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November 8, 2021

Determine the Amount of Mulch You Need

Mulching is a process of applying some material, such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost to the surface of your garden soil to serve a certain purpose like

  • to hold soil moisture by stopping water evaporation especially in summer,
  • to suppress weed growth,
  • to keep the soil temperature cooler,
  • for decorative purposes.

So, in simple words, mulch is any material that covers the soil’s surface. Mulch may be applied to bare soil or around trees, flower beds, paths, on slopes, and in fields where flowers and vegetables are grown. Mulches of manure are usually spread naturally into the soil by the movement of various worms and other organisms.

Usually, a 2″ thick layer of organic mulch is perfect to retain moisture and keep down weeds. But the more, the better’ formula does not apply here. Plant roots require air to survive, and so, a very deep layer of mulch can suffocate roots and harm the plant or tree.

You can use a mulch calculator developed by horticulturists to calculate the exact amount of mulch needed which, nevertheless depends on the type of mulch used. Finely textured mulch, such as shredded hardwood, shouldn’t be more than 3″ thick. whereas coarse textures, like pine bark nuggets, can go up to 4″ deep as they allow air circulation through the pores.

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However, it is not that simple to decide or guess the correct amount of mulch needed for your garden or field. It rather needs some precision and calculation before buying the correct amount of mulch for your requirement. The mulch calculator formula makes this job easy, fast and accurate. The only tools you will require are a measuring wheel or a measuring tape and a calculator. Here we explain the few steps involved in using a munch calculator:

Step 1-Type of mulch should be decided:

There are varieties of landscape mulches available; a few of the common ones are shredded bark, hardwood, sawdust, pine chips, pine straw, compost, hay, shells, grass clippings, coconut coir, etc. Then by using the following mulch calculator formula you can find out the exact amount of any type of mulch.

The mulch calculator formula:

Area of the bed (in sq-ft) x desired depth (in inch) / 324 = cubic yards needed.

Step 2-Find the area of the garden:

Here to calculate the area you can apply appropriate formula depending upon the shape of your garden or bed i.e., whether it is a rectangle, square, oval, circular, triangular, or of irregular shape.

Step 3-Decide the depth of the mulch layer:

Depending upon the place of mulching you can decide the optimum thickness required. For shrub and tree beds, 3-4″ of mulch, and for vegetable and flower gardens, 1-3″ inches are fine.

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Step 4-Decide to buy mulch in the bag or bulk:

As a thumb rule for smaller areas buying in bags is economical whereas for large landscaping and gardens purchasing in bulk is more practical. Compare the quotes and then decide accordingly. Last but not the least, try to purchase bagged or bulk products from nurseries or home improvement stores only.


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