Mulch Selection Guide

Fellows This mulch selection guide was developed by the members of the Mulch and Soil Council to assist consumers in selecting the proper mulch product for your intended use. In addition to the guidelines shown on the selection guide table, consumers are advised to consider the following additional criteria for product use:

Depth of Application:
For most outdoor application purposes (especially weed control and moisture conservations) mulch products should be applied at a depth of 2 to 4 inches.

Bed Preparation: Proper preparation of the planting area before using mulch products is highly recommended.

A.) Soil Conditioner: Remove grass and weeds from the bed surface. Loosen the soil with a shovel or spade to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Cover the bed with 4 to 6 inches of aged, shredded mulch and till into the soil thoroughly.

B.) Weed Control: Remove grass and weeds from the bed surface. Cover the bed with 2 to 4 inches of shredded mulch. If larger decorative mulch will be applied over the shredded mulch, reduce the shredded mulch base to 1 to 3 inches.

Avoid Excessive Mulch Buildup: Remulching beds over several years may raise the bed level too high for shrubs and perennials. When bed depth rises above the base of shrubs, remove 2 to 3 inches of the underlying mulch material and save it for other planting uses. The humus created by decomposing bark mulch is an excellent planting medium for pots and planters.

Nitrogen Adjustment: Mulches may tie up nitrogen as they decompose. This is a normal process and may be easily compensated for by gently working a specially formulated fertilizer (such as a 2-1-1 ratio like 16-9-12, 18-11-12, or 20-10-10) into the soil before mulching. Fertilizer application rates depend on the type of mulch used. After applying fertilizer and mulching, follow recommended fertilizer programs to maintain good plant growth.

Application Rates/ 500 Sq. Ft. of Mulched Area
4 - 8 Pounds 2.5 - 5.0 Pounds 1.4 - 2.8 Pounds
Hardwood Mulch
Cypress Mulches Pine Nuggets
Pine Mulch Pine Mini-nuggets
Western Mulch Western Barks

Look for Low Wood Content: Bark decomposes slower than wood, maintains its color longer, and presents a uniform product appearance. When selecting your bark mulch products, look for quality materials containing less wood content.

Click Box to view Guide Table
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