Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: Which Worked Better?

I add new mulch about every two years to the beds around our house.  Up until now, I’ve always used bagged mulch.  We had an SUV so it was easy enough to load up the back with as many bags as we could.  This was my first time having a pickup truck, so we decided to try getting bulk mulch.  This helped us evaluate whether bagged mulch or bulk was better for us.

We normally purchase bagged mulch from Lowes or Home Depot.  We found a place that sells mulch by the yard just a mile away from our home.  Basically, they just dump as much as you need (by the half-yard) into your truck.

Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: The Factors

image from morguefile via Kymmy
  • Getting The Mulch.   Driving up and having a load of mulch dumped in the truck took a few minutes.  Loading up the SUV with bags took quite a while.  Winner: Bulk.
  • Price.  I can usually get bagged mulch for $2 per bag.  It takes 13 bags to make a cubic yard, so it works out to $27 per bag.  The bulk mulch was $32 per yard, but I’m pretty sure they err on the top side.  Winner: Draw.
  • Quality.  This is probably too soon to tell.  People complain if the mulch breaks down too fast, loses color too fast, or actually grows weeds.  The quality of the bagged mulch has been OK.  In looking at the website of the place we got the bulk mulch from, they are very meticulous about what goes into making their mulch.  They also treat it for weeds and such.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Winner: To Be Determined.
  • Spreading the Mulch.  This was a total reverse of the first item.  Hands down, taking bags of mulch from the SUV to their needed location, then popping open the bag, was much easier than having to shovel mulch from the truck into a wheel barrow.  In fact, I felt that I gave up the advantage of the loading and then some.

Do We Have A Winner?

For the record we went through three yards of mulch this year.  That’s probably the most I’ve ever used.

So, if the factors above are equal, then right now it would look like I’d favor using bagged mulch.  But this is based only on three of four known variables.  Price is a draw, and the time to load and unload the mulch slightly favors the bags.  So if it was only on those factors, bagged would win.

However, quality is a pretty big unknown variable.  If this mulch knocks our socks off, then it might be worth the extra time it takes.  I guess the question is, can mulch really knock your socks off?

Readers, what do you think?  Is buying mulch in bags or in bulk a better option? Do you lay your own mulch or do you have someone do it?  Let me know your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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7 thoughts on “Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: Which Worked Better?

  1. Hm…that’s interesting. My personal inclination is to go with bulk when possible. However, it looks like the price is close to a draw (surprisingly, IMHO) and the quality is…unknown? I dunno. It seems to me if you have it in bags, it would be easier to store any leftovers, and then you’d have some extra on hand if you needed it for whatever reason.
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    • True, though with mulch you can always find a place to spread some extra around. I think the most I’ve had left over in any year past is a bag, maybe two.

  2. I’ve haven’t mulched in a couple of years but I always used bags. I didn’t need that many and I don’t have a truck. The bags could go right in the back of the minivan if I put the rear seats down. Some places (by me at least) will deliver a yard of mulch or topsoil and just dump it right in your driveway. i’m not sure what that costs and it still involves back-breaking work with a shovel and wheelbarrow.
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  3. I used to get our mulch for FREE from our county landfill/recycling center. I would get a load in my pick up when I took the recycling. But the County Commissioners decided to quit the practice…not a fan of this decision…just sayin’. So I began using the bagged mulch from Home Depot and IMHO this is the way to go. I get it for about $2 a bag. It covers well, stores well, is consistent and is easier to put where you want. And believe it or not, I seem to need less to do the same area. It’s bagged for me!

    • My sister-in-laws boyfriend works for a company that does roadwork, so they work on clearing a lot of trees, which they mulch and offer to their employees. Free is always better!

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