Choosing the Right Mulch for Your Landscape

There’s no such thing as an one-size-fits-all mulch.

Your understanding of the various attributes of different types of mulch will help you select the right mulch for your landscape. And, the first distinction or decision you’ll want to make is whether your situation calls for “summer (growing) mulch” or “winter mulch.”

Summer or Winter Mulch

Summer (growing) mulch is typically applied in the spring, after the soil has begun to warm.  Summer mulch is used mostly to: 

  • Reduce the growth of weeds
  • Keep the soil moist
  • Keep the soil evenly warm throughout the summer

Winter mulch is typically applied in the fall, after the soil begins to cool. Shredded leaves, straw, and pine mulch make for good winter mulches. Winter mulch is used mostly to:

  • Insulate woody plants
  • Ensure the soil is evenly cool during the winter


Your next consideration is deciding which mulch is best for your location.  Following are helpful examples of matching mulch to a specific location.

  • Vegetable gardens and small fruit plans commonly require straw, with black plastic
  • Shrub beds and the area around trees are suited well for pine bark mulch chunks, wood chips, and pine needles
  • Annual and perennial beds can be made attractive with fine mulches such as cocoa shells, buckwheat hulls, wood shavings, and bark granules.
  • Rock gardens look more natural with crushed stone or fine gravel mulches

Cost and Availability

Cost and availability are certainly two other considerations when choosing a mulch.

Some mulches are “regional,” only available in regions where they’re processed.  Buckwheat and cocoa are quite attractive, but they are also “regional” and much more expensive than bark or wood chips.

Posted on behalf of Clayton Hulen, Green Brothers Earth Works


Mulching Matters: The Power of Pine

Mulching is a proven method for protecting and enriching the soil in your garden beds or around individual plants. Organic mulches are a popular choice for landscapers because they are readily available, easy to apply and more economical than non-organic mulches.

Pine mulch is one commonly used type of organic mulch. For this type of mulch, there is the option of using either pine straw or pine nuggets. Pine straw consists of weathered pine tree needles and is excellent for providing dense coverage and thwarting the growth of weeds. Pine straw mulch is not easily washed away by rain and requires yearly reapplication to remain effective. An appealing aspect of pine straw mulch is the look of the material; the rust colored needles are an attractive detail in garden beds and can enhance the overall aesthetics of any landscape.

Pine nuggets are chunks of pine tree bark. Compared to pine straw, this darker colored mulch provides looser coverage and can last for several years before a new application is needed. On the other hand, pine nuggets are more susceptible to erosion and you may find some mulch is washed away by rain water. Altogether, pine nuggets are a good choice in drier climate conditions where a more permanent mulching solution is desired.

These differences aside, both pine straw and pine nugget mulches provide all the benefits of organic mulches. Organic materials spread around the base of a plant decompose over time, discharging soil-enhancing nutrients and encouraging the growth of soil-friendly microorganisms. Organic mulches also promote healthy plant growth by keeping the soil aerated and protecting it from moisture loss and erosion. They insulate soil against adverse temperatures, reduce weed growth and keep soilborne diseases at bay. Additionally, because mulches clear the area around plants, they almost negate the likelihood of accidentally damaging foliage during mowing or trimming.

By choosing the right pine mulch for your gardening needs you can reap the benefits of mulching today!