoa beans .
What’s so great about cocoa bean shells? That’s a good question. Well, in addition to smelling chocolatey delicious and featuring an attractive brown color, it does an excellent job of retaining water and avoiding sogginess. This means it will keep your plants, flowers, and/or grass moist and healthy with minimal watering.
If you live in a dry, sunny climate and need a premium, easy-to-spread mulch with great water retention, it may just be the solution you’ve been looking for.
6. USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch – Best Mulch for Busy Homeowners
Looking for something a bit more rustic? If so, USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch might be the way to go. Ideal for flowerbeds and gardens, each piece measures 14 inches does an excellent job of retaining moisture in the soil without accumulating mold and fungi like other organic mulching materials.
It also provides an all-natural appearance that looks quite appealing to the eye. With an excellent coverage area of 240 square feet per bale, a little bit definitely goes a long way.
The company’s customer support is also top-notch, so you can feel free to reach out to them for any questions or problems you may have. In my experience, they’re more than happy to help.
7. Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch – Best Permanent Mulch
If the thought of laying down fresh mulch every one, two, or even three years is enough to make you wish winter would never end, chances are you’re going to love Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch.
Designed for general landscaping, it provides many of the same benefits of organic mulch without all of the headaches and hassles .
Made entirely of recycled rubber tires, this unique mulching solution features thousands of one-inch or smaller rubber pieces that look surprisingly similar to real organic mulch.
Don’t let the price of this great-looking synthetic mulch fool you either. It comes shipped to your door in a 2,000-pound pallet and can easily cover up to 450 square feet . Since it’s permanent, you may never need to buy mulch ever again.
|EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack||2.5 CU FT BALE||17 x 10 x 24 in||18.9 pounds||Straw with a bonding agent||to 500 sq. ft.|
|Hull Farm 50150 Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch||2-Cubic Feet||31 x 21.5 x 4 in||32.6 pounds||Cocoa shell||-|
|Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch||5 Quarts||7 x 7 x 1 in||14.4 ounces||Coconut husks and fiber||Only potted plants|
|FibreDust CoCo Mulch||1-(Pack)||12 x 4.5 x 12 in||11 pounds||Coconut husk||Yield 6 sf of coverage at 2" depth, or 4 sf at 3"|
|National Cocoa Shell BLCH001||2-Cubit'||34 x 23 x 6 in||18 pounds||Blommer Cocoa Shell||22 sq. ft.|
|USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch||14 and 9 inch Sizes Available||24 inches wide by 24 inches high||10-15 pounds||Needle Pinestraw||240 sq. ft.|
|Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch||Sizes of 1-inch or smaller||2 inches high x 360 inches long x 180 inches||2,000 pounds||Rubber (recycled rubber tires)||450 square feet at 2 inches deep|
Which Type of Mulch is Right for You?
For most yards, organic mulch like straw, bark, coconut husks, and cocoa shells is best because each of these breaks down into the soil to improve the health of flowers and plants. However, like most things in life, there are some things to consider in order to choose the right type of mulch for not only your yard but your budget, lifestyle, and specific needs as well.
If you’re on a really tight budget, shredded bark or bark chips might be ideal. If you live in a dry climate and concerned with soil health, cocoa shells may be a great option. If you have some money to spend and really hate laying new mulch down each year, perhaps you should go with rubber mulch. You get the idea.
If you want a great-looking yard, mulch is a must. However, as you now know, no ordinary mulch will do.
EZ-Straw and USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch are great options for ease of use and germinating grass seed, while Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch will last forever and Blommers Shell Mulch and Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch are great for keeping the soil moist and rich in hot, dry weather.
It all depends on your yard, location, and specific needs. In any case, one of the mulches above is sure to do the job.