Mulch can be a very beneficial addition to your home garden or landscaping. Organic mulch, such as pine straw or bark mulch, can help the soil retain moisture, prevent weed growth, reduce temperature fluctuations and add beauty to your outdoor space.
But how much mulch will you need? You may see a lot of talk about buying mulch by the cubic yard. How many feet are in a cubic yard? How many bags does that equal, and will you need more mulch? We’ll answer all of these questions and more in this guide.
How Many Cubic Feet In A Yard Of Mulch?
Generally, when you say “a yard” of mulch, this refers to one cubic yard.
A cubic yard is 27 cubic feet.
Home and garden stores typically sell mulch in bags. Although bags are convenient for buying and transporting home, it’s not always easy to figure out how many you’ll need.
- Most bags hold about two cubic feet of mulch.
- If a cubic yard of mulch has 27 cubic feet, you’ll need 13-1/2 bags.
Keep in mind that some places may sell bigger or smaller bags of mulch. Check the bag label or store sign before buying to make sure it’s two cubic feet.
You may find bags that are just one cubic foot or three.
- If bags are one cubic foot, you’ll need 27 bags.
- If bags have three cubic feet of mulch, you’ll need 9 bags.
If you plan to buy a cubic yard’s worth of mulch in bags, make sure that you have the right vehicle for the job or be prepared to take multiple trips. Each bag can weigh 20-60 lbs., depending on the moisture content.
How To Determine How Much Mulch Do I Need?
Knowing how many cubic feet are in a cubic yard of mulch and how many bags that equals is useful. But do you really need a cubic yard of mulch? Maybe you need more.
Determining how much mulch to buy can be a challenge, but a quick calculation can help you plan your purchase.
Here’s how to determine how much mulch you’ll need.
- First, measure the space where you want to add mulch. Make sure that you measure the width, length or diameter of the space. If you have an irregularly shaped bed, then break the space down into rectangles or circles for easy calculations.
- Calculate the square footage of the garden bed. For rectangular or square beds, multiply the length by the width. For circular beds, multiply the diameter by itself. Take this figure (for either rectangular/square or circular beds) and multiply it by 3.14.
- Next, multiply your square footage by your desired depth for the mulch (2-4″ is common, and 2” is ideal).
- Finally, divide this figure by 324. One cubic yard covers 324 square feet of space at one inch deep.
Follow these steps to determine how many cubic yards of mulch you need.
Once you know exactly how much mulch you’ll need, all that’s left to do is buy it and lay it down. Of course, there’s a right and wrong way to lay down mulch, so let’s look at the best practices.
How to Add Mulch Around Trees
Mulch is excellent for trees, but it’s important to lay it down properly.
- Never place mulch against the trunk.
- Keep the mulch at least 6” away from the trunk of the tree to prevent rot.
- A 2-4″ layer is all that’s needed.
- Don’t create mounds around the tree.
The goal is to place a layer of mulch further out around the trunk to keep grass from stealing nutrients and prevent weed growth. Placing mulch directly onto the trunk may lead to rot and prevent the tree from getting the oxygen and nutrients its roots need to thrive.
When to Lay Mulch
When is the best time of year to lay mulch? Typically, mid-to-late spring is ideal. At this time, the soil is starting to warm up. Adding mulch too early will slow down this important warming process.
Is It Better to Buy Mulch in Bulk or Buy the Bag?
Whether or not you should buy mulch by the bag or in bulk really depends on:
- Your budget
- The size of the space
- Your personal preference
If you have only a small garden bed to mulch or a few trees, then you may only need to purchase a few bags of mulch. However, if you have a large bed or several trees to cover, then it may make more sense to buy in bulk.