Uses of Cedar Mulch in Gardening: Pros and Cons

Cedar mulch

If you are a gardener, then you must know about cedar mulch. Chipping or shredding cedar wood creates cedar mulch. Gardeners can keep their soil moist by covering the ground’s surface with mulch. It has an insect-repulsive smell and can add nutrients to the earth, but it also has some disadvantages. Learn why and how to use cedar mulch and when to use and not use it.

What Is Cedar Mulch?

Wood chopping

Chipping and shaving of the cortex of the cedar tree derive cedar mulch. Cedar trees are usually found in the U.S., in USDA hardiness zones 7–9. Its average color is reddish-brown, but it can be dyed black, red, yellow, or dark brown. This mulch is good for the plant’s health and can add a decorative touch to your garden.

Why Should You Use Mulch?

Use this mulch to cover the soil.  Anything which can make a protection layer on the ground is called mulch. It can be anything like cedar or other tree bark, cardboard, stones, gravel, an old carpet, or a blanket.

Why Do We Need To Cover The Soil?

Covering the earth can protect it from rainfall, dry conditions, wind, and temperature changes. Various types of weeds can grow first when the soil is not covered. And do you know? Soil can lose its 10% carbon within 24 hours because of digging and cultivating. Cedar mulch is used for decorative purposes too.

What Type Of Mulch Should You Use?

Different types of mulch

There are two types of mulch: animate and inanimate. The inanimate mulch does not decompose. So it cannot interact with the soil. Stone is inanimate mulch. The organic mulch decomposes in the soil and helps the ground by absorbing nitrogen from the earth

Warning: In some cases, mulch can change the PH balance of the soil, so keep checking. Some resources say that green pine needles can make your soil acidic. Even wooden bark, including cedar mulch, can do the same while your soil already has a low ph.

Pros And Cons Of Mulch:


Advantages of using cedar mulch:

1- Long-lasting beds with low maintenance

2- Keep the moisture in the soil

3- Mulch accumulates nutrients in the soil

4- It can regulate the soil temperature.

5- Good ground cover

6- Deteriorate pests

7- Putting a brake on growing weeds

8- Decorative purpose

Disadvantages of using cedar mulch:

1- Cedar mulch is expensive

2- It repels pollinators and is beneficial to insects.

3-  The soil can require Nitrogen supplementation.

4- Slowly decompose

5- Lose the colorfast

6- Strong smells

 7- Release acetic acid

You must know about the advantages and disadvantages of the mulch you are applying. Mulch stays in the soil for quite a long time. So it has an enormous effect on the garden.

This mulch has various advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss them in detail:

The Benefits Of Using Cedar Mulch:

Mulch has many qualities that can be helpful for your soil. Let’s discuss the amenities of using this mulch in the garden:

Long-lasting beds with low maintenance:

This mulch lasts longer than any other organic mulch (like pine bark or straw). Western and white cedar contain a bacteria- and mold-resistant chemical named thujaplicin. It does not break down as quickly as other mulches and does not need to be changed frequently, at least not for years. It does not require high maintenance; you can forget it after applying.

Keep the moisture in the soil:

Cedarwood mulch plays a workable role in soil moisture retention. It forms an above-ground layer that acts as a barrier between air and soil and provides wind protection. Like other mulches, it can reduce the need for frequent irrigation by preventing evaporation from the earth. That is why, in a dry climate, organic gardens use a bed of mulch to grow vegetables.

Mulch accumulates nutrients in the soil:

Like other natural materials, cedar mulch decomposes into the ground. It can fertilize the soil with nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, carbon, and magnesium. This mulch can improve aeration by making the soil fluffy. It can draw some nitrogen from the earth during decomposition. Thus, using nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the ground is a good idea.

Regulating the soil temperature:

Mulch can stabilize the soil temperature throughout the year by creating a physical barrier between the earth and air. Cedar mulch can protect the soil from the sun and reduce evaporation during a warm atmosphere. So during summer, it helps to keep the soil cool. Many microorganisms live under the ground, which produces heat. During the winter, this mulch regulates the temperature by trapping this heat.

Good ground cover:

Cedar mulch is a good ground cover. Covering the ground surface is very beneficial to the soil. It can create a protective layer between the earth and the air. Mulch covers the ground surface and protects the ground from washing away due to rain, dry conditions, and winds. It can ward off soil erosion and maintain a constant temperature.


Cedar mulch can play a role as a natural pesticide. It can deter pests by releasing aromatic hydrocarbons and other natural chemicals like thujone. It can ward off many insects, like cockroaches, beetles, cloth-eating moths, termites, and ants. Not every mulch can play the same role, but this mulch can be the best option.

Putting a brake on growing weeds:

Covering the ground with cedar mulch can prevent the growth of unwanted weeds. Weeds cannot get sunlight because of the mulch, so they cannot grow. If some still come out, you can easily spot them because of the color of the mulch and put them out.

Decorative purpose:

Cedar mulch can add value to your garden with its beautiful reddish-brown color. Many gardeners use this mulch to decorate their gardens.

Disadvantages Of Using Mulch

Apart from having some advantages, cedar mulch has some drawbacks. Let’s discuss the cons of using cedar mulch in the garden:

Cedar mulch is expensive:

Compared to other hardwood mulches, cedar mulch is very expensive. You can get other mulch for almost half of its price. Though it is costly, it can last for years. You can decide by comparing its cost with its stability.

Mulch repels pollinators and beneficial insects:

Mulch helps deter and kill insect-like cockroaches, beetles, cloth-eating moths, termites, and ants, but the worst part is that it also fends off the beneficial insects. Cedar mulch contains the chemical thujone, which repels beneficial insects like bees and ladybirds.

Nitrogen supplementation is required:

Nitrogen plays a vital role in plant growth. When the mulch decomposes, it can leach some nitrogen from the earth. Generally, the cedar mulch leaches the upper layer of nitrogen, which may not be harmful to the root of the plant, but using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer is still a good decision.

Slowly decompose:

The slow decomposition of cedar mulch has both benefits and drawbacks. It is an advantage because it stays longer. It is a disadvantage because it cannot provide nutrients to the soil until the mulch decomposes.

Lose the colorfast:

Many people use this mulch for decorative purposes. Because of color loss, the cosmetic vibe will diminish soon.

Strong smells:

This mulch has a strong scent. People who have extreme allergies can get irritated by this smell. This smell can last for a month or so.

Release of acetic acid:

This issue may arise if someone deprives the mulch of oxygen after production. It severely harms plants as a result.

When Should You Use Cedar Mulch?

Hot region:

In hot weather, the evaporation rate can increase. Because of evaporation, soil loses its moisture, and as a result, it requires frequent watering. Covering the upper layer of ground with cedar mulch, you can protect the root from the sun’s intensity. Cedar mulch can reduce the evaporation rate and keep the soil moist in hot and dry regions.

Winter and cold territory:

Cedar mulch is utilized in cold climates to maintain the earth at a constant temperature. It traps the soil temperature by producing many microorganisms. Soil can lose its moisture because of wind also. Mulch covers the upper part of the ground and protects the soil from light wind.

Covering the flower bed:

Gardeners can use it to cover the flower bed.

Aesthetic improvement:

It can subdue unwanted weeds and accentuate garden beauty.

When Should You Not Use Cedar Mulch?

Wet weather:

You should avoid mulch in wet areas. Because it keeps the soil moist and reduces the evaporation rate. Using mulch in wet regions can lead to the ground becoming waterlogged, which can cause the roots of the plants to become soggy and rot.

Sensitivity to fragrance:

Mulch made of cedar has an intense scent. It’s well-liked by many, but if anyone has fragrance allergies, they should avoid using mulch in the garden.

Acidic soil:

Fresh cedar mulch may affect the soil’s PH level. It can be harmful when your soil already has a low PH level. Thus, you should not use mulch when your soil has low PH levels.

Pollinators and beneficial insects:

Mulch can repel pollinators and beneficial insects because of its strong smell. And can affect the ecosystem. So to produce seeds and fruit, it’s best to steer clear of mulch.

Vegetable garden:

Cedar mulch is expansive and also lasts longer. But many vegetables can only last for a few months, so every time you cultivate new crops, you change the mulch, which is not profitable. Use straw, dry leaves, and cardboard as mulch for the vegetable gardens instead of cedar mulch. Mulch repels pollinators from the vegetable garden.

Natural Color Cedar Mulch Or Dyed:

Cedar mulch can be dyed red, yellow, brown, or black. Dyed mulch can beautify your garden’s look. But it contains chemicals that can be harmful to your plants. If you use them in fruit and vegetable gardens, this can be harmful to your health also. So it is better to choose natural color mulch.

How To Use Cedar Mulch:

After learning about all the advantages and disadvantages of using cedar mulch, if you decide to use it in your garden, you should know how to use it properly. You shouldn’t disperse mulch at your own will. You have to follow some guidelines.


Here you can learn all the essential information for getting the best results from mulch.



1- Calculate the area

2- Calculate how much mulch you need.

3- Clean the ground

4- Moist the soil 

5- Apply 3 inches 

6- A safe distance from the plant

Calculate the area:

First, you should calculate the area you want to cover with mulch.

How much mulch do you need?

For every 10 square feet, you need 2.5 cubic feet of mulch. This amount can increase depending on how much thickness you want. For this purpose, you can use any free online mulch calculator.

Clean the ground:

Before applying the mulch, remove all unwanted weeds and grass. Do this the same day of mulching or the day before mowing the grass.

Soil moist:

Moisten the soil with water before mulching.


Apply 3-4 inches of mulch to the ground but not more than that

A safe distance from the plant:

Keep a safe distance from plants and mulch. Otherwise, the trunks can be rotten. Try to maintain at least a few inches between plants and mulch.

Myths And Frequently Asked Questions About Cedar Mulch:

There are many myths and doubts about mulch. Here we will clear all your doubts:

Allelopathic substances:

There is a myth that cedar mulch produces allelopathic substances.

Is cedar mulch better than any hardwood mulch?

In several cases, yes. It has more benefits than hardwood. It decomposes slowly, lasts longer, and warns off pests, but hardwood mulch does not have this ability. Mulch provides a decorative vibe to the garden, too. But cedar mulch is more expansive than hardwood mulch.

Is cedar mulch acidic?

Yes, cedar mulch is acidic. But it will not harm the soil if the soil’s PH level is good. It can be harmful when the soil is already acidic.

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