As any gardener or homeowner with a yard knows, mulch is an important part of landscaping.
Besides being aesthetically pleasing, mulch can also help improve soil health and increase the amount of moisture in the soil.
Some might even consider mulch essential to any garden.
That said, buying mulch is often expensive.
Considering mulch is usually just made of organic matter, you may wonder why it’s so expensive.
Why Is Mulch So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of mulch is between $15 and $150 per cubic foot.
Mulch is expensive depending on the type of mulch you use, the size of the project, and whether you’re having it delivered and laid or not.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Not Buying It In Bulk
Mulch can be expensive when it’s not bought in bulk.
If you want to save money, then you should buy mulch in bulk.
Bulk purchases are usually cheaper than buying a few bags at a time.
Even if that’s not the case where you shop, most stores offer some sort of discount if you buy mulch in bulk.
Even if you don’t need a lot of mulch, it’s still worth buying it in bulk.
You can always safely store it somewhere and use it to refresh your mulch the following year.
Most mulch companies price their mulch with bulk buyers in mind.
If you buy packaged mulch products instead of bulk mulch, then you’re going to face higher costs.
That’s because bagged mulch is priced high to help companies cover production costs.
Mulch is expensive when you don’t buy it in bulk.
2. Installation Costs
Another big factor that makes mulch expensive is when you have someone lay it for you.
There certainly are benefits to having a landscaper install the mulch for you.
For one, they’re familiar with the product.
They know what types are best for certain settings and can help you decide how best to use them.
For example, you might have one idea, but their expert idea might be better.
They might even be able to suggest the type of plants or flowers that you should plant with the specific mulch that you purchased.
Professional installation also usually includes cleanup.
Without that service, you’re going to have to spend time removing any debris from your grass or along your sidewalk.
A professional installation handles all the cleanup for you.
The problem with installation services is that they cost money.
After you buy the mulch, in most cases, you also have to purchase a separate installation service.
Some companies might charge by the hour while others might charge a flat fee.
If you have a large area where you need mulch, then you can expect an expensive price.
The number of workers can also make the price quite high.
The more wages you need to pay, the more expensive the service becomes.
Mulch is expensive because the installation fee is usually expensive.
3. Delivery Costs
Along with the installation fee, you usually have to pay some sort of delivery fee, too.
Mulch can be pretty heavy, especially when you’re buying a lot of it.
As such, it costs the company a bit of money to deliver the mulch to your home.
If you have bought more mulch than the truck can hold, you may need multiple deliveries.
As such, they typically charge for each delivery.
You won’t be sharing the cost with others since each delivery contains your mulch.
Delivery also takes some time.
The company has to load up the truck with the appropriate amount of mulch.
Then they need to drive to your home.
Once they arrive, they need to dump the mulch in a work area or have their workers remove the packages.
Then they need to drive all the way back to their store or warehouse.
A few factors can also influence the price of your delivery fee.
For one, if you live far from the company, then you’re probably going to have a high delivery fee.
The further away you are from the store, the more expensive it is to have mulch delivered.
The size of your mulch load can also play a factor.
If they’re unable to fit another order on the truck because you have a lot of mulch, then they’re going to charge you for it.
Finally, the price of fuel can also impact your delivery fee.
If fuel is expensive, then they’re going to need to offset that cost with higher delivery charges.
Mulch is expensive because delivery fees can be expensive.
4. Size Of Yard Or Garden
Another major factor that can make your mulch expensive is the size of your yard or garden.
Depending on the project, you might need a lot of mulch.
If you’re only building a small garden, then you might find that your mulch costs are quite low.
If you’re covering half your yard in mulch or using it to make a very long walkway, then you’re probably going to need a lot of mulch.
As a result, your mulch costs are going to be far higher.
The size of your project matters because it determines how much mulch you need.
Since companies measure mulch out by the cubic yard or foot, you’re charged accordingly.
Bigger projects also take longer to complete.
That means if you’re hiring people to install the mulch for you, then it’s going to take them longer.
That could impact how much you have to pay them.
A larger load of mulch can also impact your delivery fee.
Mulch is expensive when you have a large project to complete.
5. Dyed Mulch
Another reason mulch is expensive is that dyed options are available.
One of the most popular types of mulch has color to it.
For example, you can buy red mulch, green mulch, dark brown mulch, black mulch, or an assortment of other colors.
The reason why some people buy colored mulch is that it adds some personality and uniqueness to their gardens.
Having black mulch, for example, can really highlight certain plants.
Red mulch, on the other hand, might make a home look family-friendly.
The problem with colored mulch is that it’s more expensive than standard mulch.
That’s because colored mulch has to go through a dyeing process.
It takes a bit of time for the mulch to become colored since the pigments need to seep into the wood.
As such, the cost of producing dyed mulch is higher than basic mulch.
There’s also a bit more demand for colored mulch since it adds some personality to gardens.
Mulch is expensive because colored mulch costs more money to make.
6. Cypress Mulch’s Insect-Repellant Capability
The type of mulch that you buy can also play a role in its cost.
One of the most expensive types of mulch comes from the cypress tree.
Cypress is a highly desired mulch because of its ability to naturally repel insects.
As anyone who has a garden knows, keeping insects out of the garden is important.
Bugs can chew on your flowers and ruin their appearance.
For those who are growing vegetables and fruits, bugs can completely destroy your yield.
As such, having cypress mulch can help keep your garden safe without relying on chemicals.
Because it’s popular for this natural trait, cypress trees tend to be in huge demand.
They’re not used just for mulch.
Mulch companies have to pay a good amount of money to get their hands on cypress trees to make their mulch.
They then pass those costs on to the buyer.
Mulch is expensive when it’s made from cypress because cypress trees are in high demand.
7. Organic Mulch
You may sometimes see mulch with an organic label on it.
This type of mulch isn’t typically made of ground wood.
Instead, it is made of ingredients like straw, hay, cut grass, leaves, types of grain, and cover crops.
They tend to be more expensive because they also help nourish the soil.
Organic mulch doesn’t last long.
It breaks down quickly and provides nutrients to the soil.
As a result, the plants in the garden flourish.
Vegetables grow well and are healthy.
The problem with using organic mulch is that it tends to be more expensive than some types of basic wood mulch.
That’s because organic mulch usually requires farmers or gardeners to grow and collect the ingredients.
Farmers need to sort out the straw and hay to make organic mulch.
Some might also specifically grow cover cops to make mulch.
The cost of farming those crops might be a bit higher than just shredding a tree.
To offset the costs, they charge more expensive prices for their mulch.
Others might perform additional treatments to their mulch products to make them more nutritious for the soil.
You can also make your own organic mulch which is practically free.
If you mow your lawn, then you can use the cut grass as organic mulch.
The same goes for freshly raked leaves.
If you buy organic mulch, on the other hand, then you’re going to see some expensive prices.
Mulch is expensive because organic mulch is a bit more expensive to make depending on the ingredients used in it.
8. Additional Mulching Sheet Costs
Depending on your garden, you might need more than just standard mulch.
Mulch is useful for nourishing the soil of your garden, increasing its aesthetic appeal, and reducing the chances of weed growth.
However, you might find that weeds are still a problem in your garden.
Instead of spraying weedkiller, you might want to consider installing mulch sheets in addition to mulch.
Mulch sheets sit beneath your mulch cover.
They cover the ground and keep weeds from growing through them.
They can also help absorb water to ensure your flowers stay hydrated.
The problem with mulch sheets is that they’re a bit pricey.
You’re essentially buying a denser version of mulch.
It isn’t loose like standard mulch.
Adding sheets to your cover mulch purchase can make the price expensive.
Mulch is expensive when you also need to buy and use mulch sheets.
9. Cedar Mulch Benefits
Besides cypress, another popular wood used for mulch is cedar.
Like cypress, cedar offers benefits, too.
Some of its biggest benefits include:
- Better water retention
- Insect repellant
- Pleasant aroma
Because of its benefits, cedar mulch is often in high demand.
Since it’s in high demand, the price for cedar mulch tends to be on the higher side.
Mulch is expensive when you’re using a high-demand type of mulch like cedar.
10. High Demand Due To Benefits
High demand also makes mulch expensive.
Mulch is more popular than ever among gardeners.
Besides providing health benefits to gardens, it also looks aesthetically pleasing.
Even people without plants sometimes use mulch to line walkways and paths.
As more and more people start growing small gardens at home, the need for mulch increases.
Yet, with lumber prices increasing, it means the price of mulch increases, too.
As the demand for mulch increases, the price increases as well.
Mulch is expensive because of the high demand among gardeners and homeowners.