Understanding when to use hardwood mulch, and knowing more about the different popular types of hardwood mulch, can add greatly to the potential for making mulch an active, useful part of a growing garden or landscape. Hardwood mulch is a specialized variety of mulch that will decompose more quickly than some other types of mulch; it is used to insulate growing seedlings, control weeds and pests in flower beds, lock in hydration and moisture for growing plants and trees, and provide warmth and protection from the elements for growing root systems.
Double Hammered Mulch is a fine mulch, made of double ground pieces of hardwood. Double Hammered Mulch is designed to aid in moisture retention in areas where soil erosion and poor drainage are problematic. Hardwood segments have a fine, smooth consistency that makes them well suited to control weeds and resist spreading. This is a great type of mulch to use on slopes as well.
Triple Hammered Mulch is an even finer version of Double Hammered Mulch, in that the individual pieces of hardwood have been further ground and processed into finer pieces that are dye-free and will blend into the soil as they break down.
Shredded Mulch is primarily used to lock in moisture and hydration in garden settings. Shredded Mulch has only been fed through a wood grinder once, so it retains a coarse consistency. Shredded Mulch is also an excellent choice to control weeds and limit runoff during hard rains. It does not decompose or scatter quickly and is very stable. For best results, experts recommend applying a minimum of three to four inches of shredded mulch to any garden environment.
Wood Chip Mulch is more compaction-resistant than the other types of mulch, and is a great choice for playgrounds, play areas, pathways, walkways, and other areas with heavy foot traffic and activity. Wood Chip Mulch is often not as readily available commercially as other types of mulch. Additionally, some Wood Chip Mulch will be mixed with both hardwood and softwood chips. Wood Chip Mulch tends to fade from brown to a silver or grey appearance, necessitating more frequent reapplication. Wood Chip Mulch also tends to blow away more readily than other types of hardwood mulch.
Processed Bark Mulch can be made from pure hardwood or a mixture of hardwood and softwood chips. When hardwood and softwood chips are mixed, the mulch tends to need less frequent reapplication. This is a very economical mulch that is a popular choice for garden and landscape projects.