Different Types of Mulch (And When to Use Them)

Laying down mulch is one of the best things you can do for healthy soil in your garden. Mulch not only suppresses weeds and slows moisture evaporation, but it also improves your soil’s texture. Plus, it moderates soil temperature and serves as a buffer from soil compaction caused by rain.

image of different types of mulches

So, if you haven’t tried it yet, it’s time to explore the different types of mulch. Then you can decide which one is best for your garden.

Types of Mulch

Mulch is basically any material that you can spread or lay over the surface of your soil as a covering. It comes in a variety of forms and types, so choosing one should be easy.

When used right, it can improve soil’s fertility, keep it cool, and make your property landscape look more attractive. Here are just a few types of mulch you should know about:

Bark Mulch

Bark mulch is most often used around trees, bushes, and in gardens where you don’t have to do a lot of digging. It’s ideal for front walkways and foundation plantings because these spaces don’t require deep mixing with the soil.

It’s important to know that bark mulches don’t mix well into the soil. However, they last longer than finer organic mulches.


What’s great about compost and composted manure is that they can be used anywhere as long as those spaces are well-composted and weed-free.

You can use them as a coating of mulch or you can just lay them on top of your plants during the growing season. This is a great way to insulate your plants and give them a boost of nutrients to help them grow.

Grass Clippings

If you have weeds you want to suppress, grass clippings are your best bet.

It’s important to know, however, that grass clippings have a high water content, so they decompose quickly. Plus, they can get very slimy and smelly in the process. They can also mat down and not allow water to pass through. Try to limit their usage to just suppressing weeds.

Shredded Leaves

If you want a free and readily available type of mulch, shredded leaves are the way to go. They’re perfect for woodland gardens and attract earthworms to your soil. If you lay them over your garden in your fall, they’ll start decomposing over the winter.

One thing to consider, however, is that shredded leaves can often look messier than other mulch options. You may not want to use them for more formal garden areas.

Synthetic Mulches

If you care less about looks and more about practicality, synthetic mulches are a great option.

Uses for Synthetic and Inorganic Mulches

When it comes to the ease of use, synthetic and inorganic mulches may be the best types of mulch for you. Popular options include black plastic, landscape fabric, and stone or gravel. These materials do a good job of holding moisture and blocking weeds. The downside is that they don’t add any fertility to the soil like an organic option would.

If you like their functionality but not their look, add a thin layer of bark mulch on top to make it look more natural.

Making the Most of Your Mulches

Mulch is an amazingly easy way to keep your soil healthy and your garden bed looking great. By following these mulch tips and best practices for using them, you can maximize their effect! Just follow this handy guide and you’ll be able to pick the best mulch for your garden or lawn.

Still not sure what type of mulch you should use? Contact us to discuss your options.