Chipped Hardwood Bark Mulch
Chipped hardwood bark mulch, which is made from grounded up or chipped trees, can often be purchased at a low cost or even given away for free at township landfills. Getting your chipped hardwood bark mulch this way, however, does put you at risk of bringing home mulch made from diseased trees. Therefore, it is best to compost this mulch for a year before you apply it to your garden.
You can also purchase chipped hardwood bark from most garden centers. It makes for a great mulch because it is fibrous and has the ability to interlock with other pieces. This helps prevent the mulch from getting washed away by a hard rainfall. It is also heavy enough to help your garden retain its moisture during dry summer months, while still being light and airy enough to allow water and air to permeate it.
Chipped hardwood bark mulch also has natural anti-insect and antifungal properties that are beneficial to your garden. It also provides nutrients to the ground as it decomposes and does not take away any nitrogen from the ground as it decomposes as some other forms of organic mulch can.
Cedar mulch has similar properties to chipped hardwood bark mulch. In addition, cedar mulch will not erode. It does not, however, have insect repellent properties like chipped hardwood bark mulch.
Therefore, a mixture of cedar mulch and chipped hardwood bark mulch can be an excellent mulch for any garden.
Softwood Bark Mulch
Softwood bark mulch is created from fir, pine, and redwood trees. It can be purchased in a variety of different sizes and is long-lasting. It is a great choice for foundation plantings, but it does not have the ability to interlock like chipped hardwood bark mulch. For this reason, softwood bark mulch can wash away in strong rains such as those experienced in the Gulf Coast region. This is particularly true of large nuggets, which have a tendency to float in water.
Like chipped hardwood bark mulch, softwood bark mulch has natural anti-fungus and anti-insect properties. For the best weed control, you should add two to three inches of softwood bark to your garden. It also will not rob nitrogen from your garden soil.
Softwood bark can, however, attract termites and other types of insects. Since pine bark mulch has a tendency to flake or chip, it is great for use as a soil amendment or for use in potting soils as well.