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The Whats and Hows of Mulch

You only have to take a walk around your neighborhood or through a local park to see a variety of mulches in different colors and different materials. What are they made of? How are they made? What are the differences between various mulch varieties? We’re here to answer some of these questions for you.

What is Mulch Made of?

Mulch is most often made up of shredded woods like pine, cypress, or cedar, but mulch can be made from any wood. Materials like pine straw, pine bark, sawdust, cocoa bean shells, or rubber pieces can serve as alternatives to wood mulches as well. The objective of mulch is to prevent weed growth and retain soil moisture.

How is mulch made?

Sawmills or lumber mills produce traditional shredded mulch by grinding trees and wood pieces that are small enough to matte together and spread easily.

  1. First, the tree is debarked. Shredded mulch is made from the meat of the tree: the wood underneath the bark.
  2. Next, a grinder (tub or horizontal) is used to quickly shred the wood into small pieces which are then hammered and flattened.
  3. Wood is then screened for a certain size, depending on how large the mill wants the mulch pieces to be. The mulch that makes the cut moves along in the process, and the pieces that are too big go back in the grinder.
  4. Finally, after it is properly sized, some mulches are dyed to a desired color. Red and brown are popular mulch colors for landscapes.

Common Varieties of Mulch

As mentioned above, pine and cypress are two of the wood varieties that mulches are most commonly made from.

What is pine mulch?

Pine mulches are lighter weight than hardwood mulches because pine is a “softwood” and is less dense. Underneath the bark, pine is a very light color and can be easily dyed to a desired hue to give your landscape a more aesthetically pleasing look. (See the four color options for our dyed pine mulch here.)

Adding a deep, earthy red hue to your garden during fall is a great way to spruce up your house’s curb appeal or to just get in the spirit of the season. Or if you prefer, using a dark brown pine mulch can make brightly colored flowers really pop!

What is hardwood mulch?

Hardwood mulches, often made from cypress wood, are given that name because they are denser and heavier. Their durability causes them to decompose slower which makes them last longer in your garden. Cypress mulch is also naturally resistant to bugs and insects!

If you do not want to use mulch that has been dyed in your garden, undyed mulches usually are a natural light golden color, but the exact hue of an undyed mulch will depend on the type of wood that was shredded.

What is pine bark mulch?

Pine bark mulch is just what it sounds like. When sawmills or lumber mills debark trees to cut lumber or to shred the wood into mulch, that bark can then be ground and used for mulch as well. Pine bark gives gardens a more textured look and performs just as a traditional mulch would. It’s a great choice to spread around and beneath bushes and shrubs around your home!

Quality Made Mulch Products from Griffis

At Griffis, we grind our mulches locally at our sawmill. The very sawmill started in 1955 by James and Rachel Griffis to sell lumber now provides mulch products of all kinds, as well as soil! Griffis is your source for premium mulch products.

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