What is Better Organic or Inorganic Mulch?

We often have discussions with clients about mulch. What options there are, costs, lifecycle. But today we thought we would just talk about what are the pros and cons of organic vs inorganic mulch to help you make a more informed decision when it comes time for you to choose.

What is Mulch?

Mulch is

 “ a protective covering (as of sawdust, compost, or paper) spread or left on the ground to reduce evaporation, maintain even soil temperature, prevent erosion, control weeds, enrich the soil, or keep fruit (such as strawberries) clean”

They supress weeds, prevent soil compaction and help keep your garden beds looking neat clean and tidy.  Helps keep soil temperatures stable and promotes root growth and protects them from damage due to mowing or wiper snipping.

What is Inorganic Mulch?

Inorganic mulches are items that are not made up of organic matter. Such as rocks or gravel. Plastic is sometimes used as mulch, however, we strongly advise against this and really only include it here as some of our clients have asked about it. Why not use plastic sheeting as mulch in the garden is probably another blog post.

What are Organic Mulches?

Organic mulches are mulches that at one point in their life used to be alive and are made up of organic matter. There are several types of organic mulches and they include leaves, bark, grass clippings, seeds and nuts, straw and hay, wood chippings, compost, paper and cardboard, and coco fiber. As you can see there is a large range of organic materials that can be used.

Pros and Cons

So now know you know the difference between the two types of mulches, now what are the pros and cons for each?



  • It doesn’t rot away
  • They suppress weeds
  • They help the soil hold water
  • They prevent soil erosion
  • Doesn’t include weed seeds
  • Doesn’t deplete nitrogen
  • Can help prevent pests


  • If you have a lot of leaf litter falling onto the mulch it quickly gets covered and can look messy.
  • Can be costly for large areas
  • It can be difficult to change plants or dig in the beds in the future
  • Can overheat plants as the rock absorbs and reflects heat during the day
  • They can imbed into your soil and be difficult to remove



  • They suppress weeds
  • They help the soil hold water
  • They prevent soil erosion
  • They feed the soils with nutrients as they break down
  • Improve soil texture
  • Feed micro organisms, bacteria and fungi in the soil
  • Can reduce the spread of soil-borne pathogens
  • You can make changes to the garden with less effort


  • You need to replace it once or twice a year depending on the materials you use. Different types of organic mulch break down at different rates. Or example straw mulch is a lot quicker to break down than bark mulch.
  • Fresh green mulch can deplete the soil of nutrients (this is probably another blog post on how this occurs but be aware it can occur)
  • If they are too thick they can form a layer on the soil that water cannot penetrate
  • May contain weeds
  • If you have bush turkeys you need to prevent the turkey from moving mulch around
  • It can attract pests such as termites (so be aware where you place it around buildings and foundations)

So what is the result? It comes down to personal preference, cost, and if you need to improve your soil. However we always prefer to use organic mulch, the best way to have healthy plants is to have healthy soil. So if you are feeding your soil with further organic matter and nutrients you will create an environment where everything can thrive.

If you would like to talk to us about your garden and how we can help you create a place you will love contact us today.