How Much Mulch Do I Need and Other Mulch FAQs
Piles of fresh mulch stacked in neighborhood driveways usher in the spring and summer seasons. Freshly mulched gardens and flower beds give any home an instant boost in curb appeal. Our garden centers deliver 45,000 scoops of mulch each spring. We also hear a lot of customer questions about mulching, everything from “How much mulch do I need?” to “How often do I need to mulch?” To answer these questions and more, we’re sharing our expert advice to help homeowners with this landscaping task.
Why Should I Mulch?
Fresh mulch makes your landscaping look fresh and attractive. However, there are additional advantages to regular mulching of your flower beds or garden. Mulch is beneficial for the following reasons:
- Mulch insulates the soil
- Mulch retains water
- Mulch aids in weed prevention
- Mulch prevents soil compaction
- Organic mulches break down and contribute to soil health
- Some hardwood mulches (cypress, cedar, pinewood) repel insects
How Much Mulch Do I Need?
Spending all day applying mulch only to find out you didn’t order enough can be incredibly frustrating. At the same time, finishing your task with lots of mulch remaining is equally frustrating.
Find Your Square Footage
To determine your square footage, multiply the length and width of your space. The average step is 2 feet, 5 inches in length, so count the steps of your length and width, then use this formula:
- Length: Number of steps x 2.5 = Total Length
- Width: Number of steps x 2.5 = Total Width
- Total Width x Total Length = Square Footage
How Much Mulch to Purchase
Stauffers offers mulch in 2 cubic foot bags, 3 cubic foot bags, and in scoops. To figure out how many bags or how many scoops of mulch you will need for your space, use these formulas.
- Using 2 cubic foot bags: Square Foot Number / 12 = Total bags needed for a 2” inch thick layer of mulch.
- Using 3 cubic foot bags: Square Foot Number / 18 = Total bags needed for a 2” inch thick layer of mulch.
- Using Scoops: Square Foot Number / 128 = Total scoops needed for a 2” thick layer of mulch.
Do I Need to Mulch Every Year?
While mulch is beneficial to your plants, too much mulch can end up harming your plants. If you over-mulch, your plants may suffer from:
- Lack of air circulation to the roots
- Rot forming in tree trunks
- Insects nesting in the mulch
Our garden experts recommend that you add 2” – 4” inches of mulch each year. However, to avoid too much mulch buildup, it’s also recommended that you strip away old mulch before adding fresh layers.
What Types of Mulch are Available?
By far, the most popular type of mulch is hardwood bark mulch. Premium products are developed from finely shredded hardwood bark. More economical products include ground-up hardwood with smaller amounts of bark. Often times, mulch is dyed black for a deep color that lasts all year long. Mulch is also available in its natural brown color.
Additional mulch options include:
- Dyed bark mulch — red bark is a popular dyed bark you’ll find in many yards
- Pea gravel
- Leaves or grass clippings
- Landscape fabric
Tips for Applying Mulch
- Spread your mulch 2” to 4” inches thick.
- Don’t dump a wheelbarrow full of mulch into your beds or you’ll have too thick of a layer. Use your hands, shovel, or mulch fork to transfer mulch from your wheelbarrow to your beds.
- Never dump mulch onto your grass — it can kill your lawn.
- Do not create a “mound” of mulch around the base of your trees. Shape your mulch like a donut (with your tree in the hole) instead of a volcano.