Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Welcome to our big bark mulch test 2021. Here we present all the bark mulches we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best bark mulch for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to when buying bark mulch.




Summary

  • Bark mulch is pure shredded tree bark.
  • It is mainly used to cover the soil.
  • Bark mulch inhibits the growth of undesirable weeds and keeps the soil moist for longer.
  • In the long run, bark mulch increases the fertility of the soil.

The Best Bark Mulch: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying bark mulch

Who is bark mulch suitable for?

Bark mulch is suitable for anyone who wants to inhibit the growth of unwanted weeds in their bed. The use of mulch is therefore very advantageous, for example, in corners of the garden where it is difficult for you to reach.

Bark mulch is good for ridding the bed of unwanted weeds and keeping the soil moist. (Image source: unsplash.com/Annie Spratt)

Another property of bark mulch is that the soil underneath it does not dry out so quickly and stays moist longer. In addition, microorganisms colonise the soil over time, which increases the fertility of the soil in the long term.

Besides the use of bark mulch in the garden, it is also useful in terrariums. There it is usually used untreated as a soil substrate.

How much bark mulch should I buy?

Before you calculate how much bark mulch you need, you should think about how high you want to cover the ground with bark mulch. The recommended height is about 7-8 cm so that the mulch has a good effect against weeds.

Once you know the height of your mulch, you can calculate how many square metres of bark mulch you will need.

The average is 10 litres per square metre at a height of 1 cm. In our example, at a height of 7 cm, it would be 70 litres per square metre and thus about 20 kilograms per square metre.

What does bark mulch cost?

There are considerable differences in the quality of bark mulch, some of which are reflected in the price. Accordingly, you should not only look at the price when buying bark mulch.

First of all, it should be noted that bark mulch is available in different grain sizes and colours. Most standard products usually come from native conifers such as spruce and pine. Higher-quality products use bark from pine, oak or other more valuable tree species.

Depending on the product variant, the prices can therefore vary greatly. The following list gives you a more detailed overview of the cost structure (prices per cubic metre):

  • Classic bark mulch, brown, fine grain size 0 to 20 mm: from 107.50 Euro per m³
  • Classic bark mulch, brown, medium grain size 0 to 40 mm: from 69.80 Euro per m³
  • Bark mulch with nitrogen addition, brown, medium grain size 0 to 40 mm: from 90.00 Euro per m³
  • Pine mulch, brown-natural, coarse grain 60 to 120 mm: from 150.00 Euro per m³
  • Bark mulch without tannic acid, red-brown, coarse grain 0 to 40 mm: from 64.00 Euro per m³
  • Rose mulch, brown, fine grain 0 to 20 mm: from 188.60 Euro per m³
  • Pine bark mulch, dark red to reddish brown, medium fine grain 15 to 30 mm: from 240.00 Euro per m³
  • Decorative mulch, nut brown, stone grey, golden yellow or brick red, grain size 10 to 40 mm: from 339.20 Euro per m³

What alternatives are there to bark mulch?

As an alternative to bark mulch, there are now many other products on the market. These usually have the same function without you having to spend more money.

The leaves you use instead of bark mulch should always come from a healthy tree and be as dry as possible. (Image source: unsplash.com/Gred Shield)

These alternatives are not difficult to find and some you can even make yourself. We have selected and presented 3 good alternatives to bark mulch:

Leaves

If you want to use leaves instead of classic bark mulch, you should make sure that the leaves come from a healthy tree. If the leaves come from a diseased tree, the risk of infection is high. This is a risk you do not want to take.

The same applies to foliage that comes from a tree that has been attacked by fungi. If you use foliage, make sure that it comes from a healthy tree and is as dry as possible.

The advantage of using leaves is that, compared to mulch, the leaves last much longer until they decompose and can therefore provide nutrients to the plant throughout the year.

Advantages
  • long shelf life
  • continuous nutrient release
  • inexpensive
Disadvantages
  • susceptible to diseases and fungi

Lavamulch

Lava mulch is another raw material that can also be used in a variety of ways. Because of the mulch's heat-storing properties, it makes sense to use it in sunny locations. The stored heat can thus be passed on to the plants.

At the same time, mulch has the property of reflecting the light at times of strong sunlight and protecting the plants from heat death. In winter, this property is also advantageous, as lava mulch is the ideal protection against the cold.

In addition to these numerous positive aspects, lava mulch is unfortunately not particularly rich in nutrients. It is therefore important that you still fertilise your plants adequately when using this specific mulch.

Advantages
  • heat-storing property
  • protective effect in extreme temperatures
Disadvantages
  • low in nutrients
  • additional fertilisation required

Compost

Compost is a classic alternative to bark mulch. While it is difficult to make your own bark mulch, compost is an excellent alternative. If you decide to use compost, make sure that it is relatively coarse, as the protective effect of the compost layer is much lower if it is too fine.

However, compost is not compatible with all plants. It should only be used for highly nutritious plants that need the fullness of nutrients and that do not overtax them.

You should also make sure that your compost is free of weeds, otherwise they can spread through the mulch. Compost is therefore an inexpensive alternative to bark mulch and is particularly suitable for strong growers.

Advantages
  • inexpensive
  • possibility to make it yourself
Disadvantages
  • can only be used for strong growers

Decision: What types of bark mulch are there and which is right for you?

In general, there are many different types of mulch. We have selected three conventional types and their properties:

What are the characteristics of pine bark and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Pine bark is a bark mulch that originates from the Mediterranean region. In contrast to conventional bark mulch, pine bark has the following advantages:

  • The bark decays more slowly
  • is richer in nutrients
  • contains only a small amount of pollutants

In terms of price, pine bark is in the same price segment as conventional bark mulch made from native conifers or may be slightly more expensive. It can be used in the same way as bark mulch. This means that it is also possible to mix the two raw materials together.

Advantages
  • slow decomposition, rich in nutrients, low amount of pollutants
Disadvantages
  • possibly somewhat more expensive, not a regional raw material

What are the characteristics of pine bark and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Pine is one of the most widespread tree species in Germany. Pine bark usually has a grain size of 10 - 20 mm and is an inexpensive alternative to pine bark, whereby the properties of the two types of bark do not differ greatly.

Compared to pine, the material of the pine usually rots a little faster, so that a one-time purchase is cheaper, but over several years it can become more expensive in comparison.

Advantages
  • regional tree species, inexpensive
Disadvantages
  • faster rotting process, more expensive in the long term

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate bark mulch

Before you buy bark mulch, you should be aware of what to look for. The most important criteria are:

  • Grain size
  • Material
  • Quantity

Grain size

Bark mulch is available in many different grain sizes. To make it easier for you to choose the right grain size for you, we have presented the usual grain sizes and their properties in the following table. In general, the smaller the area, the finer the grain size.

Mulch grain size Area of application
Fine grain size ideal for flower boxes, planters and plant pots
Medium grain size ideal for small flower beds and flower borders
Coarse grain size ideal for large areas such as parks, paths, ponds and between shrubs
Very coarse grain size ideal as fall protection, e.g. on playgrounds or climbing frames

Material

As already mentioned, there are many different materials for bark mulch. We have also summarised the most important materials and their properties in a table:

Mulch material Properties
Conventional bark mulch mixture of barks, suitable for all semi-shade and shade perennials as well as ferns and shade grasses
Bark compost more compatible for many plants as less nitrogen is bound, can be used to cover the soil as well as to loosen the soil
Pine bark very attractive due to its reddish-brown colour, slow decomposition, good nutrient supplier

Quantity

The amount of bark mulch you can buy varies greatly. The usual offers range from 20 to 70 litres. The 70l packages are often offered as a package with e.g. 36 bags, so that they reach a total quantity of e.g. 2520 litres.

So it makes sense to know what bark mulch you need before you buy a huge amount of raw material. Our section "How much bark mulch should I buy?" can be a little help here.

Trivia: Interesting facts about bark mulch

How does bark mulch work?

The use of bark mulch has many advantages. Firstly, a layer of mulch protects the soil from the weather, as it has a temperature-balancing and moisture-regulating effect. Especially in extreme temperatures in summer as well as in winter, the soil can become excessively hot or cold.

At very high temperatures in summer, evaporation of soil water can cause dry cracks in the soil. In this case, water can then be absorbed less easily by the soil and largely runs off superficially. Frost also impedes the effect of water absorption.

On the other hand, the use of mulch has the advantage that its decomposition over time enriches the soil with humus. The nutrient diversity also provides a habitat for many micro-organisms, which additionally loosen the soil.

How do I spread my bark mulch correctly?

Depending on the use of the bark mulch, it should be laid out differently in order to fulfil its purpose. If you want to spread bark mulch in a flower bed or, for example, under shrubs or trees, the layer should not be higher than 5 centimetres.

To distribute it evenly, it makes sense to use a hand rake. Even if you use a nutrient-rich bark mulch, it makes sense to fertilise the soil from time to time. It is also advisable to fertilise before laying bark mulch.

If you want to create a garden path from bark mulch, things are a little different. The aim is usually for the material to be particularly soft and to have a natural appearance. In this case, you should create a layer of at least 10 centimetres. In addition, it often makes sense to lay some glass fleece on the garden path beforehand.

Image source: Pixabay.com / Rkit

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