How to Choose the Best Mulch For Your Garden

Give your garden a nutrient boost and improve the look at the same time with a mulch application! Today, we’ll show you how to calculate the amount of mulch you’ll need, what types of mulch are available, and how to apply it to your garden or tree roots.

How Much Mulch Do I Need?

Determining how much mulch you need is fairly straightforward. A mulch calculator is nothing more than length x width. First, measure your yard’s length and width, garden bed, or the area surrounding the tree you wish to mulch. Multiply the length and width and round up to the nearest whole foot. Once you have the square footage, you’ll need to decide how thick a layer of mulch you want to put down. For most flower beds, two to three inches will suffice. If you have a coarser material, like bark chips, or you want to suppress weed growth, aim for six inches. Multiply the square footage of the area you wish to cover by how thick a layer you want. For example, a 25′ x 25′ yard is 625 square feet. 625 x 2 = 1,250 hundred square feet. Now divide this number by 324 since 1 cubic yard of mulch will cover 324 square feet 1 inch deep. So in this example, 1,250 divided by 324 is 3.85. Rounding up to the nearest whole number, you would need 4 cubic yards of mulch.

Mulch Definition

Now that you know how much mulch you’ll need, you need to determine what kind of mulch is best for your yard. The University of Kentucky defines mulch as: “any material that is placed on top of the soil, usually surrounding desirable plants or trees.” There are also two kinds of mulch: organic and inorganic. An example of inorganic would be something like recycled tires. Obviously, this sort of mulch is more decorative and won’t nourish your plants. It is a good option if you want something that will last for years. Otherwise, go with a nourishing organic option.

Wood Chips

Not only are these decorative, but they’re also great for suppressing weeds and grass growth in areas like flower beds. There’s one drawback: wood chips aren’t ideal for veggies, so keep this in mind if you intend to mulch a vegetable garden.


If you’ve got a tree or two, you’re in luck! Mow your lawn with the bag attached, and you’ve got yourself free mulch! If you don’t have a mower with a bag attachment, consider buying a mulcher that fits over a garbage bin. You’ll want to shred the leaves into smaller pieces so they can work into the soil. Letting too thick of a leaf layer sit on top of the soil can lead to root rot.

Grass Clippings

Possibly the best thing you can do for your veggie garden. It’s also easy to come by, like leaves. However, it doesn’t look very aesthetic, so if exterior design is important to you, keep that in mind.


Composting your kitchen scraps is an excellent way to create free topsoil. Keep in mind that compost tends to be on the dryer side, which isn’t ideal for plant roots. If you opt for compost, sprinkle a light layer over the soil and make sure to water it.

Straw or Hay

A layer of straw or hay creates a crisp look for your vegetable or flower bed. It’s great at retaining moisture as well, which means you won’t have to water as often.

How to Mulch

First, make sure you’ve weeded the area. Laying down mulch on top of existing weeds defeats the purpose. Second, spread the mulch around with a trowel, rake, or hand cultivator to ensure an even layer. Pro tip: if you’re going to be moving a lot of mulch, open each bag inside a wheelbarrow. It will make dispensing easier. For mulching around trees, leave a five-inch ring around the tree’s base and then mulch in a circle. This circle can be as wide as you’d like, but make sure not to have a very thick layer or a mulch volcano as it will harm the tree’s roots.

Get Professionally Installed Mulch From Alpine Tree And Lawn Care

If you don’t have time to create a mulching plan yourself, don’t worry! The experts at Alpine Lawn And Tree Care are here to help! We’ll measure your lawn, flower beds, or trees and shrubs that could use some extra nutrients. From there, we’ll advise you on which mulch is ideal for your yard and implement a care program that will help your yard reach its full potential. Call 586 884-7799 or contact us online today! And for more tips on lawn and tree care, be sure to check out our blog and like us on Facebook!

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