7 Types Of Mulch And How To Use Them For Your Garden

How To Best Use Different Types Of Mulch To Beautify Your Yard

You can use these 7 different types of mulch to help your yard be at its best: wood, straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves, animal manure, and some inorganic mulch types too. They can all help protect your soil, help your plants stay healthy, and even provide a nice look for your yard.

Types of mulch like this organic one

You can use these different types of mulch to help your yard be at its best: wood, straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves, animal manure, and some inorganic mulch types too. They can all help protect your soil, help your plants stay healthy, and even provide a nice look for your yard.

Types of mulch like this organic one

Let’s see which types appeal to Aaron and Denise.

Our Yard Needs Help!

“It’s full of weeds, the plants aren’t doing well, and it doesn’t look great either.”

Dead and dying yard needs different types of mulch to help bring it back to life

Aaron looks out over their yard and sees everything his wife, Denise, just said. “Yeah,” he sighs, “we’ve really let our yard get out of control recently. We’ve both been really busy lately and it just wasn’t as much of a priority.”

Denise looks up at him, “What can we do Aaron?” Aaron pauses for a few moments before saying “I think we need to put down some different types of mulch.”

“What do you mean?” Aaron looks down at Denise, “Mulch can help protect plants, improve and insulate the soil, and it can look really nice too.” “Well let’s go get some and spread it around already!” Denise says impatiently.

“But first, dear, we need to find the best type of mulch for what our yard needs.”

1. Wood

“Ok, the first one Google suggests is wood.”

You can use hardwood and softwood bark, chips, and nuggets as mulch. Hardwood types of mulch work best around trees, shrubs, and perennial plant beds. Softwood (typically pine tree-based) is great around large trees and shrubs.

“Yep, wood would be perfect, ba-dum-tss,” Aaron mimes a drum rimshot at his joke. “You’re terrible,” Denise laughs at his poor wordplay. “Look, there’s more information farther down”.

Wood mulch around plants
Wood mulch around plants

You can use hardwood and softwood bark, chips, and nuggets as mulch. Hardwood types of mulch work best around trees, shrubs, and perennial plant beds. Softwood (typically pine tree-based) is great around large trees and shrubs.

“Yep, wood would be perfect, ba-dum-tss,” Aaron mimes a drum rimshot at his joke. “You’re terrible,” Denise laughs at his poor wordplay. “Look, there’s more information farther down”.

Be careful about placing mulch of any type. Keep mulch about 6 inches away from large trees and shrubs to prevent disease from being able to spread. Be sure to only pile it about 2-4 inches high because 2 is all you should need to take care of weeds while more than 4 isn’t good for plants or soil.

“Good to know, we wouldn’t want to think we’re helping our yard when we’re actually hurting it,” Denise says in relief. 

“Let’s look at the next type of mulch.”

2. Straw Types Of Mulch

Clean wheat, barley, or oat straw is what you’ll want for when you’re seeding lawns. It helps protect the grass seeds from being eaten, washed or blown away, and generally from being moved. It can even help save water for the seeds.

“Just don’t use hay because it has seeds that could become weeds,” Aaron finishes reading. “We don’t need to seed our lawn this year,” Denise says, “so we’re good on the different types of straw mulch.”

“What’s next then?”

3. Grass Clippings And Shredded Leaves

“So, basically, these types of mulch are ones we can get ourselves from mowing and raking, right?” Aaron asks. “Seems like it,” Denise responds. “Let’s see how we can use them.”

Leaf mulch is great for garden beds as well as around trees and shrubs. It’s wonderful for improving the soil because it has healthy minerals, can act as insulation, and can feed worms and beneficial microbes.

Spread thin layers of grass clippings on vegetable and perennial plant beds. It also provides nutrients to the plants and soil as it breaks down. But, be careful not to apply in thick layers, or else the material will mat and hurt your plants.  

“But you’ll want to avoid the grass that comes from lawns with herbicides or insecticides,” Denise ends. “Want to put the grass clippings as a solid maybe and the leaves as a fall staple?” Aaron looks at her with a smile, “I love the way you think, hon.”

The couple moves on to the next mulch type.

4. Animal Manure

“The real problem is we don’t have a vegetable garden.”

Animal manure is one of the best types of mulch for vegetable gardens

Animal manure is a great mulch type for vegetable gardens because it has a lot of nutrients that can help the veggies grow hale and hearty. Just don’t use fresh manure or dog/cat/pig manure as they can actually hurt your plants.

“All of these types of mulch have been organic. You know, the ones that are natural and break down, but these next few don’t do that,” Denise notes.

5. Landscape Fabric

“Fabric? Sounds fancy.”

Landscape fabric suppresses weeds and allows air and water to pass through it. It’s best if you use it with an organic mulch like wood chips on top. This is one of the more expensive types of mulch though, but the price can be worth it.

“I don’t know about this one, it could really help but we’d have to see how much it’d cost first. I doubt we need to put several hundred dollars or anything like that into our yard,” Aaron says.

“Well, let’s see the other 2 types of inorganic mulch then,” Denise continues.

6. Rocks And Gravel

“This could be perfect for our pathways!” Denise says with excitement.

Rocks and gravel are great for paths and walkways. They usually provide better footing, don’t turn into mud when wet, and they can make pathways pop.

“We should pop our pathway after we fix up the rest of our yard,” Aaron tells Denise. “Ok, now let’s see the last of these types of mulch.”

Gravel great for paths
Gravel great for paths

“This could be perfect for our pathways!” Denise says with excitement.

Rocks and gravel are great for paths and walkways. They usually provide better footing, don’t turn into mud when wet, and they can make pathways pop.

“We should pop our pathway after we fix up the rest of our yard,” Aaron tells Denise. “Ok, now let’s see the last of these types of mulch.”

7. Black-And-White Newspaper

“Types of mulch, mulch types, read all about ‘em!” Aaron calls out. “Ok newsboy,” Denise jokes, “how about reading the rest of this out loud then?”

“Newspaper is a great mulch for suppressing weeds. 2-3 layers of non-colored newspaper with some organic mulch over it should do the trick. Huh, that’s real neat,” Aaron finishes. “We could try it out in a couple areas to see if it works,” Denise suggests.

“Great idea, hon. Looks like our Saturday is going to be spent using these types of mulch to bring our yard back to life!”

All characters in this post are fictional and not meant to represent any real person(s)