You need mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also kills weeds by suffocating them and stopping them from growing. Landscapers and garden centers such as Home Depot sell bulk mulch in bags.
So you might be wondering how many bags of mulch in a yard you need, right?
A bag of mulch is 2 cubic feet and mulch sells by the cubic yard.
From my math’s class, 1 yard equals 27 cubic feet. This means that for us to know the bags of mulch you need, we should divide 27 cubic feet by 2 cubic feet which gives 13.5 bags of mulch.
So we can conclusively say one yard will require 13.5 bags of mulch.
You can have the mulch delivered to your home or pick it up from the landscaping centers if you have access to a truck or trailer.
What you will learn
Bagged vs Bulk mulch
Although a little bit more expensive, bagged mulch is easy to handle, especially if you don’t have a place for a pile of bulk mulch.
If you have access to a truck or trailer, you only need to go to the landscaping centers and put the mulch in bags. If you need many bags, you may need to hire another hand.
You may also have to make a few trips to the centers depending on the size of your vehicle and yard.
Bulk mulch is often delivered loose (not in a bag) and the delivering company dumps it in a pile, often on your driveway. You have to use a wheelbarrow to move it to the desired location.
Compared to bagged mulch, this mulch is much more demanding and labor-intensive.
Types of mulch
There are many types of mulch you can buy from the local gardening or landscaping centers. These types include:
Brown mulch: It’s often dyed to give it a natural appearance. Many landscapers use it near water features and flower beds.
Economy mulch: Used for large lawns to create pathways, economy mulch is made from aged tree chips which make an excellent choice when looking for mulch to use in your garden.
Red mulch: Its color makes it a must-have when looking to have an outstanding yard. You place it in the play areas and pathways.
If looking for mulch to place around plants, go for gold, black, or the more expensive red cedar mulch.
How much does a yard of mulch cost?
The price varies depending on the quality of mulch and whether you pick it up from the landscaping centers or have it delivered. Using red mulch as an example:
Bagged mulch (1 Yard):
Since you pick it up with your truck from your local landscaping center, there are no delivery charges. At home Depot, Red Mulch goes for $3.75 per 2 cubic feet bag. So the cost of one yard of bagged mulch is going to be:
13.5 bags (1 yard) X $3.75 = $50.63
Bulk delivered mulch (1 yard):
Loose (not bagged) red mulch in our local landscaping store costs $30.75 per yard and a delivery fee of $25.00. The total cost of delivered mulch amounts to:
$30.75 (for one cubic yard of red mulch) + $25.00 delivery fee = $55.75
While the bagged mulch is expensive for the mulch itself, it’s cheaper than bulk mulch when it comes to delivery and convenience.
How much do 5 yards of mulch cost?
If you have a 5-yard garden and wondering the amount of mulch you need, you only need to multiply the amount you need for one yard by five (size of your yard).
Using the above example of red mulch, you will need:
Bagged mulch (5 Yards):
13.5 bags/yard X 5 yards = 67.5 bags of mulch
We then multiply the number of bags by the cost of mulch per bag
67.5 bags X $3.75 per bag of mulch = $253.12 (total cost)
So we can conclude that the total cost of bagged mulch in a 5 yard is $253.13
Let us now look at what it will cost you when you go with delivered mulch.
Bulk delivered mulch (5 yards)
Here we are going to multiply the cost of red mulch per yard by five (the size of your yard).
$30.75 per yard X 5 yards = $153.75
Then we add the delivery cost to find the total cost
$153.75 mulch cost + $25.00 delivery fee = $178.75 total cost
From the above calculation, you can tell that it’s cheaper to buy the bulk mulch as you will save $74.38.
Remember, while you will save some money, you will still have to shovel and carry the mulch to your desired location.
What should you consider when buying mulch?
For you to buy the right mulch for your garden, you need to consider several factors that include:
Other than straw mulch all the other mulches are by-products of lumber. While this is the case, for you to get the most from it, ensure you get it from reputable landscaping centers or home improvement stores.
Although, you don’t have to buy expensive mulch, avoid cheap mulch sold at gas stations as it tends to contain shredded construction debris and other toxic chemicals, lead paint, and metals.
You also should avoid cypress mulch. Although it’s widely popular and sold in plenty of reputable stores, it comes from clear-cutting virgin trees in southern wetlands.
Why are you buying the mulch in the first place? Mulch comes in different textures that are ideal for various applications. If planning to place the mulch in vegetable beds, use fluffy mulch or one that decomposes easily such as straw.
If looking to put the mulch around trees and large fruit trees, go with mulch with a coarse texture. Most garden owners don’t know the right mulch to go with.
If this is you, go with medium-textured mulch such as shredded hardwood that is known to work in most places.
Bagged or bulk?
As mentioned above, you can buy the mulch either as bagged or as bulk delivered. There are pros and cons to each type.
Since bagged mulch comes in a bag, you can easily drop it off at different spots in your yard. You can also store it undercover to keep it dry. The mulch also comes in different types for you to choose from.
While this is the case, it tends to be more expensive per cubic foot. After using the mulch, you end up with a lot of plastic bags that end up in the landfill.
Bulk delivered mulch is less expensive per cubic foot, and you don’t end up with plastic bags once you have applied the mulch.
Unfortunately, the delivery company dumps it in one pile that is not only an eyesore, but also causes plenty of inconveniences as you have to shovel it and carry it with a wheelbarrow to the target area.
If you are a member of a homeowners association, you might have to contend with regulations on the type of mulch to use and the delivery options to go with.
It’s up to you to weigh your options and choose the best type.
As we have seen, you need 13.5 bags of mulch in a yard. To save some money, look around at what different stores are selling their mulch at.
Landscaping stores offer discounts during certain holidays such as Memorial Day so if looking to save a few dollars, visit your local stores and take advantage of the offers.
Looking to get mulch for free? You can do it by collecting fallen leaves that make excellent mulch for flower and perennial beds. Remember to shred the leaves using an electric blower-vacuum with a shredder.
If you want to mulch trees and shrubs, ask your neighbors to dump a free load of wood chips (from tree trimming) in your yard.
Don’t use recently-shredded wood chips in vegetable and flower beds as they are too chunky and as the chips start decomposing, they begin competing with plants for nutrients.