Mulch: 12 different types and their uses | The Best Gardening

Mulches: Types and Uses

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About Anni

Gardening for life, liberty, and happiness. I love running, hiking, being with my family, gardening, cooking (most especially the stuff we pick from our garden), and reading.

26 Responses to Mulches: Types and Uses

  1. Ann February 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Re wood chips: Have you used wood chips as a mulch for vegetable gardens &fruit trees/bushes? If so, for how many years or seasons? Can I use freshly made chips in these places?

    Also, what do you do with the chips used as a top dressing when preparing the bed, e.g. tilling, for the next growing season?

    • Anni February 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm #


      We have used wood chips as mulch. If you do use wood chips, they need to be chipped up branches and etc., with all different sizes of wood in the mulch.

      We don’t till. We just pull the wood chips aside and plant. Tilling breaks up the living soil system and kills tons of worms.

      You can leave the wood chips on permanently, really. Top dress with a fresh supply of wood chips every few years. It protects the soil a ton.

      If you want good, thorough, in-depth info on this topic, go watch Back to Eden (Here’s the video link: It explains it incredibly well.

      Wishing you the best!


    • Douglas April 12, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      A question, if I may. 20 years ago before coming to this farm there was a 20 acre swampy area in the pasture, it was filled in with 7 feet of pine and spruce shavings . Now it is well grassed over and parsturable. I have dug down into it and found that 4 or 5 inches down we still have quite raw material. Could I skim the top or dig down and use this material for mulching the fruit trees or vegetable garden??

      • Anni June 22, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

        Yes, it sounds like it would be good material for that.

  2. Heather March 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm #


    I just had a large ash tree removed and the stump grinded. If I were wanting to use this as a mulch in shrub beds around the house, do you think it would be a problem? Do I need to let it sit for a few months first? It did have some Ash anthracnose. My shrubs are indian hawthorns and dwarf nandinas.


    • Anni March 8, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      Since Ash Anthracnose only affects Ash trees and doesn’t spread to other trees or shrubs, it should be fine to use as a mulch. Just on top, of course. It would probably make a lovely mulch, actually. You don’t have to let it sit. It should work as a fine mulch right now.

  3. Amy March 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    I live in a townhouse community in the southeast. Most of the homes have no gutters and most yards have quite steep slopes, especially in the back yards. In the back yards, any annual/perennial planting is the responsibility of the owners (not the HOA), which means most homes in the back are completely bare, even though there are planting beds installed adjacent to the buildings themselves.

    Would pine straw application where there are no gutters and a steep slope help slow or or eliminate soil erosion on its own merits, even when there are no plantings in the beds where the pine straw is applied?


    • Anni March 8, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Yes, it would help. The pine straw would intertwine and ‘mat’ together a bit, so it’ll help. On a steep slope, it may shift and there may be some erosion. But it’s still definitely better than leaving the soil bare. By a long shot.
      It’ll also help where there are no gutters, because the pine straw has more ‘bounce’ to it, and can take the pinging or pouring of water a lot longer without being shifted, where the soil would be simply washed away.
      I would definitely lay down some mulch (pine straw or other)!

  4. Ryan Lamanna June 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Fantastic article. What do you recommend for direct sowing? Allowing the seedlings to mature some and then mulching?

  5. rick June 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    what about osage orange mulch? i would think it would last a long time.

    • Anni June 25, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

      I’m sure it would work great, even if it is a little odoriferous. :)

  6. Elle July 30, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Just wondering if it is possible to use manure as a mulch, it horse manure and the horses are not exposed to weeds so the manure would be weed free.

    • Anni July 31, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      Manure, especially if it’s free from weed seeds, would be an excellent mulch. The only precaution I would give is to not put fresh horse manure right up against your plants, or it could ‘burn’ them, because of the richness of the manure.
      However, if it has been composted well, then it can be spread throughout your garden, without worry of burning your plants.

  7. Pam September 17, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    How many layers of newspaper sheets do you recommend?

    • Anni September 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

      In some areas we only used 2 sheets of newspaper, but it was much better when we used 3 or 4, so that’s what I would recommend.

  8. Emilie September 29, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Great article . . . Thank you! I have read some good things about coconut mulch, but also read that it is sometimes harvested from cow pastures and could contain salmonella. What do you think about this? It seems to be a new product of interest, but are we going to find out later that it is a bad idea? Also, what about buckwheat shells?

  9. sammy December 1, 2014 at 8:49 am #


  10. Paige Smith March 19, 2015 at 7:14 am #

    It is exciting to learn all different ways to use mulch. I did not know that you could use wood chips, straw pine needles and manure to help keep your garden healthy. Do certain mulches work best in different environments?

  11. nicole faith March 30, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    I was wondering if there are certain types of trees that are chipped you would not want to use as mulch and top dress??

    • Anni June 22, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

      Even mulch from trees, like walnut, that contain compounds that affect the growth of other plants, can be used as a mulch if it has sat for a year or two. The rain washes out those compounds and makes it just fine for mulching a garden.

  12. Ron May 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    What is type 6 wood mulch?

  13. Julie and Roy Hymas June 17, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    Does leaving hollyhock leaves on the ground make good mulch?

    • Anni June 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

      Better than nothing, that’s for sure!

  14. Ron G October 14, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    FYI straw is hay without the seed heads. I think you used hay, not straw.

  15. Anni October 14, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Nope. It was definitely straw. :)
    It just comes with some weeds in tow, most of the time, which usually have their seed intact. Like wild grasses and stuff that grew in the field with the wheat (or whatever other type of straw you’re using).

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