Why Cedar Mulch is The Best Option For Your Gardens

Cedar Mulch
Cedar Mulch laid in home garden

Mulch is a by-product of the wood industry, and is made from clipping and shaving the bark of trees. It is meant to cover the ground of flowerbeds and pots. Different wood mulch from various trees have different properties, and they all have their own specific purposes.

Cedar Mulch is as common as cedar trees but is not commonly spotted as mulches don’t tower above us like cedar trees. Instead mulch is used to cover the ground around a plant. They cover the soil and allow it to retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and keep weeds in check.

Cedar mulch, in particular, has an excellent insect-repellent smell which makes it perfect for some while counter-productive for other types of soil. It is often classified as a fibrous aromatic mulch.

To understand more about cedar mulch, we first need to know what mulch is and why is it so important in gardening. From there we will make our way toward cedar mulch and its importance. So, let’s get into some details.

Importance Of Covering The Soil With Mulch

The reason why the use of mulch is growing around the world is its protective properties. Nature tries to cover the soil with grass, musk, or even algae to protect the soil from the agents of erosion. Sometimes, however, even this is not enough in harsh conditions.

Areas with heavy rainfall, wind, or dry conditions render the soil unhealthy depriving it of its strength and nutrients. This makes covering the soil necessary to protect its vitality and to keep it healthy for the plants and trees to grow in it.

Benefits Of Mulch For Your Garden

Red Cedar Mulch
Heap of Red Cedar Mulch ready to be used

As Such covering the grounds of your gardens with mulch is often a good idea. There are numerous benefits that your vegetable gardens and flower bed will enjoy. Besides, when considering mulch there is a variety of options. You could go for the prized red cedar mulch or any other which has unique properties handy for your particular desire.

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Keeps The Soil Moist

Fungus-Growing in Moist Cedar Mulch
Even the fungus grows well in the moist layer of cedar mulch

Mulch prevents evaporation on the soil surface which helps the soil to stay moist for a longer period of time. This method of moisture retention is especially helpful in hot and dry countries.

Temperature Control

The heat from the sunlight is passed through the mulch to the soil and then is trapped inside by the greenhouse effect. Mulch creates a barrier that doesn’t let the heat dissipate into the atmosphere keeping the roots of the plants warm.

This is why winter mulching is also a common practice to protect plants that can’t tolerate low temperatures.

Prevent The Growth Of Weeds

Grasses and weeds require light to grow and can’t survive in dark. The barrier mulch creates prevents the light to pass through keeping the soil beneath in dark. This prevents unwanted weed growth.

Preserving The Nutrients Of Soil

Tulip growing in mulch
The mulch provides a suitable environment for tulips to grow into a flower bed

Wind and rainfall often remove the organic material and nutrients from the top layer of the soil. Microorganisms that decompose on the top layer of the soil to add to the organic material need protection, which is provided by the mulch barrier.

Pest Control

Some mulches have special properties such as being a natural bug repellent from the soil. This protects the plants from unwanted damage that occurs due to these pests. Cedar mulch is one such type that has a natural insect repellent effect.

Decorative Mulch

Cedar-Mulch-Decorated with Sea Shells
Cedar Mulch used decoratively alongside sea shells

Some mulches are there just to add beauty to the soil. Mulches are often dyed in preferred colors for this purpose. They can often be the artistic touch missing in your garden.

Interactive And Non-Interactive Mulch

Almost anything can be used to cover the soil to protect it. Some materials serve as interactive Mulch while others are non-interactive such as stones, gravel, blankets, cardboard, etc. Non-interactive mulch can’t alter the composition or condition of the soil.

Barks of trees are partly inert as they partly interact with the soil depending on the properties of the mulch itself. Fresh mulch when starts to decompose absorbs nitrogen from the soil and later it may also provide nutrients to the soil.

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Mulch can also alter the pH of the soil. Green Pine needles, if used as mulch are believed to turn the soil acidic. Fresh Cedar mulch can also have the same effect however, the alteration to the soil will be negligible if the cedar mulch is even one year old.

Pros And Cons Of Cedar Mulch

Cedar Mulch
Ground covered to protect the soil with cedar mulch

Each type of mulch brings distinctive characteristics with it, which can completely change your garden. It is important to choose a suitable mulch for your garden as it stays on the soil for a long period of time.

The pros and cons of cedar mulch are quite noticeable as well which makes it a perfect choice for some but not so great for others.

Pros Of Cedar Mulch

The qualities that can make cedar mulch a fine choice for your gardens are listed below

It Lasts Long

Compared to some other organic and bark mulches like straw and pine (respectively), cedar mulch lasts longer, up to several years. The deterioration rate of cedar mulch is slow which results in its long life.

It’s An Insect Repellant

Pile of cedar mulch ready to lay
Mulch by Joe Hoover is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Cedar Mulch has a smell that pests hate and so they don’t bother coming near the plants. This is one of the reasons why cedar mulch is so sought for.

Natural Color

Cedar mulch also has a nice natural color which makes it an excellent choice for a non-dyed decorative mulch. The red-brownish color adds warmth to your garden and it offers a great ground cover as well.

Can be Dyed

To add a decorative twist to your garden, you add a dyed cedar mulch which can really shape up the look of your garden. The colors range from red, yellow, brown, and even black.

Cons Of Cedar Mulch

Mushroom-Sprouting in Cedar Mulch
Cedar mulch harbors the right temperature and conditions to promote mushroom growth well.

Cedar mulch does have some characteristics which might not really be suitable for your garden and can limit its use. Below are some mentioned downsides of cedar mulch.

Can Repel Useful Insect

Cedar mulch can repel beneficial insects such as pollinators. A huge percentage of plants depend upon these pollinators for pollen transfer hence, cedar mulch is not a good choice if you want your plants to produce fruit or seeds.

Isn’t Cost Effective

Cedar mulch is more expensive than average mulch. It is not a good choice if you’re on a tight budget.

It Releases Acetic Acid

If cedar mulch is not able to receive enough oxygen when it’s stored after production, it can release acetic acid which can damage your plants.

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Takes Longer To Decompose

Ivy Growing in Cedar Mulch
Even the ivy prefers to grow in soil with cedar mulch on it

Depending on the needs of the soil, a long lifetime of cedar mulch can be a disadvantage for your garden. Decomposition of mulch gives nutrients to the soil although the nutrients added by the slow decomposition of cedar mulch will be negligible.

Loses Its Color Fast

The color of cedar mulch diminishes quickly, so the decorative purpose of cedar mulch doesn’t stay for long.

Strong Unpleasant Smell

Cedar mulch has a strong smell to it, so some people often try to stay away from it. You can say it’s a human repellant as well in that sense.

Dyed Cedar Mulch

Dyed cedar mulch is never a good option for plants that bear edible fruits. The Dye uses chemicals that can end up inside the ground and even in plants damaging them in the process.

Best Way To Use Cedar Mulch And Some Concerns With It

Bags of Cedar Mulch
Mulch by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Now that we know about the pros and cons of cedar mulch, let’s talk about how and where we can actually use cedar mulch. 

The best practice is to use cedar mulch for paths and dog walks because you don’t need the soil to regenerate there. The plant also doesn’t get affected in any way making this a safe way to use cedar mulch.

It is also very common to use cedar mulch to cover the soil around plants although there is a bit of commotion with this practice. Some people believe cedar mulch produces unwanted substances and chemicals that damage the plant.

The belief about unwanted chemicals has been discredited by scholarly studies but still, some questions remain. Does the study talk about all types of cedar mulch or is it only valid for good quality cedar mulch? As we know aged cedar mulch does produce acetic acid.

The conclusion about cedar mulch being unlikely to affect the germination and growth of plants doesn’t give full confidence either.

The safest way to deal with the above concerns is to be cautious. Avoid the use of cedar mulch near newly germinated and small plants or fruit and seed-bearing plants as well. Cedar mulch can be used with well-established plants as there’s a degree of safety in this condition.

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