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How Much Does Mulch Cost?

Typical Range: $160 - $270

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When you need to keep your flowers and shrubs moist during the summer and protect them from pests, mulch offers the most efficient solution. Mulch is any material that you spread over soil as a secondary covering for roots. It helps to retain moisture, discourage weeds and lower the soil temperature. It also increases the attractiveness of your garden beds and separates it from the grass. If you invest in organic mulch, it also improves the soil's fertility over time as the mulch decomposes. Here is more information on mulch and what to consider if you buy a few bags for your garden beds.

On This Page:

  1. Bulk Mulch Prices
  2. Organic Mulch Prices
  3. How Much Mulch Do You Need?
  4. Mulch Installation Costs
  5. Where is Mulch Used?
  6. Additional Considerations

Bulk Mulch Prices

Covering a few garden beds might require only a few bags of mulch. However, if you want to cover a large portion of your front or backyard, you probably should buy in bulk. The average price of bulk mulch is between $15 and $65 per cubic yard, though some bags are priced to cover more than one cubic yard. Unless you own a truck or SUV, consider having the mulch delivered to your home, which adds an extra $350 to $700 to these prices.

Here are some costs of bulk mulch types by the cubic yard:

  • Black Hardwood
    • 1 cubic yard – $64
    • 2 - 5 cubic yards – $46 per yard
    • 6 - 11 cubic yards – $42 per yard
  • Colored: $33 per cubic yard
  • Dark Brown Fines: $35 per cubic yard
  • Double Shredded Log: $24 per cubic yard
  • Hardwood Oak Bark
    • 1 cubic yard – $60
    • 1.5 cubic yards – $75
    • 2-5 cubic yards – $43 per yard
    • 6-11 cubic yards – $33 per yard
  • Natural: $19 per cubic yard
  • Natural Fines:  $16 per cubic yard
  • Screened Natural:  $24 per cubic yard
  • Shredded Log:  $19 per cubic yard
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Organic Mulch Prices

Organic mulch is any type of mulch made from plant materials. You can find some in your yard, but if you need a large quantity, buy it at your local home improvement store. Some common organic mulch materials you can use and their prices include:

  • Pine bark/needles: Use this loose mulch to help plant roots absorb and retain moisture. You shouldn’t use it if you live in wet or windy areas, though, because it easily blows away. It costs about 10 to $12 per 2 cubic feet.
  • Straw/hay: You can purchase straw and hay for about $4 to $5 per bale. It decomposes annually, so you will need to replace it every year. It’s good for lawns that you want to seed or for preparing a garden for new spring growth.
  • Wood chips/nuggets: You can purchase these at local home improvement stores or nurseries for about $10 to $12 per 2 cubic feet. Most varieties are made with pine, but know that wood chips and nuggets often attract bugs. Keep an eye out for slime mold though, which can grow on wood chips in moist conditions. You will need to have it removed professionally.
  • Yard waste: You don’t have to pay anything to use your yard waste as mulch. Reuse leaves, lawn clippings and compost as organic mulch in your garden beds.
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Inorganic Mulch Prices

If you don’t want to invest in organic mulch, you can also use inorganic mulch. The inorganic mulch varieties are made from materials other than plants. Some of them are so dense that they don’t allow weed growth. You can find them at most local home improvement centers or nurseries. They include:

  • Landscape cloth: This is used to prevent weed growth. It also allows air and water to penetrate the soil to your plants' roots. Usually rocks or other types of mulch are placed atop it to improve the look of the garden bed. You can purchase rolls of it for about $20.
  • Plastic: Water and air can’t get through plastic sheets since it’s about 4 millimeters thick. It’s used around plants with a hole cut through it so it can't compromise the root system. Plastic sheets cost between $25 and $30 for a 15 x 3-foot roll.
  • Rocks/gravel: The cost to install gravel or rocks over a garden bed varies depending on the type you choose. It’s usually delivered by the truckload or in 50-pound bags, which cost about $10. They allow water and air to reach the roots, but discourage weed growth at the same time. You might have to weed your garden occasionally, however, when stubborn weeds break through.
  • Rubber mulch: This prevent fungus and unwanted insects from getting to your plant roots. It’s used for playgrounds in addition to landscaping. You can pick many types of color variations depending on what matches your garden best. Rubber mulch costs between $10 and $12 per 2 cubic feet.
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How Much Do You Need?

You can either buy mulch in bags or in bulk. Bags cover about 2 cubic feet each. Bulk mulch starts at about 2 cubic yards (13.5 bags), and you can have it delivered for between $350 and $680 by a mulch delivery service. If you choose to do the project yourself, you can probably fit about 30 bags in an SUV, which would cover a garden measuring 60 cubic feet.

Some common mulch options and their prices include:

  • Economy mulch: $20 to $25 per yard ($2 to $5 per bag)
  • Hardwood/dyed mulch: $30 to $40 per yard ($3 to $7 per bag)
  • Premium mulch: $40 to $50 per yard ($4 to $8 per bag)
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Mulch Installation Costs

For professional mulch installation, you might pay anywhere between $160 and $270, although this won’t include the cost to buy or deliver mulch. This is determined by the square footage of area you need covered along with labor and delivery costs. Labor varies from pro to pro, depending on whether they charge by the hour or square foot. Ask ahead of time so you know what the quote entails. Your charges for delivery will come either from the pro if you buy from him or her or from the local home improvement store if you buy the mulch ahead of time.

When you hire a professional to install mulch professionally, you must choose the type of mulch you want. There are various types and their costs will vary. Some prices to consider for different types, by the bag, are:

  • Red Mulch - $5 to $10 per bag
  • Rubber Mulch - $10 to $30 per bag
  • Brown Mulch - $10 to $30 per bag
  • Black Mulch - $1 to $5 per bag
  • Cedar Mulch - $1 to $5 per bag
  • Pine Mulch - $5 to $10 per bag
  • Purple Mulch - $5 to $12 per bag

If you have mulch delivered and professionally installed, then you probably have a big project on your hands for the front or backyard. Maybe you are:

  • Laying a new lawn
  • Starting a new garden
  • Reseeding part of your lawn
  • Laying mulch along driveways, sidewalks or foundations
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Where is Mulch Typically Used?

There are various uses for mulch around the yard, depending on the type you choose. Beyond just organic and inorganic, you have specific materials.

  • Bark chips: Lay these around tree roots and shrubs or use them in garden beds  where you don’t dig a lot. Also consider putting these around front walkways or foundations because they don't move around much.
  • Compost or manure: You can put this kind of mulch anywhere as long as you don't anticipate many weeds. Compost and manure help contribute valuable nutrients to the soil during the growing season.
  • Grass clippings: These are best for the remote parts of your garden where you don’t want any weeds to grow. They decompose quickly and sometimes give off a foul odor, so they aren’t the most attractive option.
  • Shredded leaves: You can use these anywhere and they're more appealing than grass clippings. Bugs frequently gather around decaying leaves, so don't use them near flowers or certain shrubbery that require protection from insects.
  • Straw or salt hay: Use this in your vegetable gardens. It prevents soil-borne diseases from infecting your plant leaves and it prevents mud. It also lasts for a long time so you don’t have to replace it frequently.
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Additional Considerations

Mulch benefits your garden bed in many ways, but chief among them is the improvement of your home's curb appeal. When you add it to your garden beds, think about the aesthetic impact as well as its functional benefits.

Some other tips on mulching to consider are:

  • Adding 2-3 inches onto new beds to ensure soil moisture but only 1 inch to prevent suffocating the roots when applying more mulch later
  • Applying weed killers before putting down the mulch and then periodically uprooting any weeds to prevent further growth
  • Re-edging the garden bed to prevent mulch from blowing away in windy conditions
  • Smoothing the mulch after application to ensure a pleasant, uniform look for the yard
  • Blowing away excess debris -- leaves, grass clippings -- if you use inorganic mulch to prevent pests or diseases from attacking your plants.

Always apply mulch when the soil is warm but not excessively hot, so aim for the early spring or late fall. Mulch is good for moisture retention, but it also protects the roots from excessive heat or cold, so you can use it during both summer and winter conditions. Make sure you choose a mulch that blends well with your landscape, whether it’s rubber mulch with a nice color or organic mulch that doesn’t decay too quickly.

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