The Best (and Worst!) Mulch for Your Garden

Our very own Grumpy Gardener gives you the low-down on the mulch varieties to buy and those to avoid.

Welcome to Mulch World. This is where the grumpy gardener is gonna tell you everything you need to know about the mulches for your garden, the ones that are really good, and the ones that really stink.

Hands Holding Mulch
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Best Mulch

This first one, that I like, this is called pine straw. Falls from pine trees, people pick this up, they make it into bales. When you put it down, it stays in place, it doesn't wash away, it cools the soil. So If you've got a choice, you've got lots of pine trees in your area, pine straw is a very good option for you.

Next would be pine bark mini nuggets. What I like about this first of all is it has a really dark brown color, and that makes it work very well in the landscape. It stays in place. It doesn't wash away. It slowly decomposes, putting organic matter in the soil. And I think it's also the best mulch for using in containers when you wanna just top off that container and keep all the potting soil in there from splashing out.

Ground cypress mulch is another natural material, and it's perfectly good mulch. But I gotta confess, I don't like it as much as I like the pine bark mini nuggets. The main reason is simply the color. It just stands out. You look at the mulch first and it just shouts, hey, I just planted something.

Worst Mulch

I'd like to say something nice about red-dyed mulch, but frankly, that's impossible. This stuff is just awful to use as mulch. For one thing, it's not even really natural wood Like you would get from bark and trees. This stuff is ground up junk wood, like from old pallets. Who knows where it came from? So please, whatever you do, stop using red dyed mulch. It just makes you look foolish.

Now if you thought red dyed mulch was the absolute worst thing you could put down in your garden, you got another thing coming. Kemo Sabe is rubber mulch. Yes, it's made from rubber. Where do they get the rubber? From ground up rubber tires. Doesn't that sound like something wonderful you'd wanna spread just all around your house. So promise me you're not going to use rubber mulch. Leave that for the Michelin Man.

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