Types of Mulch

  Gravel is available in different sizes and colors
Photo credit: Leo Reynolds Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  Bark is a very popular mulch and comes in different sizes and colors
Photo credit: R23W Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Choosing the correct mulch material is important when planning a water wise landscape. Mulch can increase water retention in soil, however, using organic mulch with some very drought tolerant plants can cause too much moisture to be retained and potentially cause root rot.

There are many types of mulch readily available to homeowners and professionals.  Various types have different benefits and drawbacks.

Types of Mulch: Inorganic Mulches

  • Black plastic film
  • Geotextile weed barrier
  • Volcanic rock
  • Vermiculite
  • Weed-barrier fabrics
  • Crushed rock
  • Gravel
  • Perlite
  • Clay aggregates (heat treated)
  • Recycled rubber tires

Types of Mulch: Organic Mulch

  • Compost
  • Cottonseed hulls
  • Crushed corncobs
  • Hops
  • Leaves (composted)
  • Manure (strawy)
  • Peat Moss
  • Pecan hulls
  • Sawdust (coarse)
  • Shredded bark
  • Straw
  • Wood chips
  • Wood shinges (recycled)
  • Corn stalks
  • Cocoa-bean hulls
  • Lawn clippings
  • Leaves (fresh dried)
  • Newspaper
  • Rice hulls
  • Pine needles
  • Sawdust (fine)
  • Shredded bark, bark chips, chunk bark
  • Waste paper
  • Wood shavings

Additional Resources:

Types of Mulch: Organic Mulch
Types of Mulch: Inorganic Mulch


Colorado – Mulches for home Grounds
California – Mulch: A Gardener’s Best Friend


South Carolina – Mulch
Florida – Mulching Practices for South Florida
Alabama – Mulch Matters in Your Garden
Mississippi – Mulches for the Landscape
Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky – Using Mulches in Managed Landscapes
Missouri – Mulches