While mulch is most often installed for its decorative purpose, this should be the last thing considered in choosing mulch. Mulch serves other purposes like moisture retention, erosion control, and the prevention of weeds. Garden plants will also receive nutrients and protection from extreme changes in temperature. In view of these purposes, research the following pros and cons of each type of mulch below.

Shredded Hardwood

shredded hardwood Hardwood mulch is a byproduct from the saw mills. The bark from hardwood trees is removed and composted. After about 6 months it is then shredded and screened. The longer it is composted the darker the color. Grounded and Growing sells shredded hardwood mulch in bulk and in bags. Triple cut is available in bulk.
Pros: When produced properly, it provides a dark rich color full of nutrients. The double cut helps prevent erosion, while the triple cut breaks down easily into the soil. Hardwood mulch also insulates well protecting your plants from extreme temperatures.
Cons: Hardwood mulch tends to compact and needs loosened occasionally. This will allow for proper air circulation and water. Soil Ph levels typically rise with hardwood mulch. The dark color can cause soil temperature to rise in the summer. Watering thoroughly can help retard many of these concerns.

Pine Bark/Needles

pine needles Pine bark mulch is the bark only of pine trees. It is produced in a variety of sizes. The bark nuggets are a byproduct of the paper and lumber industries. The thicker, more colorful bark is often from Ponderosa pines like those found in Montana. Pine needle mulch is more popular in the southern states but is being used more widely for its unique appearance.

pine nuggetPros: Pine bark mulch doesn't compact like most other mulches. It is great for your conifers and other acid loving plants. Pine bark also makes a great soil conditioner. Work it into the soil for areas with heavy and compacted soil. Pine needle mulch doesn't compact.
Cons: Soil may be too acidic for many flowers and shrubs. The Ph can be adjusted using lime.


cypress mulch Cypress mulch has a reddish tan color and is made from cypress trees growing in the swamps of Florida and parts of southern Georgia. Premium Cypress is the whole tree. Both the bark and tree are shredded. In contrast, grade A cypress is bark only.
Pros: Cypress mulch is decay resistant, an excellent insect repellant, and does well in moist areas. It also does well at retarding weeds, retaining moisture, and insulating the soil.
Cons: Both grades of cypress compact and should be loosened occasionally. They also do not offer any nutritional value. It is more expensive than most mulch but it will last longer.
Cedar mulch is very similar to the characteristics of cypress; however it will lose its color much faster than most mulches.

Color Enhanced

red mulch Color enhanced mulch is often produced from the shredding of recycled pallets. It is a mixture of shredded hardwood with very little, if any, bark. Color enhanced mulch comes in a variety of colors; red, black, brown, gold, and nude.
Pros: Color enhanced mulch will give you the greatest color selection of all mulches. It retards weeds, retains moisture, and helps insulate the soil.
Cons: Compacting is a problem that can be minimized by cultivating. The colors tend to fade and gray. Also the coarseness of the mulch does not break down, having no nutritional value.

* Mulch varieties will vary with location and availabilities. We have just listed some of the most common mulch types in Northern Ohio.

Plant Coverings

Covering plants during the winter is not to prevent plants from freezing, but rather to keep them frozen. Protection should not be applied until after the ground freezes for the first time. The thawing from the daily sun and refreezing at night is dangerous for plant life. Snow is one of the best covering provided by nature. Since snow isn't always available, consider using hay or straw. Leaves are not recommended as they do not allow proper air circulation.

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