Nothing says “home” quite like a beautiful garden. And when it comes to gardening, one of the most important factors is controlling the environment in which your plants grow. One way to do this is by using one of the best bagged mulch for your yard. And there are hundreds of options available to choose from. The bad news is that it is quite difficult to find your way through the different bagged mulch.
This is why we have researched the best bagged mulches available on the market and we have selected the top ones. During our investigation, we decided to evaluate several mulches by looking at the following three main criteria:
The products we selected will be of interest to you. We ensured that we shortlisted a mixture of natural organic and inorganic mulches. They all provide excellent moisture retention (a must-have feature). We also looked at ensuring a very slow fading color occurs over time to your mulch so that your garden keeps looking great during the summer period. You can find our Buyer’s Guide and FAQ on the best mulch available out there further down the page.
8 Best Bagged Mulch Reviews in 2023 – Our Top Picks
Here, are 8 of the most popular bagged mulches you can choose from:
- #1. 100% Natural Cedar Shavings Bagged Mulch – Best Overall
- #2. Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Bagged Mulch – Best For Moisture
- #3. Organic MECHANICS Hardwood Bark Bagged Mulch – Best Biodegradable
- #4. Oldcastle Lawn & Garden Cypress Bagged Mulch – Best No Float In Wind
- #5. Pine Bark Bagged Mulch – Best Weed Blocking
- #6. EZ Straw Bagged Mulch – Best For Vegetables
- #7. GreenView Fairway Formula Seeding Success Mulch – Best Biodegradable
- #8. Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets Black Mulch – Best For Play Ground
#1. 100% Natural Cedar Shavings Bagged Mulch – Best Overall
This organic mulch is made from shredded cedar trees, and it’s a great choice for gardeners who want to avoid using synthetic materials.
Cedar mulch is a natural weed suppressant, and it helps retain moisture in the soil. It’s also a good choice for gardeners who are interested in attracting wildlife to their yards with convenience, reliability, and affordability.
This bagged mulch comes from a reputable brand and it does everything that a traditional mulch is supposed to do like weed control and water retention. It also just looks really nice in a garden and holds its reddish and yellowish color well. Note that this mulch is one of the better generic all-purpose brands on the market.
- Repels insects
- Reduces weeds growing
- Regulates soil temperature
- Reduces soil moisture evaporation
- Regulate water runoff
- Nice smells
- Has pleasant color and look
- May deplete the soil of nitrogen
- Could discourage beneficial bugs from residing in your garden
- Can make the soil more acidic
- Could be expensive
#2. Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Shell Bagged Mulch – Best For Moisture
Hull Farm Cocoa Bean Bagged Mulch is a high-quality mulch made from recycled cocoa shells. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to beautify their yard.
That’s why we put this bagged mulch as our next choice.
The first thing that we should note here is that this mulch is made of the outside shell of cocoa beans and is 100% organic. It also retains water quite well and never makes your soil soggy.
One of the best things that it does is that it keeps nasty pests out of your soil and garden as well as unwanted weeds, mold, and extra stuff that grows around your tree and plant roots.
Overall, it is a pretty fair deal for this bagged mulch and you can easily have it at an affordable price. And this brand has been around for a while so we can definitely vouch for its quality. Note that you should not use this mulch if you have pets as it can poison them.
- Good water retention
- Weed suppression
- Improves soil texture
- Does not strip nitrogen
- May smell like chocolate
- A bit expensive
- Toxic to dogs
#3. Organic MECHANICS Hardwood Bark Bagged Mulch – Best Biodegradable
Organic MECHANICS Hardwood Bark bagged mulch is a brand that has been out there for a long time. So it is a product that you can easily rely on to perform well.
In essence, Organic MECHANICS Mulch is a great way to improve the appearance of your garden while also adding valuable nutrients to the soil. The mulch is made of 100% organic materials, including bark and wood chips, which means it won’t harm your plants or soil. In fact, the mulch can actually help improve drainage and aeration in the soil.
MECHANICS stands out as it does a superior job of retaining and maintaining proper soil moisture. It gives you that Goldilocks scenario where it is not too much or too little. We can’t really say the same with other brands, which tend to make your soil a little too soggy at times. It also really helps insulate soil to aid root growth, which is crucial for yields.
This is one of the better brands out there and is packaged and processed without extra fillers.
- Provide a protective layer for rose roots
- Keeps the soil moist
- Easy to use
- Can be used for most plants
- Not expensive
- Need to be replenished often
#4. Oldcastle Lawn & Garden Cypress Bagged Mulch – Best No Float In Wind
If you’re looking for an attractive, natural way to mulch your garden and protect your plants, you should consider using Oldcastle Lawn & Garden Cypress Bagged Mulch. This mulch is made of 100% cypress wood, which is a sustainable resource. It’s also dyed a lovely dark green, which will help to disguise the appearance of bare patches in your garden.
One bag of this mulch will cover up to 10 square feet.
One of the standout features of this mulch is that it tends to stay in place and doesn’t just fly around everywhere in a storm. We wish we could say the same with other brands.
So this cypress mulch is considered no float and definitely helps retain moisture as well as keep weeds out of your soil and garden. The company says the secret is in the way they tear the wood.
While we think the secret is simply just in the amazing quality and freshness, we would like to think the way the wood is processed actually makes a difference.
- Cheaper than hardwood mulch
- Attractive to the eye
- Durable and long-lasting
- Offers a pleasant aroma smell
- Adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down
- A great cover for soil insulation
- More acidic than hardwood mulch
- likely to be washed away in heavy rain
#5. Pine Bark Mulch in bags to protect plant roots – Best Weed Blocking
The Pine Bark Mulch Bagged Mulch is a high-quality, 100% natural pine bark mulch that is perfect for gardening projects.
This mulch is great for covering house plants, and it also helps retain moisture in the soil. The 4qt bag of pine bark mulch is 13×10 inches, and it is a great value for the price.
Pine bark is a plant-growing media, and experts advise using it in terrariums. It is perfect for easy and clean pouring and this mulch is known to provide nutrients to plants.
As it is a natural product, it makes it environmentally friendly and prevents weeds. By the way, not only it can be used to help maintain moisture levels in soil, and suppress weed growth, but is also often used to improve the appearance of landscapes.
It is a little more pricey pound for pound than other brands, we think that it certainly gets the job done better.
- Long-lasting (bigger nuggets last longer)
- Good weed suppression
- Looks very attractive in the garden
- Good water retention
- May tumble down slopes
- Very light, so may be washed away in heavy rain
#6. EZ Straw Bagged Garden Mulch to Improve Soil – Best For Vegetables
If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to add color and nutrients to your garden, consider using EZ Straw Bagged Mulch. This mulch is available in a brownish color and is made of natural materials.
One cubic foot of EZ Straw Bagged Mulch will cover up to 200 square feet, making it a great option for small to medium garden areas.
This mulch is also seeding-friendly, so you can plant new plants right into it. So when the weather begins to warm up at your end in the spring, you need to think about mulching your gardens using this straw.
This mulch is good at keeping the soil healthy and prevents weeds from growing. The straw is really easy to use. Simply spread it around your plants, and then tuck it in between them.
The light color reflects light and keeps the soil cool and moist. Straw also lasts one season. We like this mulch because it does not contain weed seeds and is one of the top mulch types.
- Control weeds
- Retain moisture
- Breaks down slowly
- Very easy to use
- Does not blow away
- May have some dust at times
#7. GreenView Fairway Formula Seeding Compost – Best Biodegradable
If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly and successful way to seed your lawn, look no further than the GreenView Fairway Formula Seeding Success Biodegradable Mulch with Fertilizer.
This product is made with biodegradable mulch that helps keep the grass seed moist while it germinates. There is an added fertilizer inside the mulch that helps the new grass grow strong and healthy.
In addition, this 38 lb. bag will cover up to 760 sq. ft., making it a great value for your money. There is a very interesting feature to this mulch. The Fairway Formula Seeding mix contains a tackifier that helps the paper mulch stay in place on high-wind days and in sloping areas.
Plus, this fertilizer is also great at helping your bare spot turf repair and get off to a new strong start.
- Great seeding formula
- Adds nutrients to the soil to help plant growth
- Maintain moisture
- Aid germination
- Does not provide weather protection
#8. Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets Black – Best For Play Ground
Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggetsblack mulch is a great way to enhance the appearance of your landscape.
This black Rubber Mulch Nuggets mulch is one of those mulches that has been used by experts on landscapes, gardens, and flower beds. So, if you are looking for a safe and eco-friendly flooring solution for your playground, Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets is a perfect choice.
These nuggets are made of 100% recycled rubber, and they dry quickly and will never freeze in cold weather.
They are easy to spread, making them perfect for use in playgrounds, swing sets, play areas, and obviously, your landscaping projects.
This product is a 40 lb color-enhanced classic black mulch that offers 12 years warranty and a more vivid color remaining in the mulch.
- Can help prevent fungal growth in plants
- Great for playgrounds, swingsets
- Great for landscaping
- From recycled tire sources
- Does not attract bugs
- hardly blows away in heavy wind
- Several colors
- Does not absorb water
- May be toxic to plants
- Not environmental friendly
Note that 100% natural cedar shavings, Hull Farm cocoa bean mulch, organic MECHANICS hardwood bark mulch, Oldcastle Lawn & Garden Cypress mulch, and pine bark bagged mulch are all organic great choices.
If you are looking for a natural look option, cedar shavings are a good choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for a mulch that will help with moisture retention, cocoa bean hulls are a good option. If you are looking for organic mulch with some wooden character for landscaping, then hardwood bark is a good choice.
Finally, if you are looking for a mulch that will help with weed control, pine bark is a good choice.
How to choose a mulch – A Buying Guide
There are three main criteria that need your attention when selecting a mulch for your garden. These are:
- The use
- Pet friendly
1. Use of the mulch
Before buying any mulch, you need to think of its end use. For instance, you may want mulch that helps to prevent soil erosion caused by rainfall or wind. Or you may want to lay mulch for it to act as a protective layer that ensures the soil is not exposed to extreme climatic conditions, such as freeze and thaw cycles.
Mulching also can help regulate the soil temperature and conserve moisture, allowing plants to grow healthy and strong. Inorganic mulch, such as plastic, may not decompose and is favored in areas where you need no weeds. Organic mulch, like manure and compost, enriches the soil as it decomposes, improving the growth rate of plants.
It is important to note that mulch needs to be replenished periodically because it decomposes over time for organic type. Ultimately, the use of mulch guarantees an environment that is conducive to plant growth, and it significantly reduces the amount of water needed for plants to thrive. Thus, it is a sustainable option that benefits both the environment and the gardener himself.
2. Pet friendly
As a pet owner, it’s important to know what types of mulch are safe for pets. Not all mulch products are pet-friendly, and some can even be harmful or toxic. For example, cocoa shells are a popular mulch choice but can be dangerous to dogs due to their caffeine and theobromine content. These compounds can cause a variety of adverse effects in dogs, including vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, tremors, and seizures. To avoid putting your pet at risk, it is best to avoid cocoa shell mulch altogether. Instead, look for natural mulch alternatives that are safe for pets, like wood chips, pine straws, shredded leaves, or inorganic rubber pellets. If you are concerned about your dog ingesting mulch, it may be best to avoid using it in areas they frequent. By choosing pet-friendly mulch options, you can create a beautiful garden or landscape that is also safe and enjoyable for your furry friends.
3. Type of mulch
There are two main categories of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic mulch is made out of natural materials including wood, straw, paper, leaves, grass clippings, and compost. This type of mulch breaks down over time and enriches the soil with nutrients. However, some of these mulches may contain pesticides and chemicals, so it is important to read the label before using it. On the other hand, inorganic mulch is made from synthetic materials, such as rubber mulch or plastic weed cloth. It does not break down over time and does not enrich the soil, but it is durable and long-lasting. Both types of mulch have their own benefits and drawbacks and choosing the right type of mulch depends on your gardening needs.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What is mulch?
Mulch is a gardener’s favorite tool used to prevent weed growth, provide a nice look to your garden, and protect your plants against frost damage. As such, mulch plays a major part in making a garden a beautiful area to sit and enjoy summer nights.
There are many different types of mulch that can be applied for different purposes and soil. But why choose the best mulch?
Simply put your plant and garden matter to you. But there’s something else. You want to choose the perfect mulch for your garden because it will allow you to build outstanding landscaping at a reasonable cost.
Are bagged mulch good for your garden bed?
Yes, bagged mulch is good to use for your garden soil. Here are the reason and main benefits of buying mulch in bags:
- Bags are easy to transport and store.
- A bag can be opened and closed several times. Like this, the mulch inside the bag will not decompose over time. This is really important for aromatic mulch to not lose its nice smell before being laid down in your garden.
- The quality of the mulch is kept over time.
- They are affordable.
- It is easy to dispose of the bags in specialized bins, which saves on cleanup time.
How much mulch do I need?
Generally speaking, you will need about 3-4 inches of mulch for optimum results. If you are using a heavier material like stones or gravel, you will need less. If you are using lighter material like straw or pine needles, you will need a little more (a maximum of 5 inches, though you can reduce it and see how it goes through time). It’s a good idea to spread the mulch out evenly so that it covers the entire surface of your garden bed.
Is colored mulch good for my garden?
There are people who like to use colored mulch in their gardens because it makes them look more attractive. However, there are pros and cons to using colored mulch in your garden. On the positive side, colored mulch can help keep weeds under control (but standard mulch does that too) and make your garden look nicer. On the negative side, it can be more expensive than other types of mulch, and it can also heat up the soil more than uncolored mulch (especially black-colored mulch), which can be harmful to plants. In addition, colored mulch may contain chemicals that will disorb through your soil and plant. So if you are planting readable plants, it is probably best to stay away from these.
So is colored mulch good for your garden? It depends on your individual situation and preference, but you’ll benefit visually from the different colors and textures. Mulch is simply a great home improvement too when you want to sell your house as it keeps your garden clean but also appealing to your visitors who want to buy your property.
How to spread mulch like a pro?
Homeowners can easily spread mulch like a pro using a few simple techniques. The first step is to choose the right mulch for the job (see above for the different types of bagged mulch you can use). Once you’ve selected the right mulch, it’s time to get started spreading it around, layer after layer of mulch.
To spread mulch like a pro, start by raking the area you will be mulching to remove any debris or weeds. Then, spread the mulch in a thin layer using a shovel or hoe. Be sure to distribute the mulch evenly so that it covers the entire area. Finally, tamp down the mulch with a rake or your foot to help it settle in place. It’s best if you can add a second and third layer of much in the same way till you reach the 3 to 4 inches thickness described above. We usually do this in steps. We put the first layer on day one, then the second layer on day two, and the last mulch layer on day 3. This is how we avoid putting a thick layer right from day one and then cannot control the effect thereafter.
Now, you’re done. Remember the time to mulch is usually in spring or fall. This is the time you get all the benefits of mulch especially if you are using organic mulch. It is best to avoid using inorganic materials to cover the soil.