Mulch is like a magic carpet for your plants –– it retains moisture, protects your garden beds from erosion, and even adds nutrients to the soil (if you go organic). But how much is mulch for your yard going to cost you?
On average, most homeowners pay between $17 to $68 per cubic yard of mulch or $2 to $5.50 per bag. If you want that mulch professionally installed, expect to pay an additional $20 to $45 per cubic yard or $43 to $98 per hour, depending on how your landscaper prefers to charge.
You can skip the installation costs and spread the mulch yourself if you’re an avid DIYer.
Curious what affects total cost of mulch the most? We’ll run you through the facts below. If you’re interested in additional services –– like mulch blowing –– our pricing guide has you covered too.
How Much Does Mulch Cost?
- Typical Range for Materials: $17 to $68 per cubic yard or $2 to $5.50 per bag
- Typical Range for Labor: $20 to $45 per cubic yard or $43 to $98 per hour
- Typical Range for Materials and Labor: $37 to $113 per cubic yard
One cubic yard of mulch covers 108 square feet at 3 inches deep or 324 square feet at 1 inch deep.
Homeowners can expect to pay between $17 to $68 per cubic yard of mulch, though this will vary depending on the types of mulch and the amount of mulch you buy.
How much will a bag of mulch cover? One bag typically holds 2 cubic feet of mulch. A cubic yard of mulch contains 27 cubic feet, which means you would need 13.5 bags of mulch to cover 1 cubic yard (assuming all the bags have 2 cubic feet of mulch). The cost of one bag of mulch usually ranges from $2 to $5.50.
Professional mulch installation usually costs homeowners an additional $20 to $45 per cubic yard or $43 to $98 per hour.
On This Page
- How Much Does Mulch Cost?
- Cost Estimator by Mulch Type
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Extra Services
- Cost of DIY Mulching
- Cost of Mulch Installation by Location
- FAQ About Mulch
Cost Estimator by Mulch Type
The type of mulch you buy will have a significant impact on your total costs. The most affordable mulch type on our list is pine bark, which has an average price of $28 per cubic yard. On the expensive end, a cubic yard of rubber mulch can cost as much as $218.
If you prefer inorganic mulches, such as rubber or tumbled glass, you can expect a hefty bill. Organic mulches, like hemlock, bark, or pine straw, won’t pull as much from your wallet.
|MULCH TYPE||AVERAGE COST |
PER CUBIC YARD
|Shredded Hardwood Mulch||$45|
|Tea Tree Mulch||$47|
Other Factors That Affect Cost
Delivery fees, buying in bulk, and even your mulch’s longevity will all affect total cost. The type of mulch is a significant factor, but there are a few other elements to consider when calculating prices. Let’s go over them in more detail below:
Most mulch suppliers charge a flat delivery fee to haul the mulch to your home. If your home is far from the supplier, you may be charged even more. On average, mulch delivery fees run from $47 to $133.
Bagged mulch is measured in cubic feet. Mulch by the truckload, otherwise known as buying in bulk, is measured in cubic yards. Buying in bulk is the key to saving on mulch costs.
When you buy a bulk truckload of mulch, the cost of each cubic yard begins to lower. Order over 10 cubic yards of mulch, and you could pay as little as $10 to $20 per cubic yard.
If you have several areas in your landscape to mulch, it’s best to buy all the mulch you need at once, instead of buying more bags each time you begin mulching a new space.
Here’s what you can expect to pay when you buy in bulk:
|NUMBER OF |
|AVERAGE COST |
PER CUBIC YARD
|1 – 3||$40 to $70|
|4 – 6||$30 to $40|
|7 – 10||$20 to $30|
|10+||$10 to $20|
Size of Area
A simple rule of thumb: The greater the area you need to mulch, the more mulch you’ll need to buy.
You’ll also need to consider how thick you want the mulch layer to be. If you’re going to cover a 324-square-foot area with a 1-inch mulch layer, that will cost you 1 cubic yard of mulch.
But if you want a 2-inch mulch layer on that 324-square-foot area, you’ll need to buy 2 cubic yards of mulch instead of one.
Some mulches last longer than others. If you want to buy an affordable organic mulch, such as bark, you’ll need to replace it every time the old mulch decomposes. Mulch replacement costs can add up year after year.
Inorganic mulches, though more expensive than organic mulches, typically don’t need routine replacement. Inorganic mulches take several years to degrade. In the long-term, buying inorganic mulch might save you more money than organic mulch.
Keep in mind that saving on replacement costs isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing between organic or inorganic mulch. Both inorganic and organic mulches have pros and cons, longevity only being one of them.
Your front lawn might need a little something extra to make it the best looking one on the block. Mulch will make your eye-catching Johnny Jump Ups spring from the landscape, but it won’t do that much good if those flowers compete with nuisance weeds or unattractive edging.
And if installing mulch by hand proves to be a problem for you or your landscaper, there’s another installation service you might want to consider: mulch blowing.
Landscapers typically charge between $35 to $58 per cubic yard for mulch blowing.
Mulch blowing involves special equipment that blows mulch through long tubes or hoses. It’s an excellent option for homeowners who need to get a large mulching job done quickly or have areas that wheelbarrows cannot access.
Before laying your mulch in your flower beds, you’ll want to tackle any weed growth first. You can spend the weekend working on your hands and knees, or you can turn to a professional for help.
Most homeowners spend an average of $65 to $120 for weed control, depending on the method used. Paying a gardener to hand-pull the weeds usually costs between $30 to $60 per hour.
Edging boosts your curb appeal, but it also helps keep your mulch in place on those windy or rainy days. Edging creates an appealing line between the grass and bed using materials like wood, rocks, or brick to define the areas and give them a manicured look.
Also known as curbing, a typical edging job costs most homeowners between $750 to $1,600. If you’re looking to spruce up your curb appeal, this may be just the solution for you.
Cost of DIY Mulching
If the equipment required for mulching is already in your tool shed, and you’re only filling in a small flower bed or two, installing the mulch yourself can save you quite a few bucks. If you don’t have the equipment or the time, calling in a professional is the best way to go.
|Face Mask||$14 (for a box of 25|
to 50 disposable face masks)
|Total Average Cost:||$208|
How to Install Mulch
Step 1: Prepare the mulch area
Get all set for your mulching project by placing your tools near the area you want to mulch. Put on your gardening gloves and wear a face mask to protect against dust and other allergens.
If you have a mulch pile from a truckload delivery, use your shovel to place the mulch into the wheelbarrow. If you bought bags, empty them into the wheelbarrow for easy transport.
Step 2: Pull up weeds
Before laying down your mulch, pull up any weeds. Once you’ve removed every pesky dandelion, you’re ready to start edging.
Step 3: Edge the area
Edge the area you want to mulch by building a small barrier with stones or bricks. The border will help keep the mulch off the grass and in place.
Step 4: Level the surface
Using either your hand or landscape rake, smooth out the ground so your mulch can lay on a level surface.
Step 5: Apply mulch
Using your hands, shovel, or garden trowel, lay small amounts of mulch into the bed. Avoid dumping a large amount of mulch at once, as this may harm plants or lead to some spots that are uneven and too thick.
Step 6: Spread the mulch
Even out the layer of mulch with the landscape rake or your hands. An ideal mulch layer is 2 to 3 inches deep. Anything more than 4 inches could suffocate your plants.
Pro Tip: Mulching around a tree? The PennState Extension recommends pulling mulch 3 to 5 inches away from young trees and 8 to 10 inches away from mature trees.
DIY Cost vs. Professional Mulch Installation Cost
If you already own the necessary equipment for mulch installation, applying the mulch yourself can often be the more affordable option. You’ll still need to pay for the mulch, but you can avoid the professional labor costs.
When should you call in a professional? If you don’t have the necessary equipment in your tool shed to install mulch, you may want to hire a professional.
Here’s why: Buying all the equipment at the store will cost you around $208. Paying a professional to install just 1 cubic yard of mulch will cost you much less than all that equipment. Most professionals charge $20 to $45 per cubic yard of mulch they install.
What if you already have the equipment? If you already have the necessary equipment to install the mulch yourself, call in a professional for those large-scale projects. Doing a major landscaping project by yourself can quickly eat up your time and turn into tiresome work.
Cost of Mulch Installation by Location
All costs listed in this pricing guide are national average costs. On a local scale, factors such as mulch prices, labor costs, and delivery fees may be higher or lower than the average costs.
Varied prices are often due to how local suppliers decide to set their rates. If you live far away from a supplier, your mulch vendor may charge a high delivery fee.
FAQ About Mulch
Determining how much mulch you need takes a few simple calculations. Grab a pen, paper, and your favorite thinking cap:
Step 1: Calculate the square footage of the area you want to mulch.
— If the area is a rectangle, multiply its width by its height.
W x H = square footage of the rectangular area
— If the area is a circle, measure the distance from its center to its edge. This measurement is called the radius (R). Multiply R by itself, and then multiply the total by 3.14 (π).
R x R x 3.14 = square footage of the circle area
— If your garden area is an indistinct shape, you’ll need to use your imagination. Try to picture the circles and rectangles that make up the area’s unusual shape. Calculate each imaginary shape’s square footage and then add them together to find the total square footage.
Step 2: Decide how deep you want the mulch.
An ideal mulch layer is 2 to 3 inches thick. Decide how deep you want your mulch layer to be, and write that number down. You’ll need it for the next step.
Step 3: Determine how many cubic yards you need.
Multiply the total square footage of your garden bed by your chosen depth. Your calculation should look like this:
Total square footage of the garden bed x desired depth (inches) = X
Next, divide the above total (X) by 324 (1 cubic yard covers a 324 square foot area with a 1-inch layer of mulch). This answer will equal the amount of mulch you need in cubic yards.
X / 324 = number of cubic yards you need.
If you plan to buy mulch by the truckload, you have all the information you need to make your bulk order. If you plan to buy bags of mulch instead, move onto the next step to find how many bags you need.
Step 4: If you want to buy bagged mulch
One cubic yard equals 27 cubic feet. One mulch bag typically contains 2 cubic feet of mulch. That means 13.5 bags of mulch equals one cubic yard (assuming all the bags hold 2 cubic feet).
To calculate how many bags of mulch you’ll need, follow this simple calculation:
13.5 (bags) x number of cubic yards you need = total bags of mulch
But what if the bags at your local home improvement store don’t sell mulch bags holding 2 cubic feet? There’s a simple solution. Most bags have 2 cubic feet of mulch, but there are exceptions.
Here’s a formula that can help in a case like this:
27 cubic feet / number of cubic feet in the bags = number of bags for 1 cubic yard
Next, multiply the number of bags for 1 cubic yard by the number of cubic yards you need (this number is from Step 3)
Number of bags for 1 cubic yard x number of cubic yards you need = total bags of mulch you need
Mid- to late spring is the best time to apply mulch. You want your spring plants to have plenty of time to grow before laying down mulch. If you apply the mulch in early spring, your young plants will struggle to penetrate the mulch layer.
If your beds have a layer of old winter mulch that needs removing, pull it away gradually. Removing the mulch all at once could expose your plants to a cold snap.
Summer and winter are also good times to mulch. Applying an extra coat of mulch in summer can help retain moisture. Spreading mulch in winter helps with insulation.
Free mulch could be sitting right in your backyard as grass clippings, straw, compost, newspaper, pine needles, or leaves.
Organic mulches are plant-based materials such as wood chips, bark, or pine needles. Organic mulches are popular because they add nutrients to the soil and enhance plant health.
The disadvantage? Organic mulch decomposes over time, needs to be replaced, and some organic mulches even attract termites.
Inorganic mulches, such as rubber, plastic, or landscape fabric, are not plant-based. These mulches don’t add nutrients to the soil, but they still serve many of the same functions as organic mulch, including retaining moisture, preventing erosion, and protecting the plants.
Inorganic mulch’s advantage is that it lasts for a long time, rarely needs to be replaced, and it doesn’t attract pests.
Whether you install the mulch yourself or hire a professional, mulch can be a great addition to your landscape. If you have the supplies and the time, applying the mulch yourself can save you on installation costs.
If you have a large area to cover, hiring a local landscaping professional near you may be the way to go.
Remember, you can expect to pay between $17 and $68 per cubic yard of mulch or $2 to $5.50 per bag. For professional mulch installation, expect to pay an additional $20 to $45 per cubic yard or $43 to $98 per hour.
Main Photo Credit: Monsterkoi / Pixabay