How to Pick the Right Color Mulch

Renee Valdes
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Make Your Garden Better with Mulch | The Home Depot's Garden Club

In your garden, mulch makes all the difference. With a variety of options available, it can be difficult to choose, especially the color.

That’s why you might consider mulch like jewelry for your yard.

“In some cases, people want the color of mulch to blend in and not contrast or take away from plants, blooms or the exterior of your home,” says Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design with The Home Depot. “On the other hand, [mulch] can accentuate and highlight.”

Here’s how to pick the right color mulch. We’ll also break down the most popular types of mulch, and why you may want to consider one over another, especially if you’re matching it to your outdoor space and the color of your home. 

How to Pick the Right Color Mulch:


Mulch | The Home Depot's Garden Club

There are three basic colors for mulch: black, brown and red.  

If you plant dark foliage or dark green colors, almost any mulch color works.

As a general rule of thumb for flowers, pick a mulch color that does not work against the color of your blooms. For example, white flowers look beautiful with red mulch. However, you can’t go wrong with black and brown mulch because these colors make flowers stand out in your outdoor space.

More ideas for matching your mulch:

  • Black. When you use black mulch around green foliage, such as potato vines, it really pops. For gray and contemporary homes, use black mulch.
  • Brown. For red brick homes, try brown mulch
  • Red. If you use more terra cottas, golds and warm tones in your outdoor space, red mulch is the right one for you.

How to Pick the Right Color Mulch at The Home Depot Garden Club

Learn about the Types of Mulch:

  • Shredded bark. This mulch is made from woods such as cedar and pine and has a medium consistency. Shredded bark mulch interlocks to avoid washing away and is ideal for gardens on a slope. Plus, it decomposes into the soil, enriching your garden’s health over time.
  • Pine straw. Available only in the South, pine straw needles hold in place well and are relatively slow to break down, making them ideal for slopes. Use this popular mulch in the South with acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, conifers and blueberries.  
  • Bark nuggets. Choose bark nuggets for flat gardens where mulch is less likely to wash away. Its chunky consistency and size doesn’t break down as quickly as shredded bark or pine mulch, making reapplication less frequent, a savings to you.
  • Leaves or grass clippings. Make free mulch by using shredded leaves or grass clippings. Don’t use chemically treated grass clippings, especially with edibles.
  • Landscape rocks. Landscape rocks such as pea pebbles, river rocks and marble chips do not break down, so rocks need not be reapplied annually, except an occasional refresh. These look great in arid areas or as an edging in the garden. However, rocks add no nutritional value and these can be difficult to remove if you change your mind.
  • Rubber mulch. For areas where children play, rubber mulch is the perfect choice for safety. Made primarily from recycled tires, it doesn’t break down but it does provide a soft cushion for those inevitable falls. Rubber mulch is also a sturdy, sustainable alternative for your garden. This mulch maintains its color and doesn’t decompose, making garden maintenance a breeze.

Every garden needs a 3-inch layer of mulch. If you’re creating a new garden bed, apply weed preventer, then use landscape fabric, top with garden soil and then mulch.

Once you choose the color, you’ll want to know more about how much you’ll need. The Home Depot’s Mulch Calculator makes the work of figuring out how much to buy a snap.

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