Best Mulch For Flower Beds and Landscaping

by Alli

As soon as spring arrives, it’s time to get the yards in order and apply mulch. I think mulch adds so much to a landscaped yard. It looks neat plus it helps keep weeds at bay. 

Over the years I’ve used different types of mulch in my flower beds and around my trees. I started out with pine straw, then went to rubber (I thought it was so cool) then to redwood mulch. My current obsession is black wood. I’m in love!

If you are a beginner gardener, you may be pondering the question, “To mulch or not to mulch?”

To mulch or not?

Mulched gardens are healthier, more weed-free, and more drought-resistant then un-mulched gardens, so you’ll spend less time watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems. And anything that gives me more time is a good thing!  Plus, mulch just looks so neat and tidy!

How much mulch do you need?

A few years ago, I had a landscape pro from my church stop by and estimate how much mulch I would need. it came to 8 yards. That may not sound like a lot, but you should have seen the pile of mulch the dump truck delivered to my house!  

Why did I decide to put out the mulch by myself?  Because at the time it sounded like really good exercise. Note to self: It wasn’t that much fun, but I found muscles I didn’t know I had!

You need at least a 2-3 inch layer of mulch, but I like to put 3-4 because you won’t believe how fast it seems to disappear from one year to the next. Don’t go over 4 inches because too much can suffocate your plants. 

And I always put the new mulch over the old, unless it’s a new flower bed, then I always put a weed barrier down before spreading the new mulch. My favorite weed barrier is old newspapers. I have used the huge rolls of plastic, but I prefer newspapers.

If you’re having a hard time choosing, then read this article about finding the right material. 

Benefits of Mulch

  • Prevents weeds
  • Holds in moisture (you don’t have to water as often)
  • Pretty 
  • Reduces Soil Erosion 
  • Organic Mulch can decompose and add nutrients to the soil.

The only disadvantage is that organic mulch can be home to pests. 

Different Types of Mulch

  • Pine Straw
  • Bark
  • Rubber
  • Leaf
  • Hardwood
  • Glass
  • Stone
  • Crushed Brick 

Post Update: Next spring, I’m thinking about going with crushed brick. Why? I get tired of reapplying mulch every single year. Crushed brick is not organic so it doesn’t decompose and add nutrients. Because it doesn’t decompose, I won’t have to replace it year after year. Touch decisions!

My Decision to go with Black Wood

I had been contemplating black bark for a while when I finally bit the bullet and plunged right in. It was a gift from my husband for Mother’s Day. I know, I know!  Most women do not ask for mulch as a gift, but then again, I’m not most women. So I asked away!

Do you want to know the main reason I went with the black wood?  It’s pretty!

It took me an entire week to put out all of my new mulch because life kept interrupting. I worked for 3-4 hours early every morning. At one point chiggers or redbugs or something attacked my arms and face! So much for applying bug spray and thank God for concealer!

First of all, chiggers nor red bugs burrow down into your skin! Someone told me that they did and freaked me out so I had to research the heck out of it. Also, putting clear fingernail polish on the bites did not work for me. Here’s what really works: Absorbine Jr.  You will smell horrible, but trust me, it works.

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Back to Gardening 

My grandsons helped me one morning and we really got a lot of work done!


Afterward, we were filthy, so they showered while I worked a little longer. After I showered, we had a bubble blowing contest and played Cutthroat Bridge. 🙂

Bubblegum Contest

Logan won!

Here’s how my flower beds looked before applying the new mulch!

Before New Mulch

My flower beds looked tired, neglected, sad, rejected, etc.

Here are some of my flower beds now!  (It helps that some of my flowers are now blooming!)

Black Wood Mulch

I love how my flower beds look now! All the hard work and sore muscles are well worth it. 

Black Wood Mulch



Madaline May 27, 2014 - 6:18 am

First: I am SO happy those bugs did not burrow into your skin! Second your flower beds look gorgeous. Is it weird that I really like the smell of mulch? Haha.

Alli May 27, 2014 - 7:07 am

That is a little weird. 🙂

Sarah May 27, 2014 - 7:19 am

I can’t wait to have our own home so I can start a garden!

Alli May 27, 2014 - 9:15 am

It’s really fun! I just wished I had paid attention to my mom when I was a little girl because she knows the names of all flowers.

Christine May 27, 2014 - 7:56 am

I used to buy red mulch because I thought it would look better with my brick house. Then after a few years I found that it looked too ”fake”. I then switched to brown mulch.. and I love it! My sister uses black mulch like you do… and I must say that I think I prefer the black mulch over my brown. I find the black looks more like earth.. so pretty!

Just like you, I always put my new mulch over my old mulch… I get less and less weeds every year because of it. LOVE THAT!

Alli May 27, 2014 - 9:14 am

Exactly! The black looks more like really healthy soil! I’m glad I changed from red to black.

Clancy Cash Harrison MS, RD, LDN May 27, 2014 - 8:02 am

We mulch and just got 2 tons delivered! Anyone want to come to Pa and help? I hope you are enjoying your summer with that cutie of yours.

Alli May 27, 2014 - 9:13 am

No, thanks! 🙂 I think I’ve had enough of mulch for this year. I normally have it delivered in early spring. I had to deal with 90 degree weather a couple of days this time. Not fun!

Jenny.U May 27, 2014 - 8:12 am

We do the same and get it by the truckload. This year we did it in the veggie garden. Cant’ wait to see how the weeds deal!

Alli May 27, 2014 - 9:12 am

I always need too much to buy those little bags of mulch! 🙂

Christy Clark May 27, 2014 - 8:15 am

Your yard looks so nice. I hate yard work, but I love beautiful yard..I guess I should get over that right?

Alli May 27, 2014 - 9:11 am

I always ‘think’ I like garden work until I’m dog tired! 🙂

Melinda Snavley May 27, 2014 - 8:40 am

I’m going to do that next weekend I still use the red but my flowers love it. 🙂

Logan Cantrell May 27, 2014 - 9:28 am

Wow the before and after pictures are great! I can really see a huge difference. We have been talking about putting mulch in our flower beds. We probably need to do it pretty soon.

Alli May 27, 2014 - 9:49 am

Do it before it gets too hot. Trust me on that one. I almost waited too late this year.

Louida May 27, 2014 - 9:36 am

I sooo don’t have a green thumb so I haven’t planted anything before. Your garden turned out great Alli!

Alli May 27, 2014 - 9:48 am

Thanks, Louida! I didn’t really start gardening until I was in my late 30’s. I didn’t think I had a green thumb, but I really enjoy it now.

Jen @ West Street Story May 27, 2014 - 10:26 am

Wow, the black mulch looks great Alli! I usually go with red, but I {meaning my husband} might try putting black mulch down this year. To be honest, I do not really feel like putting mulch down with everything going on, but it really stinks if you miss a year!

Alli May 27, 2014 - 11:36 am

I know. I missed last year and my flower beds looked horrible.

Ricci May 27, 2014 - 10:43 am

Pretty!!! My house was originally landscaped with red mulch and I have always put more of that out but last year I went with a dark brown mulch and love it!! I definitely say MULCH!!

Alli May 27, 2014 - 11:37 am

I bet the dark brown is pretty, too!

Anna @ Northern Homestead May 27, 2014 - 11:44 am

Just beautiful! We mulch to, simple with wood chips, but the small kind that composts and helps the soil the get better. There is the Back to Eden Film (free just Google for it) all about mulching in the garden. He compares it with covering, a really great film.

Reginia Cordell May 27, 2014 - 9:25 pm

When I lived in Atlanta, I would mulch each spring. I didn’t think that I would like yard work but Ioved making my lawn beautiful. I used Scott’s Mulch in black. I think I bought about 15-20 bags for the front and side… maybe more. I tried using the formula on the back. 🙂

Meegan May 27, 2014 - 10:40 pm

Great post Alli. Your yard and planters look great. Ready for Summer…

Alli May 28, 2014 - 6:18 am

Thanks, Meegan!

Shirley Wood May 28, 2014 - 6:30 am

Alli, that is a LOT of mulch! We had a dump truck load of top soil delivered several years ago. I had the same thought, lets do it ourselves, great exercise! Never again!
We mulch constantly in our yard by adding the raked leaves into the flower beds which we top with pine straw. I love the look of fresh layers of pine straw.

zan May 28, 2014 - 3:00 pm

I missed this post yesterday! Looks great and that is a lot of mulch. I thought of doing some for my front yard, too. But opted out and went with rocks instead! Your after picture is lovely and the area you live in seems beautiful!

Woodworker Oliver February 6, 2017 - 10:36 am

Good stuff Alli. Thanks for sharing.

I usually use 3 inches of mulch. Found that to be the sweet spot.
Also, hardwood mulch does the job for me 🙂


GYM June 30, 2017 - 6:59 am

I had a bad experience of usage of old newspapers. The weeds went trough it after one(!) season. Now I use branded weed barrier. Some of them can last for decades.


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