Around the Yard

How to Choose Mulch for Your Yard

By: Tricia Craven Worley

Choosing the right mulch for your yard depends on where it will be used as well as the composition of the mulch.

Pine straw mulch around a tree.

  • Flower Beds: Use a light mulch that will decompose, such as shredded leaves.
  • Trees and Shrubs: Use heavy mulch like wood bark.
  • Paths: Heavy mulch, like bark, is best for paths.
  • Acid Loving Plants: Since pine straw is acidic, use it around acid loving plants like azaleas and camellias.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Tricia Craven Worley: Choosing the right mulch for your garden is a lot like choosing the right garden tool for a job. Now, when I think about mulches, I think about all the varieties there are. There are fine mulches, like shredded leaves, all the way to really heavy ones, like wood bark.

When I’m thinking about mulching around my flower beds or roses, I really go to something that can decompose, like a shredded leaf, because after it decomposes I can just till it into the soil.

Now, if I want to put something around my trees or shrubs, I’m going to go closer to a heavier bark. Also, that would well on paths. This way after a season I can clear it away and then replenish it.

Now, also keep in mind how much area you have to cover, because the larger the area maybe you want to go to a heavier bark.

Also, think about what you’re mulching. In this instance we have pine needles around camellias and azaleas that love acid.

Depending on your area you’re going to have certain mulches available, so you want to look into it and see what’s best for you.


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  • Gail Turnbull Says:
    May 1st, 2017 at 11:54 am

    This is a wonderful article on mulching. I was glad to read the recommendations for using shredded leaves and pine needles for acidification. These are absolutely perfect mulches. Did you know that fireflies need leaf mulch for their eggs and larvae? Most gardeners pick p every leaf and by removal cause a negative environmental impact to beneficial insects. Also, more and more is becoming known about soil microbes. Some science is leaning toward all this artificial wood mulch being harmful because of changing the soil conditions that support beneficial soil microbes that in turn benefit plants, their healthy root systems, and more. Certainly mulches that have chemical treatments are a negative environmentally speaking. Those treated mulches create a mini wasteland, which is what some gardeners want – no “weeds.” But that wasteland also reflects harm done to the soil, its natural fungal and bacteriological inhabitants, and their interactions with plants. I hope to be able to read more of your posts on mulching in the future. Thanks!


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How to Choose Mulch for Your Yard