mulch close up

Which type of mulch should I buy?

One of the most common dilemmas customers face is not knowing which mulch to go with. Soon Mission Mulch will carry 8 different types of mulch and picking one that’s right for you can sometimes be a struggle. My personal recommendation is that if you’re in doubt as to which mulch is best for your needs, that you come to our store and ask for a sample. We’d be happy to fill up a ziplock bag for you to take back to your house and spread to see how it will look before you make a big purchase.

Mulch Recommendation

My go to recommendation for someone that can’t decide is brown colorized double shredded hardwood mulch. I’m a firm believer that most times, if you want to know the best choice in something, look to what the professionals use. In landscaping, almost all landscapers exclusively deal with colorized double shredded hardwood mulches. The biggest reason is that you get all the benefits of hardwood mulch with the longest lasting visual appeal. Natural double shredded mulch looks fantastic and dark brown when you buy it but the wood will bleach white in a month or two regardless of how dark it is initially from the sun’s UV rays. If you’re going to go through the hard work of spreading mulch, why not get mulch that holds its color for 9-12 months?

What size mulch should I get?

Particle size is another major factor as to which mulch to pick. In hardwood you can get either single shred, double shred or even triple shred. Particle size dictates two factors, the rate of decomposition and the effectiveness at blocking weeds. The finer a material (IE triple shred), the faster it breaks down and returns nutrients to the soil. The fact that it’s so fine also creates a great UV barrier to the soil preventing many weeds from germinating. The downside is that that rapid decomposition means it will need to be mulched much more frequently “multiple times a year”. It’s also very expensive. Single shredded mulch on the other end of the spectrum will not block weeds very well but will last a very long time. That’s why people buy it to deal with heavily eroded areas. The perfect medium is double shredded hardwood. The double shredded mulch consistency is aesthetically pleasing and yet has a great durability factor and has fines in the material meaning the nutrients return to the soil in a staggered fashion.

Specialty Mulches

Specialty mulches such as cedar mulch, bark mulch, red oak mulch, pine mulch etc, all serve a specific role desired by the purchaser. While some attributes are desirable in certain applications, other attributes may not be desirable. Cedar mulch has insect repellent qualities as well as a great aroma but is higher in acidity which some plants and trees don’t like. Bark mulch is stringier in consistency and lighter to work with but isn’t as high in nutrient value as standard double shredded mulch. Red oak is a terrific mulch but demands a premium price which is out of most people’s budgets. Pine mulch smells great and is commonly used in animal bedding operations but the bright color isn’t desirable in most gardens and the acidity is very high. If you’re considering a specialty mulch for the first time and aren’t sure if it’s right for you, we recommend consulting with your horticulturist or landscaper first.