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A Guide to the Different Types of Mulch

There are several different types of mulch available for your landscaping needs. This article will take a look at the various types.
Photo of gardening tools on brown mulch

Did you know that by adding a bit of mulch to your plants and trees you can improve the soil quality and reduce the chances of weed growth?

Even though mulch is not much more than ground-up pieces of wood, it can accomplish a lot when it comes to improving the appearance and health of your lawn and gardens. Trees actually produce their own mulch over many years as their leaves fall to the forest floor, decompose, and provide nutrients to the soil.

There are, however, different types of mulch and some are better than others. It is important to choose the right kinds of mulch for your outdoor project. Otherwise, the surrounding vegetation might suffer as a result.

Keep reading and learn more about the different types of mulch that are available and which mulch to use for certain projects. 

Bark Mulch

Mulch made of tree bark is one of the most traditional forms of mulch. But this kind of mulch isn’t composed of the bark of just any kind of tree. Bark mulch usually is sorted into softwood mulch and hardwood mulch. While softwood and hardwood share many similarities, there are also some important differences between them. 

Hardwood, for example, tends to be much more durable than softwood. That’s because hardwood is very dense and doesn’t soak up moisture easily. This will help the bark keep from rotting or becoming soggy. 

That way, you won’t have to worry about replacing your mulch all that often. Softwood, on the other hand, is much softer and less dense compared to hardwood. While softwood mulch might have a nice look, it might not be ideal if you want that mulch to stick around for a long time. 

Whatever the case, bark mulch can be a great addition to any landscaping project. Bark doesn’t tend to get compacted over time, so you won’t have to worry about it sinking into the ground and ruining the appearance of your landscaping job. When the bark is shredded into small pieces, it has a tendency to become even more durable than before, making it very resistant to decomposition. 

In the same vein, bark chunks rather than shredded bark are also very durable. The only downside to bark chunks is that they are lightweight. As a result, they may wash away if it rains and get scattered across your yard. 

Shredded bark, on the other hand, is very effective at keeping weeds at bay. It also isn’t as likely to wash away with the rain as bark chucks, which can save you a lot of trouble.

Wood Chip Mulch

If you want a durable type of mulch but don’t like the idea of bark mulch, wood chips may be the perfect alternative. Wood chip mulch is more finely ground and broken up than bark mulch. Also, the wood chips aren’t as organized as bark mulch. 

Instead of organizing between softwood and hardwood mulch, wood chips are usually a mix of all sorts of different trees. That doesn’t necessarily mean that wood chips are a low-quality choice, however. The great thing about mulch that uses wood chips is that the wood chips are very resistant to a variety of elements. 

In particular, wood chips don’t tend to compact. For that reason, they will stay wherever you put them down. This can save you a lot of time and trouble if you are used to repositioning stray pieces of mulch that get moved around over time. 

But there are a few downsides to this kind of mulch. When buying wood chips, you will need to get them from a reputable supplier. Otherwise, there might be seeds mixed in with the wood chips. 

These seeds can eventually sprout and cause a big weed problem that will be hard to keep up with. Besides that, if you buy cheap wood chips, the chips might not be aged at all. If your mulch isn’t aged, it will continue to decompose wherever you place it down. 

This is a problem because as wood chips decompose, they may release organic acids that can damage the vegetation surrounding the mulch. When using wood chips, you will also want to remember to fertilize the ground with nitrogen. That’s because wood chips have a tendency to suck up nitrogen from the soil. 

Sawdust Mulch

Sawdust mulch, as the name suggests, is much finer than other types of mulch. It consists of wood that has been ground up and made into very small pieces. Because the wood is so ground up, it is very acidic compared to other types of mulch. 

Sawdust mulch is actually ideal for plants that love acidic environments. For example, blueberry plants love acidic soil. If you don’t know how to get your soil acidic enough, all you need to do is add a bit of sawdust mulch. 

The acids from the sawdust will eventually sink into the soil, and your plants will have all the acidic nutrients that they need to thrive. The downside of sawdust mulch is that it also has a tendency to leach nitrogen out of the soil. Since nitrogen is very important for plant growth, you will want to monitor your soil’s nitrogen and make sure that it doesn’t become deficient in nitrogen. 

All About the Different Types of Mulch

There are many different types of mulch to choose from, and some are better to use for certain projects than others. For example, bark and wood chip mulch are both perfect for staying in place and keeping weeds at bay. Sawdust mulch, on the other hand, is great for making the soil more acidic. 

To learn more about mulch, contact us here.

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