Selecting Flower Garden Mulch

By Todd Fratzel on Gardening

Flower Garden Mulch

Each year we mulch our flower gardens with pine bark mulch. Mulching your flower gardens has several benefits including:

  • Weed Control
  • Reduced Watering
  • Pest Control
  • Added Beauty and Value To Your Home

If you’ve taken a trip to your local garden center or nursery then you know there are more types of mulch to choose from than you can imagine. So how do you select a mulch for your flower garden? For me the answer is fairly easy so I’d like to share my thoughts on this subject.

Types of Flower Garden Mulch

In this part of the country (New England) I prefer using pine bark mulch (pictured in the photo of our flower gardens).  I like this mulch based on advice that we received several years ago from Roger Cook from the TV show This Old House. We were fortunate enough to have the crew from the show “Ask This Old House” film an episode at our first home in Massachusetts about mulching flower beds. Needless to say I respect his opinion greatly and I’ve kept using pine bark mulch ever since.

Bark Mulch In Different ColorsThe reason this mulch is good for us is it’s a locally available organic mulch. Pine bark is very abundant around here from the large timber industry so it’s a very “green” product. I like the dark earthy color of it which looks very natural and appropriate. I really can’t stand looking at the “bright orange” colored mulches that are obviously died. Not to mention what crazy chemicals are probably present in died mulch.

Types Of Mulch

There are lots of different mulch types to choose from.  I recommend you visit a local garden center or nursery and ask them which mulches are organic and locally produced. Organic mulches come in many different types including: bark mulch, straw, leaves, grass clippings, pine needles and most any type of previously living plant material. I just suggest you pick a chemical, die free organic material which is locally available.

How Much Mulch To Order

You can buy mulch in small quantities in bags at your local garden center. However, if you have any decent sized gardens then you’ll need to buy mulch in bulk. Mulch is typically sold by the cubic yard when it’s sold in bulk. So you’ll need to calculate the quantity of mulch in cubic yards. To do that you need to measure your flower gardens to come up with the area. Most mulch should be spread about 2 to 3 inches deep (it’s very important not to spread it deeper than that!).

Area = Length x Width
(just measure the length and width of your garden and multiply them). This should be done in feet.

Volume = Area (in square feet) x Depth (in inches) / 324
(this gives the volume in cubic yards)

Example: A 6 ft wide flower garden that’s 22 ft long with 3 inches of mulch.

Area = 6 ft x 22 ft = 132 sq. ft.

Volume = 132 sq. ft. x 3 inches / 324 = 1.22 cubic yards.

Most bulk mulch purchases will require even cubic yards. So for the example you’d want to order 2 cubic yards of mulch. For our yard we ordered 3 cubic yards of mulch. The mulch costs $21 per yard with a delivery fee of $45 (the garden center is 15 miles away). This is certainly much cheaper than buying it by the bag!

What kind of mulch do you use in your flower gardens?

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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