Mulch is a garden’s best friend.
It can prevent weeds, trap soil moisture, and protect plant roots from extreme temperatures. Mulch also adds depth to your landscaping and creates a fresh, welcoming look.
If you’re choosing mulch for your yard, then you’ve already made a smart step toward healthy and vibrant landscaping. But not all mulches are created equal, and it can be difficult to figure out which one is best for your particular needs.
We’re here to make your decision easier. Check out these pros and cons for four primary mulch types common to North Central Florida to learn how each one can impact your yard and landscaping.
What to Know Before Choosing Mulch for Your Property
Pine Bark Mulch
Pine bark is a natural, versatile mulch that we recommend frequently for properties in the Gainesville area. You can get it in small or big “nuggets,” or bark chips. It adds depth to your landscaping and can help your plants pop by highlighting their natural colors.
Pine bark mulch is especially great for blocking weeds from getting sunlight.
It’s also a very affordable choice.
There aren’t many!
Some people are wary of pine bark mulch because it has a reputation for floating away during heavy rain. However, we’ve found that the pine bark mulch we use binds together well and doesn’t have this problem.
Cedar mulch is useful if you want to make a statement with your mulch. For example, here in Gatorland, if you want to dye mulch orange and blue during football season, definitely go with cedar.
Cedar mulch also takes a long time to decompose, meaning you won’t have to replenish it often (though there are drawbacks to this, as we’ll explain below).
It’s also recognized as a good pest deterrent—and it just plain smells nice.
Since cedar mulch decomposes slowly, it can hog nitrogen in the soil away from your plants. For this reason you may want to avoid it especially in small flower beds or gardens.
It’s also not the most professional or natural looking type of mulch. If you’re not coloring it, we’d recommend using a different type.
Otherwise known as “pine straw,” this is another affordable, natural mulch option. You might choose pine needles if you’re looking for a lightweight mulch that will let water and sunlight permeate easily.
Since pine needles bind together well, they’re unlikely to float off in rain.
Pine needles can make your soil more acidic, which isn’t necessarily a problem—it just depends what type of plants are there. There are certain plants, including azaleas and flowering dogwoods, that tolerate acidic soil well. But if your soil pH is balanced and appropriate for your plants, throwing on pine needles could cause problems.
Want to go as natural as possible? Then leaf matter is the mulch for you. Fallen leaves are rich with nutrients that you can send right back into your soil by mulching them.
Plus, it’s totally free!
To use fallen leaves as mulch, you can just run a mower over them to shred them. You can also buy leaf shredders specifically for this purpose.
Shredded leaves don’t create the most tidy or professional look possible. For this reason, leaf matter mulch is actually prohibited by many HOAs.