Cedar Mulch vs. Hardwood Mulch

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Mulches improve the garden in a variety of ways, including aesthetically. Mulch use controls weed growth, prevents water loss, enriches the soil with nutrients, and guards against erosion. Mulch also maintains a consistent soil temperature and lessens soil compaction. Mulches, which can be either organic or inorganic, are a valuable way to put leftover materials to use.

Mulches made of inorganic materials include plastic fabrics, ground tires, black plastic, rocks, and soil fabric. Organic mulches often contain biodegradable yard waste, such as wood chips and bark or leaves and grass clippings.

So here, I am going to first talk about hardwood and cedar mulch which are organic in nature. How they are good in certain aspects and how they are bad.

First Lets know what these two mulches are:

What is Cedar Mulch?

Cedar mulch is a type of organic mulch obtained from the bark of a cedar tree and shredded down into small pieces so you can spread it on the soil.

Cedar Mulch
cedar mulch in packet
9.4/10 Customer Score

Best Features:

  • 100% Natural Cedar; Use with your outdoor and indoor plants; will hold moisture in!
  • Use as an air freshener; natural subtle cedar scent; Refill your cedar sachet bags; Made in USA
  • Put in animal bedding; Put in kitty litter; absorbs smelly odors
  • Great for hanging planters, essential home accessories

What is Hardwood Mulch?

Hardwood mulch is a mulch made from maple and oaks. The pieces obtained from the maple and oaks are shredded into small pieces which are the perfect choice for landscapes.

Hardwood Mulch
Hardwood mulch in packet
8.0/10 Customer Score

Best Features:

  • Gives any landscape a finished look and feel
  • Controls moisture to help reduce water use and regulates soil temperature
  • Premium hardwood mulch
  • Seasonal color for 1 year
  • Product is available in 3 colors: black, red, brown

So, the main difference between cedar and hardwood mulch is their origin. Cedar mulch is extracted from the cedar trees and hardwood mulch is extracted from maple and oaks.

Let’s further get into details:

Cedar Mulch vs Hardwood

From the quick recap of what hardwood and cedar mulch are, let’s discuss some facts based on which hardwood and cedar mulch differ.

1. Decomposition Speed

Mulches manufactured from cedar, redwood, and other similar materials decompose at a languid pace.

Cedar mulch made decays more slowly.


Hardwood mulch decomposes more slowly than cedar mulch.

The increased danger of nitrogen binding, which may deprive plants of essential nutrients, makes it a more effective composting medium.

2. Visual Appeal

Mulches may be utilized for aesthetic purposes, protecting plants, minimizing erosion, and suppressing weed development.

The natural color of cedar mulch is often reddish-brown which looks good with white, grey, or yellow house colors.


Hardwood mulches are made from hickory, oak, and several other kinds of wood and barks, hardwood goods have a wide range of hues. Certain hardwood mulches have been vat-dyed to achieve a similar hue. However, they may seem unnatural. Hardwood color is more brownish which looks good on lawns and near grey walls of house.

Both cedar and hardwood gradually become silvery-gray over time.

3. Growth Suppression

Depending on the wood species and the mulch’s structure, certain woods can hinder plant development when used as mulch.

Mulches made of cedar stunt plant development and even poison plants. The natural compounds that boost cedar sawdust’s resistance to rot and insects may hinder plant development, although they are often safe in chipped or shredded mulches.


Hardwood species, particularly young ones, slow down other plants’ development. Eucalyptus and black walnut are a few of them.

When mulching young annual plants, stay away from this kind. Inhibitory elements in mulch are often not effective against mature plants and bushes.

4. Flammability

Mulches of various types may be a fire risk, particularly in arid locations vulnerable to wildfires. Mulches made of cedar and hardwood might be dangerous. Composting makes the same woodlands far less dangerous.

Advantages of Hardwood and Cedar Mulch

Hardwood mulch lasts longer. Where cedar mulch lasts even longer than hardwood mulch.

Both cedar and hardwood mulches are excellent choice for hilly areas as their size of pieces is small which holds well on the slopy lands or hilly areas.

Mulches constructed of cedar, redwood, and related materials decompose more slowly than other types and are very insect-resistant. Mulch made of hardwood decomposes faster than softwoods like cedar and pine.

In short, cedar mulch pros are more compared to hardwood mulch

here is the summary of the advantages of hardwood and cedar mulch in a more comparative way:

Advantages of Hardwood Mulch
  • Landscape beds may seem extremely natural and attractive, thanks to the pieces of varying sizes of hardwood mulch
  • Hardwood mulch protects the soil from evaporation; it is very effective at preserving water.
  • The accessibility of hardwood bark mulch is yet another fantastic feature.
Advantages of Cedar Mulch
  • The visual appeal and pest-repulsion ability of cedar mulch are its two main advantages.
  • There’s no disputing how excellent cedar mulch smells and looks.
  • The cedar mulch also performs a fantastic job warding off dangerous pests like termites.

Disadvantages of Hardwood and Cedar Mulch

Hardwood mulch changes the pH of the soil to alkaline which is not good for most plants to grow. You can tackle this problem by using 3 lbs. of sulfur per cubic yard of bark or per 100 square feet of bed.

Where, cedar mulch adds acid to the soil, making acidic soil more acidic which is also not good for plant growth.

Hardwood mulch when laid down on the soil, pieces stick together making a compact layer over the soil and this layer doesn’t let any water gets in or out. So, your soil stays dry and becomes barren for plant growth.

Where cedar mulch also does let the water go inside and out.

Hardwood doesn’t repel beneficial bugs whereas cedar mulch repels beneficial bugs.

Both hardwood and cedar mulch bind with the nitrogen of soil and make it unavailable for plant growth, so always use it on the soil where you are not planning of planting some grass or plants.

here is the summary of the disadvantages of hardwood and cedar mulch in a more comparative way:

Disadvantages of Hardwood Mulch
  • Hardwood mulch often has an alkaline pH, which may alter the soil’s pH over time.
  • Hardwood mulch works well on uneven terrain because it compacts effectively.
  • Microorganisms that compete with plants for nutrients are produced due to delayed degradation.
  • Hardwood mulch lasts a long time in the landscape and is finely crushed.
Disadvantages of Cedar Mulch
  • Cedar’s deep golden hue is transient and will fade fast.
  • Cedar mulch has a long lifespan and does not enrich the soil with nutrients; cedar-mulched beds will need more regular fertilization.
  • Cedar mulch has a long lifespan and does not enrich the soil with nutrients; cedar-mulched beds will need more regular fertilization.
  • Compared to hardwood mulch, cedar mulch is a stringy shredded wood product.

Also, cedar mulch is often compared with cypress mulch, but in terms of comparison with both cypress and hardwood mulch, cedar mulch is totally preferable choice.

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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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