How do I Choose the Best Bagged Mulch?

Henry Gaudet

Bagged mulch is ideal for smaller gardening projects and is easy to store and handle, but it can be difficult to know what sort of mulch to select. The area being covered and any plants growing there are things that you must considered. Cosmetic effect is always important when you are selecting a landscaping tool such as mulch. Your budget is a likely consideration as well.

Organic mulch breaks down and decomposes over time.
Organic mulch breaks down and decomposes over time.

Mulch is useful for preventing soil erosion and holding moisture in the ground. It helps to inhibit weed growth and gives a garden a manicured appearance. Using bagged mulch makes it much easier to estimate the amounts needed to cover a given area. Many gardeners find working on mulch cleaner as well, even when the soil underneath is wet and muddy.

Cypress and cedar mulches repel insects.
Cypress and cedar mulches repel insects.

Most bagged mulches are made from organic materials, usually bark or wood chips. The biggest advantage of organic mulch is that it breaks down and decomposes over time. This will add nutrients to the soil and help to grow healthier plants. Organic mulches help to protect plants during the winter by insulating the ground, keeping frost from penetrating the soil.

Some organic bagged mulches are able to provide additional benefits. For instance, cypress and cedar mulches have insect repellent properties, and cedar has a pleasant aroma as well. Mulch made from oak lasts an especially long time. Pine also holds up well and has the added bonus of affordability. If you are not concerned about the expense, more exotic bagged mulch made from materials such as nut shells can give a garden a unique appearance.

Inorganic materials such as pebbles, plastic or chipped brick also are available as bagged mulch. These materials are often heavier and more likely to stay put. Elements and neighborhood pets might scatter wood chips, but stones are less likely to leave the flower bed. Bagged mulch made from inorganic materials does not nourish the soil though, and removing stones is more difficult when you decide to go for a new look.

Your personal taste is another important factor. Bagged mulch is available in a wide variety of colors and textures to suit any décor. Dyed wood chips and bark are available so as well, allowing you to match your garden’s color scheme to the colors in and around your home.

When it comes to cost, it pays to look around. Inexpensive bagged mulch can perform just as well as more expensive rivals. If two types of mulch are similar, you might be able to use the cheaper kind without worrying about a loss of quality.

Mulch can regulate soil temperature, increase moisture retention in the soil, and improve the soil nutrient levels.
Mulch can regulate soil temperature, increase moisture retention in the soil, and improve the soil nutrient levels.

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Discussion Comments


I use hardwood mulch that I buy in large bulk bags. It's the cheapest mulch out there and since I have a very large property to cover, this is the only thing I can afford. It does its job just fine, so there is no point in paying more.


I personally prefer bark mulch. I have been using bark mulch for several years now and I have not had any issues. It does not expand as much as wood chips but fills spaces nicely and has a pleasant color and scent.

The scent seems to be repelling insects, whereas mulch made of large wood chips can actually attract insects. I'm also pleased with the decomposition rate of bark mulch. I only need to mulch once a year and my soil is full of minerals thanks to the mulch.

I use cedar mulch but next year I'm planning on trying colored mulch for extra color in the garden.


Shredded bagged mulch that's ready to go is the best. I once purchased block mulch. This type of mulch has to sit in water to break apart. Not only did it take forever for the block to come loose, but it was such a mess to get the mulch out from the water to use in the yard. It was too much work and I will never deal with that again. I don't mind paying a little extra for bagged mulch that doesn't require any work.

I usually apply my mulch in spring before rain and it works great.

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