Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Mulches

For almost every gardener, mulch is one of the best weapons. Applying mulch over the soil once clearing out weeds of a garden or finishing a new landscaping project has a lot of advantages. This includes a unified look to the landscape, tidy appearance, reduces evaporation, and suppresses weeds. In addition to that, a lot of mulches also enhance soil fertility and structure.  

Whenever you ask a Lawn Service San Antonio for mulches, you will be given a lot of options. Today, we are going to help you by breaking down the advantages and disadvantages of different mulches.  

Gravel and Rock 

  • Advantages – Lasts long and does not break down. 
  • Disadvantages – Lasts long. It does not enhance the soil. Hard to plant in or remove. 

Cocoa Hulls 

  • Advantages – Smells great (chocolate). Not prone to fading. Attractive color and fine texture. 
  • Disadvantages – Expensive. Might develop mold in hot humid areas. Toxic to pets. Blown by wind easily. 

Pine Bark Nuggets 

  • Advantages – Lasts long (larger nuggets last longer). Appealing. Excellent weed suppressor. 
  • Disadvantages – Prone to washing away in heavy rain or tumbling down slopes. 

Wood Chips 

  • Advantages – Sometimes offered free from utility firms or local tree service companies. 
  • Disadvantages – Fresh chips can deplete nitrogen. Might contain species toxic to humans (poison ivy) or plants (black walnut). It might be acidic. 

Shredded Bark 

  • Advantages – Cheap. Available widely. Often a sustainable use of byproducts from wood companies. Stays put on slopes. Slowly breaks down relatively.  
  • Disadvantages – As it decomposes, it can deplete nitrogen content from the soil. 


  • Advantages – Cheap if you make it your own. Rapidly improves the soil. Dark color beautifully sets off plants.  
  • Disadvantages – Extremely short-term weed suppressor. Quickly breaks down. 


  • Advantages – Lasts longer compared to grass clippings or leaves. Excellent coverage. Appealing color. 
  • Disadvantages – Prone to weed seeds. It can cause more serious issues than it solves.  

Pine Needles 

  • Advantages – Improves acidity that benefits a couple of plants (azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and a couple forms of conifers). Slow to break down. Excellent on slopes. Stay well in place. Excellent weed suppressor. Free. 
  • Disadvantages – Soil acidification. Prickly to work with. 

Grass Clippings 

  • Advantages – Adds nitrogen to the soil. Free. 
  • Disadvantages – Do not utilize clippings from a chemically treated yard. This is particularly true in vegetables. Quickly breaks down. Should be dried before using to avoid rot and matting. 

Fallen Leaves 

  • Advantages – Free. Shred them using a weed eater or a power mower. You can also allow them to dry until they are crumbly. In addition to that, you can pile them and allow them to decompose for 12 months or more before you apply them. 
  • Disadvantages – They will rot and mat if they are not shredded and if they are damp. They are prone to blowing away if they are extremely dry and light. A couple of leaves, such as black walnut, provide toxins and have negative effects on a couple of plants.  

These are some of the advantages and disadvantages of various types of mulches. If you don’t know which type of best for your lawn, you can always contact an arborist for help.