Bagged -vs- Bulk

This always seems to be the question! Everyone has their preference.

The State Department of Weights and Measures regularly inspects mulch bagging operations, therefore the volume of mulch must be within 5% of what is stated on the bag. Bulk mulch is not regulated by the Weights and Measures Department, therefore the volume you receive is determined by the equipment operator and is based on judgment. The volume of bulk will sometimes appear to be more than the same volume in bags, but it’s not. It appears that way because bagged mulch compresses from the bagging and palletizing process. Where as, bulk mulch is frequently fluffed from repeated handling.

Throwing a few bags into a wheelbarrow is faster and easier than shoveling bulk. There is a tendency to spread mulch thicker and use more when you dump bulk from a wheelbarrow. Distributing mulch from a bag is less of a mess and more efficient. Using bags allows you to spread the work out over a few days. By using bulk, you’ll want to finish the job in a timely manner if you wish to park in the garage.

First... The value of your time. Bulk can be less expensive, however it takes more time to apply.
Second... Accuracy! The size of scoops (or buckets) used for loading bulk mulch vary, as do the equipment operators. Some suppliers sell bulk mulch by the bucket. Therefore, the volume can vary greatly and the value is uncertain depending which company, which operator, which machine is loading it.. Though a lot of time and effort is spent on accurate bulk loading, bags are still more accurate. Generally cypress in the bag is, in fact, cheaper than bulk. The shipping cost of bulk Cypress to the Midwest is usually high.
The bottom line... simply see which one works best for you.

Cypress Mulch

Cypress mulch comes from cypress trees grown in the swamp lands of Florida and southern Georgia. There are three basic types sold on the market today, Grade “A” All Bark and a “B+” grade, we call “Premium Cypress” and "B-" grade, we call "Utility Grade Cypress". All three are very different from each other, however each can compact and should occasionally be cultivated or "fluffed".

Grade “A” All Bark Cypress is just the bark from cypress trees. It is the “Cadillac” of mulches. It has a stringy texture which is great for sloped areas, it has a reddish brown color and looks great in any landscape. By nature it is resistant to decay, washing and blowing, repels insects and maintains its appearance for a long time. Occasionally turning and fluffing by hand will give it a newly applied appearance. It is more expensive but lasts a great deal longer because of its resistance to decay, therefore it is less likely to be need to be re-applied year after year. This is made from the part of the tree that was intended to be exposed to the elements.

Premium Cypress is the whole tree shredded, bark and all. This is the most widely used type of cypress mulch. It has a reddish tan color with a woody appearance and will fade to grey over time. Its light color will brighten a heavily shaded landscape and it does well in damp areas. It is also somewhat resistant to decay and repels insects. It doesn’t offer any nutritional value, its primary benefits are for decorative use, retarding weed growth, insulating the soil and holding moisture. While inexpensive in price, it most often is "top dressed" or reapplied every year.

Utility Grade Cypress is generally little or no bark, mostly heartwood. It starts with a reddish tan color and has a more woody/chunky appearance. It will fade more rapidly to grey than other mulches. This mulch is widely sold in Home centers, large chain stores, farm and feed stores and (in some areas) gas stations. It will resist some decay and will retard weed growth, insulate soil and help hold moisture. Generally this mulch will need to be re-applied each year, and sometimes each season.


Cedar Mulch

Cedar mulch is produced all over the United States and the raw material comes from the lumber industry. There are eastern, northern and western cedar mulches. Cedar has very similar characteristics to cypress. It’s resistant to decay and repels insects, however it looses its color much faster and will grey out faster than most mulches. It’s a good mulch to use for insulating the soil, controlling erosion, retarding weed growth and holding moisture, but it’s not going to break down as fast and provide nutrients to your soil like a pine or hardwood mulch.

Eastern Cedar mulch is similar to hardwood mulch in appearance. It is mostly bark with a dark brown color and a stringy appearance.
Western Red Cedar mulch is similar to cypress mulch but has more of a red color. As with cypress, there are two grades available. First, is a whole tree shredded product, which has a woody appearance. Second, is an all bark product similar to cypress Grade “A”, which has a stringy texture.
Northern Cedar mulch is stringy brown bark and tends to be very woody giving it a lighter appearance.

- The stringy "all-bark" cedar mulches are great for steep slopes and erosion control.

- Compaction will occur, we recommend occasionally aerating or cultivating your mulch.

Pine Mulch

Pine Bark Mulch is the bark only from pine trees. Most of the pine bark mulch available in the central to eastern United States, comes from southern grown pines and is a by-product of the paper and lumber industries. In the western United States you'll mainly find pine bark from Ponderosa pines which is a thicker and more colorful bark.

The bark is chopped up and screened producing the different types of mulch from Pine Bark mulch to large Pine Bark nuggets.

Pine bark is an excellent mulch to use. It doesn't compact like most mulches, it has a brown color and holds color longer than most mulches. Pine is also an excellent soil conditioner. It's great for loosening up heavy soils and because of its acidity, it promotes root growth and is great for your acid loving plants.