12 Best Types of Mulch for Your Garden

Breaking It All Down:

Mulch is a highly underrated ground cover in the garden but one of the most important. It helps regulate soil temperature, improve soil health, suppress weeds, retain moisture, and protect plant roots from damaging winter weather.

But of all the different types of landscape mulch out there, what works the best? What should you use in a vegetable garden? Or around your trees?

Here, I break down the top 12 organic mulches you should know about.



I know compost is usually used as a soil amendment, but if you have some left over, think about it: it’s free, it has loads of nutrients, and it’s full of beneficial microorganisms, worms, and other natural decomposers.

Leaf litter


Chop them up (with a string trimmer) or shred them into little pieces (with a lawn mower) and scatter them over the soil. If your leaves are on the small side (like those from aspen trees), you can even leave them whole.

Mushroom compost


A by-product of mushroom farming that’s sold to the public in some places, mushroom compost makes for great mulch. It’s high in calcium and other nutrients, improves water retention, and attracts earthworms.



When sourcing straw or hay to use in your garden, be sure to ask the supplier if it’s unsprayed. Pesticide residues in treated grasses can wreak havoc on the soil by stunting the growth of your plants.

Shredded bark


This is a good choice if you want a very durable mulch that holds its shape and won’t blow away. I especially like shredded bark for defining pathways and mulching sloped areas. It’s ideal if you live in a rainy, windy, or hilly region.

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