Cedar Mulch – Uses, Facts, Pros and Cons

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Cedar mulch is a popular choice among gardeners for its natural beauty, aroma, and pest-repelling properties.

Made from the bark of cedar trees, this type of mulch is known for its reddish-brown color and distinct cedar scent. In this article, we will dive deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of using cedar mulch in your garden, as well as how to properly use and maintain it.

From its natural pest-repelling properties to its long-lasting nature, cedar mulch has a lot to offer for any gardener looking to improve their landscape.

So, let’s deep dive into knowing cedar mulch from basic to advance.

What Is Cedar Mulch?

Cedar mulch is simply an organic mulch originally made from the wood of cedar trees. It is the part of bark or heartwood of cedar trees, that contains powerful resins and phenols to oppose insects, resist decay, give a pleasant smell, and give aesthetic value to your home or building.

Mulch, which is spread over topsoil to improve the health of the plants, may be formed from any organic or inorganic substance. The most common materials used to make mulch are bark or wood chips; other materials like grass clippings or pine needles may also use. The wood of cedar trees, either chipped or shredded, is used to make cedar mulch. Cedar mulch is the most commonly used mulch in the USA as it is by far better than hardwood and cypress mulch.

Why does cedar mulch work so well in our gardens? How it is a good color combo for building? What are some appropriate uses, and maybe more importantly, when should we avoid using it?

Let’s explore cedar mulch in more detail and learn all a gardener should know about it and its possible applications.

Pro’s Of Using Cedar Mulch – Cedar Mulch Benefits

Cedar Mulch Color

You may come across questions like:

What does cedar mulch look like? What color is cedar mulch?

The appealing scent and look of cedar mulch make it popular. Cedar mulch is naturally reddish in color, but it may be dyed to produce a variety of colors. The reddish color of cedar mulch suits well with different house colors and walls. Also, it looks eye-catching around the tree.

Although cedar mulch has a reddish tint by nature, it may safely color a more robust red, black, or brown. In comparison to other types of mulch, it takes longer for it to decompose. Thus, the quantity of essential nutrients it returns to the soil is more minor.

According to SBC Cedar, the colors are made from natural sources and won’t hurt humans, animals, or plants. However, exposure to sunshine will cause the colors to fade over time. The hue’s brilliance often only lasts for one season.

Helps in Water Retention

After all cedar mulch is a mulch and the functionality of each mulch is to retain the moisture of the soil. When you mulch in spring, the soil gets enough time to retain its moisture and is ready to fight summer’s heat and wind shocks.

Cedar mulch acts as a physical barrier between the sunlight + wind and protects soil against water evaporation. Water evaporation means the formation of water vapors and leaving the soil due to density differences in physical state.

Stops Weeds Growth

As there are many mulches that stop weeds growth, there is an also plenty of options in some best cedar mulches. The main principle the cedar mulch follows in killing weeds is that it stops their photosynthesis and germination cycles. As weeds need these basic cycles to survive, they eventually die. Mulch blocks the air and sunlight coming to the weeds and that’s where weeds cannot get it enough to survive.

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100% Natural Cedar Shavings | Mulch | Great for Outdoors or Indoor Potted Plants | Dog Bedding (16 Quart)
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100% Natural Cedar Shavings | Mulch | Great for Outdoors or Indoor Potted Plants | Dog Bedding (16 Quart)
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Maintains Soil Temperature

When you mulch in spring, it becomes perfect for your soil and plant roots to survive under the harsh conditions of summer. Cedar mulch absorbs the summer heat and doesn’t let it go down to the roots of the plants. This way your trees and plants can survive in hot summers.

Makes Bed Attractive

As explained earlier, cedar mulch is reddish in color, so it looks great on your lawn, sideways, around trees,s, and walls. It brings an appealing sight to the eyes due to its color combo characteristics.

Insects and Bugs Repellant

Cedar mulch repels insects and bugs as it contains carbon which doesn’t let insects breathe. This way it becomes a great repellant when you use it around the tree.

A Long Lasting Mulch

Cedar mulch lasts for many years. To close, it can last for 4-5 years. Actually, cedar mulch is a part of tree bark that breaks down and decomposes on its own, but this process takes years to complete. However, you can always replace old mulch with new mulch.

Prevent Fungal and Bacterial Growth

Cedar mulch contains Thujaplicin, an element in it that is antifungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant. Cedar mulch is not good for fungal and bacterial growth as it absorbs moister and doesn’t let enough water available for bacterial and fungal growth.

Con’s Of Using Cedar Mulch – Cedar Mulch Problems

Acidic Nature

Is cedar mulch acidic?

Cedar mulch releases a certain amount of acid into the soil when you spread it on the soil. But it doesn’t make the soil acidic. However, you can say, it increases the acidity of an already acidic soil as it lowers the ph of the soil.

pH is used to determine whether the soil is acidic or alkaline. The pH of neutral soil is about 7.0; anything higher or lower is alkaline or acidic. Additionally, this is untrue despite the misconception that cedar mulch causes soil to become acidic via lowering pH.

Pine needles, cedar chips, and leaves are often regarded as acidic-natured mulches.

Color Fading Over Time

As mentioned earlier, cedar decomposes over that and start mixing in the soil. This way it also loses it color over time. To tackle this, you got to replace first layer of mulch with new cedar mulch.

Bad Odor Over Time

Cedar mulch can be bad for people that has fragrance allergy. It has a smell of rotten wood bark. Which some people may perceive unattractive or irritative.

Nitrogen Depletion and Roots Killing

Roots of plants needs nitrogen to survive in order to carry out their nitrogen cycle. Cedar mulch has carbon in it that bind with nitrogen and makes it unavailable to the plant roots and nitrogen fixing bacteria that results in death of plant root and whole plant start wilting.

Beneficial Bugs

As cedar mulch repels bugs you may face problem of getting beneficial bugs repelling away in your garden. Bugs like Ladybirds, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, bees, and parasitic wasps cannot survive where cedar mulch is. So, you better think of cedar mulch laying where it doesn’t hurt beneficial insects and bugs.

An Expensive Mulch

Cedar mulch decomposes over time, and you have to repair your mulch by replacing the first layer with the new cedar mulch this way cedar mulch becomes expensive. More to add, cedar mulch needs to be thick in order to stops weeds. So adding more layer to get optimum thickness also means using of more mulch which adds more to the cost of using cedar mulch.

Water Maximization in Soil

Sometimes your soil has enough moisture and if you lay down cedar mulch on that soil, the soil moisture level increases, which results in roots rotting and bacterial attacks on the roots of plants. Which results in wet muddy conditions that no gardener or landscaper will like.

Summary of Cedar Mulch Pros and Cons

  • Controls soil temperature
  • Minimizes loss of soil moisture
  • Decreases the possibility that weeds may grow
  • Keeps bugs away
  • Pleasant odor of wood bark
  • Makes garden bed attractive
  • Durable and won’t need frequent replacement
  • Prevent fungal and bacterial growth
  • Some individuals may find the odor repulsive
  • The nitrogen in the soil may be depleted
  • It may make beneficial insects less likely to live in your garden
  • It may increase the acidity of the soil
  • Generally expensive type of mulch
  • It loses its color over time

How to Use Cedar Mulch Around Gardens or Trees?

You can follow the instructions below to use cedar mulch in the garden?

  • First calculate the area and how much mulch do you need to cover the area.
  • To calculate how much cedar mulch you need you can use mulch calculator. Just to give you an idea, you will need 2.5 cubic feet of cedar mulch for every 10 square feet of area.
  • Then clear out the weeds and grass if any. You can clear out weeds with preen also, as it is a good weed killer to make you sure, weeds won’t grow back.
  • After this, water the soil, so it settles down and upper layer become ready for laying cedar mulch.
  • Now lay down an even layer of 3-inch-thick cedar mulch on all the area.
  • After this, make levels equal on soil and also keep in mind that you should not be laying any cedar mulch near the main stem of your plant, hurbs or shrubs. Always lay down mulch 1 foot away from the main stem or trunk of plant or tree.

Where You Should Use Cedar Mulch

When You Should Not Use Cedar Mulch

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cedar mulch good for?

Cedar is a beneficial wood for mulch in gardens because of its pest-repelling qualities and attractive aroma. Despite being beneficial for annual plants and vegetables, cedar mulch shouldn’t work into the soil at the conclusion or beginning of each gardening season. Cedar mulch may be beneficial for various reasons, both practical and ornamental. It is most often used for weeding control, soil insulating, enhancing the appearance of beds, and insect repelling.

Is cedar mulch good for plants?

Recent studies indicate that cedar benefits plants rather than harming them. Along with weed control, controlling soil temperature, and lowering water evaporation, mulch also has the advantage of repelling compounds that keep bugs, fungi, and germs away. Your plants will thrive all year long in a more consistent environment thanks to adding cedar mulch to the soil. Most plants do not like having their roots fried in the summer heat, and cedar mulch may help avoid this by effectively shading the soil and preventing it from being too hot.

Is cedar mulch good for flower beds?

You can use cedar mulch around the perennial flower beds but using it as a fertilizing purpose in the flowers beds is not a good practice. Which means you should not mix it up with the soil, instead spread it on the soil around the flowers.

Is cedar mulch good for roses?

Cedar mulch is good for roses. Rose-friendly organic mulch cedar mulch is a different kind that may use with roses. Shredded cedar mulch may be fluffed up and moved a little during the season to maintain its attractive appearance.

Is cedar mulch good for gardens?

Recent studies indicate that cedar benefits plants rather than harming them. It can be use where you need to stop weeds and take organic benefits. As cedar decays over time, it enriches the soil with nutrients become cedar mulch is itself a good organic material.

How long does cedar mulch last?

Cedar mulch is a type of organic mulch that originated from wood bark that contains Plicatic Acid which helps it to decompose slowly over time. It usually takes 4-5 years to decompose completely and naturally. So, you can say cedar mulch lasts for 4-5 days. In simple words you lose one kg bag per meter square each year. The best practice is to remove first 2-inch layer from already laid cedar mulch and add new cedar mulch there each year. This way your cedar mulch can survive for 6-7 years.

Does cedar mulch repel butterflies?

Cedar mulch does not repel a fully grown butterfly. As the cedar mulch is laid on the soil so it doesn’t affect butterflies residing on plant’s branches and leaves. More to add, butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of the plant and their caterpillar (larva of butterfly) grows on the leaves so there are very less chances it will be killed by cedar mulch. If by any chance, butterfly lays their eggs on the cedar mulch, they may not survive but it never happens.

Does cedar mulch repel bugs?

If you’re looking to keep bugs at bay in your garden, you might have heard that cedar mulch is the answer to all your prayers. But is this just an old wives’ tale, or is there some truth to the claim that cedar mulch repels bugs? The answer, my friends, is a bit of both.

While cedar does contain natural oils that are known to repel certain insects, it’s important to remember that it’s not a foolproof solution. In other words, don’t throw out your bug spray just yet!

However, if you’re looking for an added layer of protection for your plants, cedar mulch can certainly help keep some unwanted guests at bay. So go ahead, spread that cedar mulch with confidence, and enjoy a bug-free garden…or at least a slightly less buggy one!


For garden soil, cedar mulch is a top organic dressing with several advantages for home gardeners. Cedar mulch is undoubtedly well-liked and often used mulch, particularly when you consider how beautiful and durable it is, with moisture retention and soil temperature control among its most significant purposes. Before choosing to use cedar mulch, there are specific scenarios in which it is not the ideal choice. You should think about them and apply them to your case. It is often trouble-free and has much more advantages than disadvantages.

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After doing my master’s in agriculture, I went on with this field for more than 15 years because I love working in green. I have experienced using modern machinery and techniques that can help farmers and landscapers to achieve something great. My goal will be to deliver you the best reviews and information to make the right decision.

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