Different types of mulch to use in your garden | SA Garden and Home

Different types of mulch to use in your garden


Last updated on 16 July 2018

Mulches differ in appearance, texture and purpose and can be divided into two main groups: organic and inorganic. Take note of these different types of mulch for your garden. 

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Organic mulches are natural substances that come from plants or animals and will eventually break down creating a natural compost. Inorganic mulches also come from natural sources, but don’t decompose over time.

Mulch leaves - different types of mulch


COMPOST is a cost-effective choice if you have your own compost heap.

BARK CHIPS are readily available at most garden centres, but buying several bags can be relatively expensive.

GRASS CUTTINGS make a cost-free mulch and can be replenished each time you mow your lawn.

LEAVES are ideal for a natural, forest or indigenous garden. As they can easily be blown away, it’s best to shred them to create a more compact mulch.

NEWSPAPER is a cheap and easily available mulch. It can be shredded or laid down in sheets. Cover it lightly with soil and moisten it to prevent it from blowing away.

READ MORE: 5 Good reasons to mulch your garden


STONES, PEBBLES AND GRAVEL come in a variety of colours and textures, but it can be expensive to cover large areas.


  • Mulch in summer to keep the soil cool and in winter to protect against frost damage. In spring, remove mulch from areas where bulbs and perennials are planted to allow them to emerge from the soil. Then reapply once they have.
  • Don’t apply mulch where seeds have been sown until the plants are fully established.
  • Leave a space of about a hand’s width around tree trunks and plant stems for ventilation and to prevent rotting.
  • Avoid over mulching – a 10cm layer of mulch is sufficient.
  • Apply a thicker layer of mulch over sandy soils and less over clay soils.
  • Remember to top up organic mulches as they break down.


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