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7 Best Mulches – [Reviews & Guide 2019]

Best Mulch – Reviews & Guide

A great yard needs great mulch. However, with so many different types of mulch out there to choose from, selecting the right one can be more of a chore than a complete flowerbed overhaul.

From wood chips and shredded bark to cocoa shells and rubber chunks, we’ll cover the basics of mulch and help you pick the best mulch for your landscape.

PRODUCTSIZEITEM DIMENSIONSWEIGHTMATERIALSCOVERS 
EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack(Editor's Choice)2.5 CU FT BALE17 x 10 x 24 in18.9 poundsStraw with a bonding agentto 500 sq. ft.Check Price
Hull Farm 50150 Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch2-Cubic Feet31 x 21.5 x 4 in32.6 poundsCocoa shell-Check Price
Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch5 Quarts7 x 7 x 1 in14.4 ouncesCoconut husks and fiberOnly potted plants Check Price
FibreDust CoCo Mulch1-(Pack)12 x 4.5 x 12 in11 poundsCoconut huskYield 6 sf of coverage at 2" depth, or 4 sf at 3" Check Price
National Cocoa Shell BLCH0012-Cubit'34 x 23 x 6 in18 poundsBlommer Cocoa Shell22 sq. ft.Check Price
Yardwise Rubber Landscape MulchSizes of 1-inch or smaller2 inches high x 360 inches long x 180 inches2,000 poundsRubber (recycled rubber tires)450 square feet at 2 inches deepCheck Price
USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch14 and 9 inch Sizes Available24 inches wide by 24 inches high10-15 poundsNeedle Pinestraw240 sq. ft.Check Price

1. EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack – Best Mulch for Grass Seed

EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack review

Some mulches are great for potted plants and keeping weeds out of flower beds. Others, however, serve a different purpose.

EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack won’t keep weeds 100 percent at bay or necessarily beautify your lawn, but  it does a fantastic job of protecting grass seed and helping it sprout . In other words, it speeds up germination and will make your lawn greener. Who doesn’t love a healthy green lawn?

Unlike regular straw, this premium processed straw contains a special bonding agent, giving it a tackiness that helps hold it together and keep from washing out in heavy winds and rains. This is one of the reasons for its effectiveness. Plus, it prevents soil erosion and helps conserve water too.

While some mulches are sprayed with chemicals and unsafe for pets, EZ-Straw is also biodegradable and all-natural, so it’s completely safe for children and pets alike.

Pros
  • Easy to spread
  • A little bit goes a long way
Cons
  • Could be better at keeping away weeds
  • Not very permanent

2. Hull Farm 50150 Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch – Best Mulch for Dry Climates

Hull Farm 50150 Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch review

Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch is a fertilizing mulch that’s ideal for lawns, flowerbeds, and plants in less humid climates. This completely organic mulching material  consists entirely of cocoa bean shells , which are known for the ability to prevent moisture loss and keep soil dark, rich, and productive.

With a 2.5-1-3 fertilizer value, it does an excellent job of keeping the soil moist and healthy for maximum growth and yield while not burning vegetation. It also looks and smells great.

However, it’s worth noting that like other cocoa shell mulch products, Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch is not very mold and fungi-resistant. This makes it less ideal for humid climates.
Pros
  • Looks and smells great
  • Easy to spread
  • Keeps soil moist and rich
Cons
  • Not very mold and fungi-resistant
  • Not ideal for humid climates

3. Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch – Best Mulch for Landscaping

Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch review

Great for general landscaping, Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch is an attractive cinnamon-colored soil covering that will last for years, or at least a season or two.

Unlike regular wood mulch, it’s made up of coconut husks and fibers that are lightweight, porous, and great for promoting the healthy growth of a variety of plants.

In fact, we were pleased to find this unique mulch almost completely eliminated root rot and soil compaction, which are the primary reasons for plant failure. It also does an excellent job of preventing weeds and the formation of mold, which is something not all mulch can boast about.

Another benefit of this Organic Fiber Mulch from Window Garden is its ability to retain moisture and reduce evaporation. This means less watering, which is a huge plus for anyone without their own well.

 That being said, perhaps its best attribute is just how easy it is to work with.  It comes compacted in a lightweight square that’s easy to pull apart, and it expands when watered. Pretty neat indeed.

Pros
  • Great for trees, potted plants, and general landscaping
  • Mold-resistant
  • Ideal for a variety of climates
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Takes several “blocks” for flower beds and ground coverage

4. FibreDust CoCo Mulch – Best Mulch for Long-Lasting Durability

FibreDust CoCo Mulch review

If you’re sick and tired of laying down fresh mulch each Spring, FibreDust CoCo Mulch might be the perfect mulch for you. Like the Window Garden Organic Fiber Mulch above, it’s made up entirely of crushed coconut husks.  Due to the high lignin content of coconut husks, it’s able to outlast any bark mulch and stay fresh for not one or two but up to three years. 

Rather than coming in giant heavy bags, FibreDust CoCo Mulch comes in a single compressed block weighing a meager 11 pounds. After hydrating it in the recommended four gallons of water, the coconut fibers expand to provide approximately two cubic feet of coverage.

This means you’ll likely need more than a block or two depending on your needs. However, given the mulch’s long-lasting nature, it’s easy to justify the expense of an extra block or two.

In addition to forming a dense yet porous layer of insulation that keeps weeds away and inhibits evaporation, FibreDust CoCo Mulch also features an attractive rust-like color that looks great.

Pros
  • 100 percent organic
  • Looks great
  • Extremely long-lasting
Cons
  • Amount of coverage could be better
  • Can be a little difficult to break apart

5. National Cocoa Shell Blommer Shell Mulch – Best Mulch for Ease of Use

National Cocoa Shell Blommer Shell Mulch review

Blommer Shell Mulch by National Cocoa Shell looks great, is easy to handle, and works well for a variety of uses. Rather than consisting of shredded cypress or cedar like many other less expensive mulching options,  this premium mulch product is made up the outer shells of cocoa beans .

What’s so great about cocoa bean shells? That’s a good question. Well, in addition to smelling chocolatey delicious and featuring an attractive brown color, it does an excellent job of retaining water and avoiding sogginess. This means it will keep your plants, flowers, and/or grass moist and healthy with minimal watering.

Blommer Shell Mulch is also super lightweight compared to traditional mulch and surprisingly easy to spread. In fact, we were able to cover 150 square feet of flower beds with minimal effort in a matter of minutes.

If you live in a dry, sunny climate and need a premium, easy-to-spread mulch with great water retention, it may just be the solution you’ve been looking for.

Pros
  • Lightweight and easy to spread
  • Pleasant smell
  • Excellent water retention
Cons
  • Not ideal for humid climates
  • Needs sunshine

6. Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch – Best Permanent Mulch

Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch review

If the thought of laying down fresh mulch every one, two, or even three years is enough to make you wish winter would never end, chances are you’re going to love Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch.

Designed for general landscaping, it provides many of the same benefits of organic mulch without all of the headaches and hassles.

Made entirely of recycled rubber tires, this unique mulching solution features thousands of one-inch or smaller rubber pieces that look surprisingly similar to real organic mulch. With several colors to choose from as well, you can enjoy the look of the real thing without all of the drawbacks.

Don’t let the price of this great looking synthetic mulch fool you either. It comes shipped to your door in a 2,000-pound pallet and  can easily cover up to 450 square feet . Since it’s permanent, you may never need to buy mulch ever again.

Pros
  • Lasts forever
  • Available in multiple colors for a realistic look
  • Increases air and water flow to soil
  • Virtually maintenance-free
Cons
  • Non-organic
  • Only available in large quantities

7. USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch – Best Mulch for Busy Homeowners

USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch review

Looking for something a bit more rustic? If so, USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch might be the way to go.  Ideal for flowerbeds and gardens, each piece measures 14 inches does an excellent job of retaining moisture in the soil without accumulating mold and fungi like other organic mulching materials. 

It also provides an all-natural appearance that looks quite appealing to the eye. With an excellent coverage area of 240 sqaure feet per bale, a little bit definitely goes a long way.

Nonetheless, arguably the best aspect of this premium straw mulch is just how easy it is to spread. Forget loading, unloading, and spreading out dozens of heavy bags of wood chip mulch. This straw mulch is super lightweight and honestly refreshing to handle.

The company’s customer support is also top-notch, so you can feel free to reach out to them for any questions or problems you may have. In our experience, they’re more than happy to help.

Pros
  • Completely organic and super easy to spread
  • Excellent quality
  • Large coverage area
  • Naturally resistant to mold and fungi
  • Great customer service
Cons
  • Can compact into the soil over time
  • Not great in windy conditions

Best Mulch Buyer’s Guide

Best Mulch – Reviews & Guide

How many times have you loaded up your car with cheap mulch purchased at a big box store only to be unhappy with the results? While mulch may not be an exciting topic for many, it helps to know a little about this landscaping essential before you make the same mistake this Spring.

Why Mulch?

There are several benefits of adding mulch to your flowerbeds or garden.  During the summer months, mulch helps retain moisture in the soil, resulting in the need for less watering.  Since the hot sun tends to dry and harden soil faster, mulch will protect the soil from harsh sunlight and make it an ideal environment for your plants to grow.

 Mulch also helps with weed prevention.  By adding two to three inches of the right mulch to your flower or planting beds, it will blocs light from penetrating the soil and prohibit weed germination.  However, it’s important not to overdo it, because too much mulch will have a adverse effect .

Here’s a quick rundown of the many advantages of using mulch in your garden:

Minimize evaporation and maximize soil water retention

Water less

Improve soil quality

Slow weed growth

Protect plant roots

Add texture and color to garden designs

Types of Mulch

Best Mulch – Reviews & Guide

As you can see from the reviews above, there are a number of different types of mulch available to choose from. Some of the most popular types of mulch include:

Shredded Bark

Shredded bark from pine, cypress, and cedar trees is widely used by a majority of homeowners, mainly due to its  lower cost and natural good looks . This organic, environmentally-friendly mulch does its job quite well. However, it breaks down quite quickly compared to some mulches and can lower the soil’s nitrogen levels as well.

Cedar or Pine Bark Chips

Bark chips or nuggets break down more slowly than shredded bark,  but they scatter easily  and are less than ideal for slopes and other areas with the potential of being washed away by strong rains. Despite a slower rate of decomposition than shredded bark, wood bark chips also need replacing at least once a year each Spring.

Straw

 Straw mulch features a beautiful golden color  that looks great out in the garden and in any rural setting. While straw is easy to spread and doesn’t break down very fast,  it doesn’t do as well of a job preventing weeds  as many other mulch varieties. Of all of the straw mulch we tested, only EZ-Straw and USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw did a sufficient job with weed prevention and checked most of the boxes.

Coconut Husks and Cocoa Shells

These are two increasingly popular types of mulch that do an excellent job of preventing evaporation and maximizing the soil’s water retention. Unfortunately, cocoa shells in particular are prone to mold and fungal growth, so they are best suited for landscapes in dry climates.

Rubber Chips

Since rubber is an inorganic material,  it doesn’t break down into the soil or need to be regularly reapplied year after year . One application will last forever, which is a big plus for many. Rubber mulch also looks great and does an excellent job of preventing weeds, especially when used alongside sheer landscaping fabric.

Which type of mulch is right for me?

Best Mulch – Reviews & Guide

For most yards, organic mulch like straw, bark, coconut husks, and cocoa shells is best because each of these break down into the soil to improve the health of flowers and plants. However, like most things in life, there are some things to consider in order to choose the right type of mulch for not only your yard but your budget, lifestyle, and specific needs as well.

If you’re on a really tight budget, shredded bark or bark chips might be ideal. If you live in a dry climate and concerned with soil health, cocoa shells may be a great option. If you have some money to spend and really hate laying new mulch down each year, perhaps you should go with rubber mulch. You get the idea.

FAQ

How does mulch work?
Mulch encompasses a variety of materials known for their ability to prevent weed growth, retain soil moisture, and perhaps most importantly, look great. It is spread out over the soil surface in flowerbeds and around trees to prevent soil erosion and boost soil and plant health.

Mulch is generally applied in the Spring as it helps the soil retain heat typically lost during the pm hours, which can help promote early seeding. Further on in the season, it stabilizes the temperature and moisture content of the soil for optimal plant growth and prevents the sprouting of weeds.

What is the difference in mulch types?
As you now know, there are several different types of mulch available. Wood mulch breaks down after a season and improves the soil quality by adding valuable nutrients. Unfortunately, it requires re-application every year.

Rubber and other types of non-organic mulch provide a more permanent solution. While this type of mulch looks just as good as wood mulch and never needs re-applied, it doesn’t improve soil structure. This makes it less than ideal for flower beds, gardens, and potted plants.

Pine needles and pine straw are other great mulching choices. While both are great for rural areas and preventing soil erosion, they’re not very good at preventing the spread of weed seeds.

Other mulch alternatives include coconut husks, cocoa shells, and compost, each of which are also quite different and have their own unique pros and cons.

How long does mulch last?
Most organic mulches break down after a season or two and require re-application. Rubber and other non-organic mulches, on the other hand, provide a more permanent solution.
When is the best time to mulch?
The best time to mulch is typically in Spring when the soil is weed-free and just beginning to warm up. This also happens to be the time of year when flowers are planted and gardeners are grinning from ear to ear.
How much mulch do I need?
In most cases, mulch should be spread in a layer 2-3 inches deep. Too little mulch and it will be washed away or have little effect. Too much mulch and your plants will struggle to receive enough water and nutrients.
Is mulch flammable?
Yes, mulch is flammable, and the fire can be quite persistent when it catches. That being said, mulch fires are rare, and they generally occur in dry, hot climates.

Conclusion

If you want a great looking yard, mulch is a must. However, as you now know, no ordinary mulch will do.

EZ-Straw and USA Premium Long Needle Pine Straw Mulch are great options for ease of use and germinating grass seed, while Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch will last forever and Blommers Shell Mulch or Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch are great for keeping soil moist and rich in hot, dry weather.

It all depends on your yard, location, and specific needs. In any case, one of the mulches above is sure to do the job.

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