You have decided to add some fresh mulch to your landscape, great! Now comes the question of sourcing your material. Whether you are buying gravel, soil, or mulch, there are generally two options: bagged or bulk. Let us help you weigh the pros and cons of each.
One of the easiest ways to figure out if you should buy bulk or bagged is the quantity needed. First, let’s go over the typical sizes for each option. If you get lost in the math or don’t feel like doing the calculation, no worries! There will be a cheat sheet at the end of the article that will do the conversions, surface area coverage, and even the cost.
Bagged products typically range from 2 - 3 cubic feet, and most bagged mulches are 2 cubic feet. For reference, a 2 cubic foot bag will cover a 12 square foot area with a 2” depth.
Bulk products are generally measured in cubic yards or “scoops”. A cubic yard of mulch is 27 cubic feet and will cover 162 square feet at a 2” depth. “Scoops” are a little more vague. This term in the landscaping industry can vary from supplier to supplier, so your best bet is to ask your local company how many yards are in a scoop if that’s how they measure (Mulch Mound handles this conversion for you, just sayin’!). Scoops tend to be around 18 cubic feet or ⅔ of a yard. Although the measurement is confusing, this could provide you more flexibility for smaller projects.
A high-quality mulch is important for preventing weeds, providing nutrients to your plants, preventing run-off and improving curb appeal (see our other blog for a more in-depth explanation of the benefits of mulching). Most agree that mulch from local landscape suppliers is higher quality compared to the bagged mulch you may see at places like Lowe’s, Walmart, etc. Not many people know this, but local suppliers will usually let customers purchase mulch in bag form for smaller projects. Keep in mind you will need to transport the bags yourself and sometimes even bag the mulch yourself.
When we go to the store, items tend to be cheaper if you buy in bulk so the same must apply to material, right? Well, the answer is actually a little more tricky. Landscaping materials in bulk require delivery from the supplier which doesn’t come cheap since a dump truck has to be used. The charges for delivery vary from $40 - $200+ per order which can really add up for small quantities. Keep in mind you will still need to take the time to pick up the bagged mulch and pay for transportation, so the delivery isn’t really $0 for bagged mulch. If cost is the deciding factor for you, a good rule of thumb is to use bagged mulch for projects that require 1-2 cubic yards. If you want a more accurate cost comparison, the tool below will help you determine which type is more economical for your project.
When you get bulk mulch, local suppliers will deliver the mulch in your driveway using a dump truck. If you don’t have a driveway or one big enough for a dump truck, most companies will not deliver the product for liability reasons. Once this pile of mulch is in your driveway, you will need a way to transport it to your flower beds. If you don’t have a wheelbarrow and a scoop shovel/pitchfork, moving the mulch might prove to be difficult and time consuming, so bags may be your better option. Without a driver’s license or a suitable vehicle, picking up bagged mulch may be out of the question and bulk is your only choice.
Buying mulch from your local landscaping supplier is your best option in most scenarios. With your newfound knowledge, it is time to make a decision on whether bagged or bulk mulch better meets your needs. If you go with bulk, Mulch Mound would be happy to supply you with a local product!