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What Is The Best Color For Mulch? [7 Ideas!]

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Using the right mulch color will add to the aesthetics of your yard and home. While there is a variety of mulch available for use, you may wonder what color mulch would look best for your garden. Well, we have scoured the net and listed here the best options to help you out in your mulching project.

The best color mulch will depend on your taste whether you prefer using organic materials or not. Nonetheless, the following colors are generally the best for aesthetic considerations:

  • Red 
  • Brown 
  • Black 

Choosing to use any of the three will necessitate that you consider your house and plant color palette. We'll delve into the considerations when these colors are most appropriate for your garden. We'll also share some great ideas in the sections below, so keep reading!

Gardener placing pine tree bark mulch in the flower bed, What Is The Best Color For Mulch? [7 Ideas!]

When do you use red mulch?

Red mulch is the most popular color as it makes the most contrast to the green plants and grass of your garden plants and will highlight light-colored plants. You have to consider the lawn and house color as a whole, though. So, if your house is predominantly red or brick-colored, then red may not be the best mulch color for you.

Landscape with stones and red sawdust

The downside of red mulch is that they are often dyed products that may stain and fade over time. Like brown mulch, this will necessitate replenishment every year. They may also call attention to themselves rather than the plants. 

Check out this red mulch liquid colorant on Amazon.

Types of Red Mulch

  • Red cedar
  • Lava rock
  • Other red-hued rocks

When is brown mulch the best?

Backyard garden modern designed landscaping

Brown mulch gives off a natural look that helps unify all the elements of the garden and the home. It's neutral and unifies all the possible colors of your garden and is best to complement a brick house.

This color mulch also comes in different shades and tones. The best thing about brown mulch is that they are usually made up of natural organic material, which will help enhance the soil microbial life and add plant nutrients when they break down.

The cons of using brown mulch are that they are often organic products that fade and need yearly replenishment. They also tend to dull dark-leafed plants.

Types of brown mulch

  • Cypress
  • Pine bark
  • Undyed oak hardwood
  • Cocoa hulls.

Why choose black mulch?

Salvia flowers and rock retaining wall at a residential home

You may want to use a black-colored mulch to achieve that modern and stylish look. Black mulch frames green plants the best and makes their colors pop out. They also look great against a white, gray, or yellow house.

Black mulch will tend to hold heat and make your soil too hot. Natural organic mulch is usually dyed with carbon and thus will fade over time and will require you to re-mulch. It's worth trying various types of stones, rocks, or shale that will maintain their color indefinitely.

Most gardeners do not recommend using rubber mulch as they are not environmentally friendly.

Types of Black Mulch

  • Black shale
  • Lava rock
  • Dark stones
  • Gravel

Check out this black mulch liquid colorant on Amazon.

Should you use artificially colored mulch?

Most gardeners opt for natural compost as color-dyed compost usually contains chemicals that are not good for your soil or plant. There are mulch options, however, which use non-toxic dyes that are certified by the Mulch Soil Council

What are the benefits of mulching?

Mulching does have several benefits for the garden and the farm. These benefits include the following:

  • Conserves moisture.
  • Prevents weed germination.
  • Controls erosion loss.
  • Removes residual effects of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and heavy metals.
  • Increases worm population.
  • Improves soil microbial life.
  • Improves plant growth.
  • Increases the aesthetic value of gardens and farms.

Aside from making your garden look good, you may choose to maximize the benefits by using natural materials for mulch.

7 Great Mulching Ideas

You may want to consider using free and available materials you can get from your own yard or you may ask from your local woodshop or municipal tree care service. As you can see in our list below, there are several options that will give a different visual appeal. All are excellent because they are safe mulches to use in your garden.


Compost is the best natural mulch. In addition to suppressing weeds, holding moisture, and feeding worms, it is an excellent fertilizer for your plants' growth. Its dark brown to nearly black color also brings out the color of your plants.

Make sure that you use compost that has undergone hot composting. This is to be assured that whatever plant pathogens and seeds are there will be completely eradicated before you use them as mulch in your garden bed.

Grass Clippings

Grass clippings also offer the same benefit as compost mulch. They are excellent source of nitrogen and are considered slow-release fertilizers. They are initially green in color, but the grass clippings will take on a light brown color as it dries out. You may apply them directly after mowing but take care not to use grass clippings when seeding to prevent grass from growing in your garden bed.

When using grass clippings as mulch, ensure not to mulch more than 1 inch thick of dried grass to allow good water penetration, or if needed, mix on a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio with compost, dried leaves, or wood chips.


You can ask for sawdust in your local wood mill or furniture shop. They will most likely give it to you for free. But it has to be sawdust from untreated wood. Sawdust comes in a variety of brown and near red colors and tones so you will have a variety to choose from depending on what is available in your local area.

Wood Chips

Gardener mulching flower bed with pine tree bark mulch

You may also avail of wood chips from your municipal tree care service or wood shop. If you have a wood chipper, you may produce your own wood chips from the cut branches and bark of trees around your area.

They are one of the best natural mulches around as they are an excellent source of carbon once degraded and will last much longer than other natural mulches, helping you retain moisture longer without having to replace mulch often.

Straw or Hay

Straw and/or hay also make for excellent mulch. They spread out and are aerated enough to allow water to reach the soil while maintaining cover to prevent moisture loss by preventing evaporation. Like grass clippings, you need to watch out that you do not include seed stalks before you lay out your compost.

Beets grow in the garden under mulch from dry grass

Stones or Gravel 

If you really want to lessen your mulch replacement, you may consider using stone or gravel for mulching. There are a number of varieties and colors to choose from but select those that are readily available in your area. They prevent erosion, last indefinitely, and give you that modern look.

Mulched pebbles in the city garden

The downside of using stone or gravel mulch is that they retain heat and do not contain any organic material that will feed the worms or decompose to feed the plants. 

Backyard Leaves and Pine Needles

One of the easiest to find available natural compost includes backyard leaves. You may rake them from your own yard or from the sidewalks near your area. You may use a shredder or run a plastic line grass cutter on a large plastic bucket filled with leaves. Apply them as shredded mulch in your garden.

You may also use pine needles or pine straw as mulch. Unlike grass, they do not compact since they decompose so you will not have to worry about matting, especially as they will drain well. They provide an excellent natural red-brown color. They do make the soil slightly acidic, so make sure to use them around plants that love slightly acidic soil.

If you like to use them around plants that prefer less acidity, simply apply a thin layer of compost before you lay down the pine needles. That way, they help to buffer against the needles' acidity.

Leaves and pine needles are so light and fluffy—you can layer at least 3 to 4 inches to keep the weeds from germinating.

In Closing

In the end, the important thing is that you enjoy your garden. Take time to consider the design elements and the plant varieties that make up your landscape. By selecting the best color and type of mulch, you will improve the viewing experience and ensure better plant growth!

Finally, you may want to check out these other posts to improve your garden:

How Much Does A Boulder Retaining Wall Cost?

15 Landscaping Ideas Around House Foundation