Cedar Vs Cypress Mulch: How Do They Differ?

Mulching is a process of applying a thin layer of mulches on top of the soil, which is considered beneficial for the soil’s conservation, fertility improvement, and plant health. 

Among a wide range of effective mulches, cedar and cypress mulch are favorable options for dressings for the garden soils. However, some garden enthusiasts often struggle to tell the difference between these mulches.

Therefore, this article will offer a comprehensive comparison between cedar vs cypress so that you’re able to recognize each kind. Also, delve deeper into the post to find some golden tips to choose suitable mulch for your landscape.

Overview Of Cedar And Cypress Mulch

What is cedar mulch?

Cedar mulch is naturally made from the bark or inner wood (heartwood) of the cedar tree. This majestic evergreen tree derived originally from the mountains of the western Himalayas and the Mediterranean region and belongs to the family Pinaceae.

In mulch form, cedar is available either in chips or shreds. Chips are often heavier and create a thick layer, while shreds are lighter and provide more excellent airflow. Hence, cedar chips are often applied in smaller plants such as annuals and perennials, whereas cedar shreds work best in larger plants such as bushes and trees.

Red Cedar Mulch Cedar Vs Cypress Mulch
Red Cedar Mulch via Wikimedia

Cedar mulch is highly favored over regular mulch because it often lasts longer than some organic mulches such as straw and sawdust and performs effectively in gardens and landscapes.

What is cypress mulch?

Cypress mulch is generally made from the shredded wood of bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) or pond cypress trees (Taxodium ascendens). Both species are deciduous coniferous trees and thrive in moist environments.

Similar to cedar, cypress mulch also comes with cypress chips and shredded cypress. However, the shredded form is typically a greater choice than the chipped form since the shreds often remain in that state of condition and compose more rapidly.  

Cypress Mulch Cedar Vs Cypress Mulch
Cypress Mulch via Reddit

4 Key Differences Between Cedar Mulch Vs Cypress Mulch

1. Appearance and scent

Cedar mulch has a distinctive color that derives from natural sources and often contrasts charmingly with green foliages. The color can vary, but it tends to look golden brown, reddish, or orange hue, which creates a beautiful complement to the garden or landscape. On the contrary, cypress mulch has an appealing natural wood color but weathers to silver-gray color as it ages.

When it comes to aroma, cypress mulch often has a noticeable, pleasant aroma when it’s fresh. However, it tends not to retain the attractive color and smell once the mulch is in use. Meanwhile, although cedar mulch has a pleasant scent to most people, its aromatic resins in cedar mulch may also irritate those who have allergies. But its smell will often disappear within a month. 

2. Insects resistance

In terms of insect prevention, cedar mulch exudes aromatic oils and a strong odor that repels insects effectively. Therefore, it’s best to be used around the plant’s base when having insect issues in the garden. For example, when the termite population arises, cedar mulch can help to reduce the problem. However, one downside of this is that it may also deter beneficial insects for plants such as bees and other pollinators. 

On the other hand, cypress mulch is often known to be attractive to termites. Furthermore, while cypress mulch comes from an old, mature growth of cypress trees containing oils and chemicals such as thujone that deter insects, unfortunately, most of them have already been cut down. Hence, cypress mulch that is used today is no longer resistant to fungus and insects.

Termites Cedar Vs Cypress Mulch
Termites via Pixabay

3. Stability

Noteworthy, due to the lengthy period needed to decompose, cedar mulch doesn’t require replenishment frequently. Hence, it brings about incredible long-lasting effects to garden beds without much maintenance. Moreover, ​​thanks to its distinctive chemical components, cedar mulch has a remarkable ability to preserve its color and shape for a long time. 

On the flip side, sadly, despite the thick fibrous texture and weight, cypress is more likely to be carried away during heavy wind, rainfall, or flooding. When it is saturated with water, it becomes denser and harder to dislodge. But the fact that it’s easily washed away means that it may need replacement more frequently than cedar mulch. Besides, it tends not to retain the attractive color and smell once the mulch is in use.

4. Sustainability

Thanks to the availability of cedar trees, cedar mulch is not regarded as a threat to the environment. In contrast, cypress mulch has long been discouraged for its detrimental environmental impact resulting from the harvesting process of cypress trees. 

To be more specific, cypress trees have been exposed to excessive clearings more quickly than they can grow due to the increasing demand for cypress mulch. However, these coniferous trees often take decades to regrow because they are challenging to grow from seed. These unsustainable actions may lead to the destruction of the vast majority of old-growth cypress species. Consequently, many areas in Florida and Louisiana have prohibited the use of cypress mulch.

Cypress Tree Forest Cedar Vs Cypress Mulch
Cypress Tree Forest via publicdomainpictures

Cedar Vs Cypress Mulch: Which Suits You?

Cedar is often viewed as the top pick when it comes to mulch selection due to its superior qualities and features. Furthermore, it’s more environmentally friendly than its cypress counterpart and serves as an effective deterrent to insects, especially termites.

However, both cedar and cypress mulch can be applied effectively around trees and flower beds. Hence, it is your preference or needs to select the right mulch for your landscape. Before making a purchasing decision, let’s look at some highlights regarding the benefits and drawbacks of both types of mulch.

Rose and Cedar Mulch Cedar Vs Cypress Mulch
Rose and Cedar Mulch via Wikimedia

Note that cedar mulch is more preferred than cypress mulch because of its eco-friendly feature. Meanwhile, cypress mulch is discouraged because its demanding industry has threatened old-growth forests, mainly in Louisiana.

1. Cypress Mulch

Advantages:

  • The most significant benefit of cypress mulch is that it is a perfect weed control when applied as a 3-inch layer around plants. It also blocks any airborne seeds from reaching out to the soil to sprout.
  • It is effective at preventing moisture in the soil from evaporation, encouraging the growth of plants.
  • When cypress mulch decomposes, it boosts compost to the soil, contributing abundant nutrients for the soil.
  • Cypress mulch is neutral, thus it does not alter the soil’s pH level when it decomposes.
  • It keeps the garden a neat, standout look, adding an aromatic and appealing appearance to the garden.
  • Cypress mulch is typically more affordable than many other organic mulches.

Disadvantages:

  • Cypress mulch often breaks down over time and may need replacement frequently, which is costly to many gardeners.
  • It has a tendency to repel water and not absorb it, resulting in water draining off instead of seeping into the roots of the plants.
  • This type of mulch tends to absorb nitrogen from the soil, negatively affecting various plants, including corn, lettuce, etc.
  • The harvesting process of cypress trees for mulch has put several valuable wetlands in Louisiana at risk.

2. Cedar Mulch

Advantages 

  • Cedar mulch has an excellent ability to retain soil moisture and maintain steady soil temperature, which further aids in moisture evaporation.
  • It is a perfect weed inhibitor by keeping seeds from reaching the soil.
  • Cedar mulch acts as an active pest control method due to its natural oils and unique aroma.
  • It adds a visually polished, appealing look to different plants in a landscape.
  • The mulch tends to be long-lasting, which means less re-application is required.
  • It boosts fresh and healthy soil by encouraging earthworms to occupy the soil.

Disadvantages

  • The mulch may repel beneficial insects to the garden.
  • The aromatic resins in cedar mulch can be a problem for those who have extreme allergies. 
  • Due to its superb qualities, cedar mulch often holds a higher price tag than cypress, especially when covering a substantial area. 
  • It creates a potential fire risk if cedar mulch is close to an outdoor structure like a shed.

Bonus tip

To further facilitate you in the gardening experience, here are a few tips you can apply to choose ideal mulch for landscaping:

  • Consider picking organic mulch for covering and enriching the soil at the same time. However, organic types require to be replaced periodically, usually every 2 to 3 years.
  • Consider appearance as it is a dominant feature as function. There is no doubt that placing the mulches at the wrong location often makes them look unattractive. Therefore, remember to pay attention to the beautiful color contrast between foliage of bedding plants, flowers, and mulches to complement homes and gardens.
  • If you’re dealing with weed growth, a 2-inch-deep mulch of effective weed inhibitors will work.

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 The Bottom Line

Hopefully, this article has provided sufficient information so that you’ll be able to distinguish between cedar vs cypress mulch. 

Both mulches have advantages and disadvantages, so consider your requirements and budget for suitable and beneficial top dressing for garden soil. Then, you’re ready to mulch your garden beds and enjoy a prosperous and divine result ahead.

Thanks for reading! If you have any concerns, please leave us a message or thoughts in the comment section below.

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