Hardwood, Cypress, Pine and Cedar are the four basic types of decorative mulches sold today. Most of which are by-products of the lumber industry. Each of these differ in appearance and function.

The main purpose of mulch is to hold moisture, retard weeds, maintain even soil temperatures and provide a decorative appearance. Choosing a mulch for your landscape is very similar to choosing carpet for a room in your house.

How much area will be carpeted and what type and color?


The process must start with the following steps.

• Measure your landscape to obtain the total square feet to be mulched.
• Decide what color and texture of mulch will give your landscape the best appeal.
• Are there any extra functions needed from the mulch? Such as erosion control or soil conditioning.
• Decide on a budget. Keep in mind, there are times you just can't afford to use a cheap mulch?


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Pine Bark

How to Mulch
Mulch Facts

Hardwood Mulch

Consists of shredded and composted bark from hardwood trees. Sawmills remove this bark before cutting the timber into lumber. The bark is obtained from the mill, composted for at least 6 months, then shredded and screened. The longer the bark is aged, the darker it gets. Most bark mulch producers only shred and screen the bark once. The screen size determines how fine or coarse it will be. “Double” and “triple ground” are terms used by consumers and do not represent how mulch is really made. Some producers add shredded pallets, yard waste and sewage to hardwood bark mulches to increase profits. Re- Mulch, Inc. produces and sells 100% pure hardwood bark mulches to ensure the health of your landscape.


Proper composting and aging produces mulch rich in nutrients with a dark brown to black color. Coarse hardwood mulch will help prevent erosion, while the finer well-aged hardwood bark gives your landscape a nice clean rich look. Because of its density hardwood bark mulch insulates and protects your plants from extreme temperatures better than most mulch.


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Cypress Mulch

It is made from cypress trees grown in the swamp lands of Florida and southern Georgia. There are two basic types sold on the market today, Grade “A” All Bark and a “B+” grade, we call “Premium Cypress”. Both are very different from each other, however each can compact and should occasionally be cultivated.

Grade “A” All Bark Cypress is just the bark from cypress trees. It is the “Cadillac” of mulches. It has a stringy texture which is great for sloped areas; it has a reddish brown color and looks great in any landscape. By nature it is resistant to decay, repels insects and maintains its appearance for a long time.

Occasionally turning and fluffing by hand will give it a newly applied appearance. It is more expensive but lasts a great deal longer because of its resistance to decay; therefore less is needed to re-apply year after year.

Premium Cypress is the whole tree shredded, bark and all. This is the most popular type of cypress mulch. It has a reddish tan color with a woody appearance. Its light color will brighten a heavily shaded landscape and it does well in damp areas. It is also resistant to decay and repels insects. It doesn’t offer any nutritional value, its primary benefits are for decorative use, retarding weed growth, insulating the soil and holding moisture.


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Pine Bark Mulch

Pine Bark Mulch is the bark only from pine trees. Most of the pine bark mulch available in the central to eastern United States comes from southern grown pines and is a by-product of the paper and lumber industries. In the western United States you'll mainly find pine bark from Ponderosa pines which is a thicker and more colorful bark.

The bark is chopped up and screened producing the different types of mulch from Pine Bark mulch to large Pine Bark nuggets. Pine bark is an excellent mulch to use. It doesn't compact like most mulches, it has a reddish brown color and holds up longer than most mulches. Pine is also an excellent soil conditioner. It's great for loosening up heavy soils and because of its acidity; it promotes root growth and is great for your acid loving plants.

Pine Needles are very popular mulch in the south, but are gaining popularity all over. It has a very unique appearance and a great mulch to use. It doesn't compact; it's great for sloped or wooded areas and is good for the soil. It's only natural to use this product around pine trees.


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Cedar Mulch

Produced all over the United States. The raw material comes from the lumber industry. There are eastern, northern and western cedar mulches. Cedar has very similar characteristics to cypress. It’s resistant to decay and repels insects, however it looses its color and will grey out faster than most mulches. It’s a good mulch to use for insulating the soil, controlling erosion, retarding weed growth and holding moisture, but it’s not going to break down and provide nutrients to your soil like a pine or hardwood mulch.

Eastern Cedar mulch is similar to hardwood mulch in appearance. It is mostly bark with a dark brown color and a stringy appearance.

Western Red Cedar mulch is similar to cypress mulch with more red in its color. Two grades are available. First, is a whole tree shredded product, with a woody appearance. Second, is an all bark product similar to cypress Grade “A”, with a stringy texture.

Northern Cedar mulch is stringy brown bark and tends to be very woody, giving it a lighter appearance.
• The stringy cedar mulches are great for steep slopes and erosion control.
• Compaction will occur, we recommend occasionally aerating or cultivating your mulch.


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How to Mulch

Before you mulch
Mulch is the icing to the cake, there is some work to be done before you spread your mulch. Follow the steps below to achieve great results.

1. Kill Weeds – it is a good idea to spray all weeds with Round-Up or another weed killer 1 to 2 weeks prior to mulching. This will allow the weeds to completely die. Dead weeds are the best weeds to pull!

2. Trim Trees and Bushes – because of the debris produced, it is recommended that you trim your trees and bushes prior to mulching.

3. Clean Out Your Beds – clean out all dead leaves, weeds and trimmings with a rake. An adjustable rake works best.

4. Cultivate – after your beds have been cleaned, cultivate any compacted soil or mulch. A roto-tiller or hand cultivator will do the job. Cultivating will allow moisture and air to pass through the mulch easier.

5. Edge Your Beds – creating a clean edge really enhances your landscape and gives it a professional look. An edging shovel or power edger can be used to create your edge. Try using your garden hose as a guide to create nice flowing curves.

6. Rake Smooth – using a stiff rake, such as a mud rake, smooth out all the surfaces to be mulched. Otherwise, your mulch will look lumpy.

7. Apply a Pre-Emergent – now is the time to apply one such as Preen, to prevent germination of weed seeds. A second application, after the mulch has been installed, can add protection from weed seeds that may germinate in the mulch.

8. It’s Time To Mulch – using your hands or a rake, apply new mulch over the existing cultivated mulch or soil to a total of 2 inches thick. When complete, water to moisturize mulch and settle it into place.

9. Mulch Maintenance – after a month or so, check your mulch for compaction. If compacted, use a garden claw or cultivator to loosen it. This will allow water and air to pass, which helps prevent the growth of fungus and restores appearance.

10. Fungus – if present, remove it with the surrounding mulch. Rake existing mulch to cover the area, then water thoroughly. Fungus is a sure sign that your mulch has compacted and your beds have dehydrated, cultivation and watering may be necessary.


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Mulch Facts

Mulch Is More Than Decorative
Mulch retains moisture, retards weeds, provides nutrients, controls erosion and insulates the soil protecting plants from extreme temperature variations.

Too Much Mulch Is Harmful
Mulch should be applied no more than 2 inches thick to provide a 1 - 1 1⁄2 inch blanket after settling . Building a volcano around a tree is an example of excessive mulching and it will cause more harm than good. It should never be placed against the bark of your woody plants, such as bushes and trees, it could cause disease. Mulches, especially hardwood mulch, compacts after a few rains. This compaction causes a dry condition under the mulch, which starves the soil and plants of air and water, promoting the growth of fungus and can cause disease to your plants. We recommend occasionally aerating or cultivating to reduce compaction.

Mulch Can Be Toxic
Toxic mulch, also known as “sour mulch” mainly occurs with hardwood bark mulches. This occurs when a mulch producer improperly composts the mulch. Methane, alcohol, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide gases will build to toxic levels due to the lack of oxygen and too much moisture. “Sour Mulch” can kill your plants! Be aware and recognize it, the mulch will have a vinegar or ammonia smell. If the mulch has already been applied, water the mulch thoroughly.

All Mulches Are Not The Same
There are many mulch producers across the country and around the world. Each sources their own raw materials and implements their own production methods. Due to these factors, you will find an enormous selection of mulches across the country. The most common types in the United States are hardwood bark, cypress, pine and cedar. Hardwood and pine mulches will break down and release nutrients into your soil. Cypress and cedar mulches break down extremely slow. Therefore, their benefits are primarily for decorative use, holding moisture, controlling erosion and retarding weed growth. Pine bark mulch holds up the longest and is best for your plants and soil. For help choosing a mulch that would best suite your needs, consult with a local nurseryman or a mulch expert in your area or you can contact us to speak to one of our mulch experts


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