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  • Hope Valley Lawn and Landscape

Mulch type selection - it's more than just aesthetics

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

When you walk into your local home improvement center or garden center, you see a wide variety of "mulch" materials to use in your beds: shredded hardwood (natural, brown, black, red), shredded cypress, pine bark (large and mini chunks), pine straw, etc. Each has it's own aesthetic appeal which is usually the driver of the decision on which one is chosen. In addition to visual appeal, you should also taken into account the following factors:

- How much runoff during a heavy rain storm will wash over the mulch

- How steep is the bed

- Do you expect the mulch to offer a level of protection against weed growth

- Is the bed in a full sun partial sun, or shady environment

- How often do you expect to replenish the mulch

At Hope Valley Lawn and Landscape in Durham, NC, we often use shredded hardwood in beds that are relatively flat. It stays in place, offers a decent weed barrier and overtime degrades into high quality soil which is beneficial to plantings. Colored varieties of mulch tend to hold their color for about a year. Longleaf pine straw, which is harvested from long leaf pine trees is a great solution for beds that are on a steep angle. Pine straw does not wash away in heavy rain and offers a good level of weed protection. Pine bark nuggets are one type of mulch that we stay away from. Pine bark nuggets wash and blow away easily. Additionally, overtime, as it loses it's color, the mulch does not degrade, which requires you to either remove it or try to cover it up completely. After multiple installations, the layer tends to stack on one another.

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