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What Is Bark Mulch – Benefits, Usage, Disadvantages, and More!

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Do you want to know what is bark mulch? And its benefits? We’ll spill all the beans here! Bark Mulch is essential for your yard as it helps suppress weeds, enhances the garden’s look, and improves soil texture.

As a gardener, genuinely taking care of the plants in their growth process is vital. So in this article, we’ll be sharing the importance of bark mulch and its benefits to help you understand better.

What Is Bark Mulch?

Bark mulch is a biodegradable material added to the soil or around plants to improve soil fertility and retain soil moisture, reducing weeds’ growth and preventing soil erosion.

It is made from tree bark and comes in various forms, like shredded barks or chunks, and you can evenly spread an inch or two on the ground.

For more effective results, it is often used during late spring or early summer when the soil temperature increases but has high moisture.

What Is Bark Mulch

Benefits of Bark Mulch

There are many types of mulches available, but bark mulch made from tree bark is one of the most valuable materials. Some of its benefits are:

  • It helps retain soil moisture.
  • It improves the soil’s fertility.
  • It helps suppress the growth of weeds.
  • It protects the plants from unfavorable weather conditions.
  • It keeps the ground cool and provides nutrients.
  • It’s long-lasting.
  • It creates a favorable environment for soil microorganisms.
  • It makes the yard or garden look more attractive with a decorative finish.
  • Its decomposition is slower compared to wood chips.

Adding mulch to your garden comes with various advantages. During summer, the scorching heat tends to dry and harden the soil. So, in that case, mulch protects the soil from dehydration, keeping the plants healthy and happy.

Also, in summer, it helps the soil to retain moisture which means you won’t have to water it often.

Is Bark Mulch long-lasting?

Bark Mulch is made from organic plants, i.e., tree bark, so it’s biodegradable. However, it can last for a long time of about 7 to ten years if appropriately taken care of.

By saying this, it should be watered regularly to keep the bark healthy and to slow down its degradation.

Once it decomposes, ensure that it has entirely disintegrated before adding a new layer. A new layer of bark mulch shouldn’t be mixed with the old coating and hence, even if some chunks are left, extract them before adding a new layer.

Mulch can be of two types: biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Though made from different materials, both prevent the weed from growing and help block the sunlight needed for the seeds to germinate.

Biodegradable: Biodegradable mulch decomposes with time by providing essential nutrients to the soil and is replaced after it has wholly disintegrated.

Biodegradable mulch can be bark, grass clippings, wood chippings, seaweed, manure, sawdust, straw, etc.

Non-Biodegradable: Non-biodegradable mulch doesn’t aid in providing nutrients to the soil but helps the ground preserve moisture. One positive advantage is that it looks decorative.

Non-Biodegradable mulches can be black plastic, gravel, chippings, landscape fabric, slate, etc.

How to Use Mulch?

As mentioned before, mulches are used best during late spring, and early summer as the ground is warm and moist during this season. However, there are two things to follow before layering mulch over the soil.

  • The first thing is to remove weeds from the soil and keep it clean.
  • Secondly, ensure that the soil is moist, and if it’s dry, you can water it first before layering with a mulch.

Once you’re done with the inspection, apply a thick layer of mulch to prevent the weeds from coming up.

By adding a thick layer of four-inch mulch, it can prevent the weeds from growing. Usually, a two-inch layer of mulch canalso pretty much do the task.

However, if your yard or garden is filled with weeds, then to tackle this issue, you can opt for the double-mulching method.

To do this, you first need to layer the ground with newspapers and then add mulch over the top. This method works great, but it can prevent the soil from reaping its nutritional benefits.

However, if you want the soil to absorb the nutrients, then you can skip this method.

You should avoid keeping a wet mulch over stems, trees, or shrubs as it can quickly rot them. After mulching the soil, you’ll have to water the plants more often so that it can keep the soil moist.

Tip: When layering mulch, use the appropriate amount and don’t overdo it. A layer of 2 to 3 inches works perfectly fine. If you overlayer the soil, oxygen cannot penetrate the ground, which can damage the plants.

Disadvantages of Bark Mulch

Though bark mulch has various benefits and is long-lasting, just like every other product, it also has its disadvantages. So, it would be best to consider it before you decide to layer a bark mulch over your garden.

Bark mulch can rob nitrogen off the soil as it decomposes with time. Hence, it’s recommended to use nitrogen fertilizer or any fertilizers if you prefer to use bark mulch.

Or another alternative for bark mulch is bark humus (bark compost), as it’s known to provide healthy nutrients beneficial for the soil.

Bark mulch, if applied thickly around plants, will reduce the soil oxygen and can cause damage. So if you’re using small chips, apply a layer of 1 to 2 inches, and if you’re using larger chips, a layer of 2 to 4 inches works best.

In addition, bark mulch is not suitable for all plants, especially for strawberries and raspberries. It’s because bark mulch releases tannins which cause sensitivity to vegetables.


If you prefer to keep your garden healthy, investing in bark mulch or mulches is a wise decision as it protects the soil and keeps the plants healthy while keeping weeds and pests at bay.

Do you use bark mulch? What’s your take on it? Or, if you have any questions regarding bark mulch, you can write them below. We’re happy to help.