Gardening enthusiasts need no introduction to the realm and vitality of mulching. It is vital to give your gardens that clean, aesthetic, and protective finished look.
Mulching goes a long way in order to achieve those and is a step that shouldn’t be missed out on. Anyone who has done the tiniest bit of research about enhancing their gardens, playgrounds, landscapes, etc. are sure to have bumped into the aspects of mulching.
There is a wide range of mulches to choose from, but one of the most popular ones is the black mulch; and believe me when I tell you, it’s all for the right reasons.
Using black mulch gives you access to some enhanced properties that other types fail to deliver. So bear with us till the end to know why it’s preferred and how to get the best black mulch for your needs.
What is Black Mulch and Why You Should Use It?
For some of us who are totally unfamiliar with what mulches are, you are about to be enlightened A-Z about all that you’ll ever need to know when making your purchase.
A mulch is basically a layer of either organic or inorganic substance that is placed on top of soil surfaces.
What is the Main Function?
Their main function is to enhance the soil quality & fertility, inhibit the growth of weeds, retain moisture, etc. And it ensures all these while saving your time and providing an elegant aesthetic appeal.
Other perks include protecting the soil surface from excessive sunlight and if organic, provide additional nutrients as well.
Out of all the mulches
Now out of all the mulches you could go for, you might be wondering what black mulches are and how they are better than the rest. Well, black mulches are actually like any regular mulch that has been dyed black with carbon-based dyes.
The purpose of black mulch dye is to ensure that the colors last longer against fading while offering some aesthetic appeal simultaneously.
Black mulches are more superior
Black mulches are far more superior to the other colors as they look more natural and fit into almost any environment.
They also significantly make your plants pop more into sight, enhancing the beauty of your garden, landscape, playground, etc.
And that too, by sufficiently suppressing the infestation of pests and weeds.
Since they look so much like soil from a distance,
even your gardeners or designers who dislike mulches due to their unnatural look are sure to love working with it. With such properties to make everyone happy, why go for other mulches, right?
What are the different types of mulch?
You can either opt for organic or inorganic mulches.
This type makes the best black mulch when it comes to safety. Organic mulches are free from contaminants and thus, a lot safer to use. Also, they break down naturally while adding more nutrients to the soil.
These mulches offer their own perks. Since they do not break down, they will last a lot longer without fading. As a result, you’ll find them a tad easier to maintain.
Some inorganic ones can absorb a cozy amount of heat during the day which they dissipate evenly during night-time.
Such an inorganic black mulch garden is an incredibly perfect environment for growing vegetables such as tomatoes or eggplants that love and need ample warmth.
What to Consider before Purchasing the Best Black Mulch?
Medium textured mulches are the most optimum option. This is because they can retain just the right amount of moisture/water while enabling the perfect amount to reach the soil evenly.
Too chunky or too coarse black mulches are not only unattractive to look at, but are also excessively porous. They will thus not be as effective in either retaining water or letting the right amount to reach the soil.
And just like too little water is not good for your soil and the plants, so is too much water. The risk of excessive water/moisture reaching the soil and plants makes coarse mulch quite complicated to work with.
Too fine a texture is no better either. This is mainly as they will absorb almost all the water/moisture and prevent them to reach the soil layer.
Issues and Troubles
Such an annoying issue will lead to two problems. First, your mulch will get clumpy and you’ll have to maintain it more frequently.
Secondly, the water will all evaporate away way too soon with barely reaching the soil, thus resulting in your soil and plants to become dehydrated.
Hence, choose the texture of the mulch depending on your requirements, climate, and environment. But if you’re confused, a medium-textured black mulch is almost always foolproof.
It is important to focus on what your black mulches are composed of-either organic or inorganic. Each material offers its own unique properties so choose one that matches your requirements.
Organic black mulches can be composed of pine barks, shredded wood, grass clippings, wood chippings, pine needles, straw, compost, leaves, etc.
Inorganic options include rubber, stone, paper, recycled tires, plastic, fabric roll of geotextile, gravel, etc.
The options are huge and opt for the material that will properly serve your plants, climate, humidity, aesthetics, maintenance, etc.
Some of the topmost black mulches include straw, compost, stone, shredded bark, pine needles, pebbles, wood chips, etc.
The black mulch you choose must not only work well and look good but also be safe to use. Ensure that the black color of the mulch has been derived from carbon-based compounds; not harmful chemicals.
While organic black mulches possess no harm, inorganic ones can be tricky. Since most are composed of recycled scraps, chances are, they haven’t been treated properly.
Works Against Harmful Chemicals
This leaves the possibility that contaminants such as harmful chemicals or other toxic substances might remain in the mulch. And if used, they are to cause more harm than good.
Either it will damage the plants or the quality of the soil. And if you’re growing edibles such as vegetables or fruits, the contaminants may seep into the plants and eventually into the fruits & vegetables.
Hence, it is absolutely critical that you confirm the safety of their usage by researching if they have been properly treated. And if possible, try sticking to the organic ones.
04. Aesthetic Appeal
Black mulches usually get priority over reddish ones. They look far more natural and have enhanced properties too.
Only choose reddish mulches if it harmonizes with your brick color, flower colors, etc.
The Visual Appeal
Texture plays a significant role in the visual appeal too as you want something that looks well-set and natural.
The last thing you want in your garden or landscape is a mess of chunky clutter that look like discarded scraps piled up.
So choose wisely accordingly.
Our Top 7 Best Black Mulches Review
01. Playsafer Rubber Mulch Nuggets
Composed of recycled rubber, this black mulch is the perfect solution to enhance the safety of your children’s play areas. It comes in the size of chunky nuggets and is certified by IPEMA to ensure its safeness to be used on playgrounds or other landscapes.
Each bag has a mass of 40 pounds which allows you to cover an area of 1.55 cubic feet effortlessly if layered within a standard 2-3 inches thickness.
Since this inorganic mulch is composed of rubber, it will not decay. Hence, it serves for years to come without requiring to re-mulch as often.
Why It is Ideal for Use?
The reason why it is ideal for use even in playgrounds is that it possesses an unbeatable capacity to absorb shocks and reduces the force of impacts.
As a result, kids can enjoy a safe playtime with lower chances of being injured. And even if they do get hurt, the severity is a lot lower than without the mulch.
99.9% Free from Metal
The product is 99.9% free from metal, adding more to its safety of use. It doesn’t get compressed either; thus giving more reasons to not needing re-mulching.
The black mulch dye used to color it is of stellar quality; guaranteed to last for up to a jaw-dropping 12 years!
Cost Effective Choice
So, with all these aspects combined, it is safe to say that this mulch is surely one of the most cost-effective choices you’d ever run into. These rubber nuggets dry up quickly and don’t get frozen even in the coldest of weather; thus making your play zones or landscapes fit for play at all times!
- 99.9% metal-free recycled rubber tire
- IPEMA certification for guaranteed safety
- Extremely durable with 12 years of color guarantee & cost-effective
- Shock-absorbent and reduces the severity of impacts
- Quick-dry and anti-freezing
02.Longleaf Pine Straw – Mulch
If you’re into organic mulches, this mulch by Colored Pine Straw has it all to become your perfect buy. There is a total of 5 bags per box. Each of them possesses the capacity to cover around 2 cubic feet given that you layer with a standard thickness of 2-3 inches.
The material is entirely composed of chopped longleaf pine straw that is 100% natural. Hence, it is incredibly safe to use without the existence of any harmful contaminants.
It will also add nutrients to your soil as it breaks down, providing your soil an extra boost!
A Dyed Black Mulch
Since it is a dyed black mulch, it lasts a whole lot longer, about 2-4 times more, than the natural mulches out there.
As a result, it is much less a hassle to maintain as you won’t be needing to re-mulch as often.
Works Against UV Radiation
The colorant is not only not toxic, but protects the straw against UV radiation like a sunscreen protects your skin. This plays a major role in making the color long-lasting.
The color is also amazingly natural-looking and will blend into your environment like it belongs there.
- Organic mulch composed of chopped longleaf pine straw
- Safe colorant that protects against UV radiation for long-lasting color
- Comes in a box of 5 packets that each can cover 2 cubic feet
- Great choice for smaller tree rings, gardens, courtyards & landscapes that are surrounded by sidewalks, pools, etc.
- Texture is finely chopped
03. Playsafer Black Rubber Mulch
We have discussed the Playesafer mulch previously. This one comes in a bundle of 50 packs of the same product altogether; each weighing 40 pounds. Each bag can cover an area of around 1.55 cubic feet.
Thus, a total of 50 bags will enable you to cover a huge area of around 77.5 cubic feet!
This basically means that with a total mass of 2000 pounds of this black rubber mulch, you’ll be able to cover an astounding 310 square feet (3-inch thick layer)!
It is the best black mulch bundle to score if you have professional or bulk requirements.
It is one of the most premium options to go for to ensure safety in sensitive areas such as playgrounds or other play areas.
This is because, composed of rubber nuggets of 1/2-5/8 inches, they are quite tough to beat when it comes to reducing impacts due to their stellar shock-absorbency.
To make things more convenient,
whether for playgrounds or other landscapes, these mulches dry up super-quick if drenched. It will ensure that your soil doesn’t get frozen either no matter how cold the weather gets.
A 99.9% Metal-free Product
This model of black mulch is composed of tire remnants that have been carefully recycled to ensure you with a 99.9% metal-free product.
It is amazingly effortless to maintain as not only will it not decompose, but the color is assured to last without fading for up to a phenomenal 12 years!
- Set of 50 bags each weighing 40 pounds (total 2000 pounds)
- Unbeatably effortless to maintain and color lasts for 12 years
- Rubber nuggets of 1/2-5/8 inches for absorbing shock-great for playgrounds
- Covers an area of a magnanimous 77.5 cubic feet if layered 3-inch thick
04. Plow & Hearth 55632 Permanent Garden Mulch Border
This product is sure to amp up your black mulch garden to a whole new level; and you’re about to find out why.
Composed of properly recycled rubber that has been shredded quite finely, this mulch border adds more to your garden or landscape soil than just aesthetics.
How Easy to Cut It?
You can easily cut it out to your desired shapes as you require. It looks like a mulch but comes with the added advantage of being resistant to scatter.
As a result, it stays put no matter how extreme the weather and requires no maintenance.
An lucrative Features
One of its most lucrative features is that it effectively inhibits the growth of weeds. But fear not as it perfectly lets air and water through, allowing the soil to breathe and hydrate.
All you have to do is roll it open and lay it as you please and cut it to fit as needed.
The Roll is Lightweight
This roll of mulch is amazingly lightweight with a mass of just 6 pounds and possesses dimensions of 122 x 4.5 x 0.63 inches. Feel free to add more rolls as you require based on the size of your garden or other landscapes as your desire.
Natural and Tidy
Not only does it look natural and tidy, but it lasts for ages to come as the color virtually does not fade even after years. And you can enjoy all these perks without ever having to maintain or re-do anything at all!
For a black mulch that has it all and requires no fuss, it certainly is a keeper of a choice to grab ASAP if you ask me!
- Shredded and recycled rubber composed mulch mat
- Inhibits weed growth but allows nutrients, air, and water through
- Stays in place looking as tidy as always regardless weather or other extremities
- You can easily cut it if needed to set it perfectly in the desired shape
- Long-lasting and requires zero-maintenance
05. Longleaf Pine Straw – Black Mulch
Another great choice for your bulky requirements as it comes as a pallet of 90 bags, each with a capacity to cover 2 cubic feet or 25 square feet.
As a result, with 90 bags altogether, laid 2-3 inches thick, it covers an outstanding 180 cubic feet; or 2250 square feet!
Capacity and Naturality
Now that the coverage capacity is dealt with, you need to know about its properties. For the pursuers of organic products, this mulch is a dream come true as it is composed of chopped longleaf pine straws that is natural by a 100%.
Its natural composition aids in it looking natural and aesthetic in your black mulch garden or other landscapes.
A Protective Shield
To keep the beauty alive longer, its colorant plays an incredible role as a protective shield against UV light as well. Whether for plant beds, courtyards, gardens, or surrounded landscapes such as sidewalks, pools, etc.
This is easily an ideal choice to go for to meet all your needs in terms of quality, aesthetics, safety, and more!
- Set of 90 bags of mulch
- Covers a total area of an awesome 2250 square feet when laid 2-3 inches thick
- Protection against UV radiation to prevent quick color fade
- 100% organic longleaf shredded pine straws
06. Goasis Heavy-Duty Lan Weed Barrier (Black)
Why It Stands Out to Us?
Goasis Lawn black mulch comes in an array of sizes that allows you to pick the one that matches your garden needs. And because it uses polypropylene woven material, weed smothering is guaranteed.
Also, this unique material is long-lasting. Even better, it’s UV resistant and corrosion-resistant. The breaking strength for this material is also on another level, as such, this unit can also be used in pathways and driveways.
This weed barrier is also water and air-permeable, meaning it offers a great way of smothering the weeds while not compromising the growth of the plants.
Aside from that, the thickness of this weed barrier is moderate, and cutting it through for your needs is easy using a knife or a scissor.
And for the weight, this unit is about 6.59 pounds, light enough to allow for easy carrying.
Our Experience with It
-This was the first weed barrier we tried, and without a doubt, it was a great experience. First, the installation process was easy, we didn’t need the invention of an expert. And what impressed us the most was the stripes that are 30cm apart, which allowed us to plant in a good alignment.
-Then for sturdiness and permeability, we liked this mulching material because it stayed intact on the ground while allowing water to sip in through it. Most interestingly, sunlight didn’t penetrate through the material thanks to the UV-resistant feature.
-We acquired also another one to lay on the walkway, and after three months, we noticed that it looks as good as new. No cracks, no wear nor tear. In our suggestion, this landscape fabric seems to be durable. In fact, on our pathways, we added gravel on top, it’s still strong.
What We Didn’t Like
- With a moderate thickness, we saw this mulch as not reliable as other thicker mulch like the Hoople weed barrier.
- We’ve noticed that a section of the mulch we used on the pathway has been punctured, maybe with the gravel we put on top of it
Who is this ideal for?
This landscape fabric is best for gardeners, homeowners, and anyone who needs to mulch his or her farm. It can be applied on raised beds, greenhouses, pathways, driveways, under decking, garden borders, etc.
What Could Be Improved
-The manufacturers could make this unit thicker
- Striped for hassle-free plant alignment
- Deliver superior light blocking
- Super easy to install
- Environmentally safe
- Designed to last
- Doesn’t allow free water passage
07. HOOPLE Heavy-Duty Garden Weed Barrier
Why It Stands Out to Us?
This black mulch is a superior quality landscape material with reliable construction. Unlike other weed barriers, this landscape fabric is ultra-thick – it is about three times thicker than several traditional mulch materials. And because of the significant thickness, you can comfortably use this unit on walkways since it can withstand heavy loads.
Even better, the Hoople garden weed barrier uses highly flexible nonwoven material. With that, this premium weed barrier is capable of also handling excessive weight.
In addition, it’s water-permeable to allow for the seamless flaw of water and air through – you don’t have to worry about water not reaching the roots of the plants. Further, its weight makes it stay on the ground to smoother weeds fully.
Apart from that, the UV protection feature will keep your plants from being damaged. Away from blocking the weed, Hoople Garden Weed Mulch will improve the appeal of your garden and lawn.
Our Experience with it
-We give it a plus for its thickness. At first, we thought it was too light, but compared to the Vigoro lawn cover that we initially tested, this one is even three times thicker. And during last summer, we managed to clear all the weeds with this mulching material.
-We were looking for a mulch material that was water-permeable while smothering the weeds. This unit was the one we chose, and after we planted onions on the holes we burned, we’re pleased to see the onions doing okay. That was not the end, all the weeds are blocked from growing. The water and air permeability also meant that we didn’t have to water right on the plant.
-We installed this mulch in a matter of minutes. We didn’t have any technical problems while spreading this in both our garden and our walkways.
-Then come to this other thing, how reliable could this mulch go? At first, we weren’t sure if it could last for three years, but five years down the line we are proud to report that it’s still working great. The material seems to have faded a bit but, for the years it has offered service, it’s a plus.
Why We didn’t Like
- After using it for a while now, the fabric seems to be fading
- Sometimes back we received a different landscape fabric that was very flimsy
Who is this ideal for?
Suitable for homeowners, gardeners, agriculturalists. It can be laid on a flower bed, vegetable patch, gravel, garden path, garden house, planting, driveway, artificial grass, etc.
What Could Be Improved?
-Could be designed to be more sun-resistant
-This weed barrier could be thicker
- Heavy-duty mulch fabric
- Easy to install
- Tend to fade after sometimes
Pros and Cons Of Using Black Mulch
- Looks more natural
- Significantly suppresses the growth of weeds
- Makes your plants pop, making them the center of attention
- Some are made of inorganic recycled materials which are eco-friendly
- Color lasts longer
- Allows water to penetrate and reach all parts of the soil equally
- Protect against erosion and soil-borne illnesses
- Maintains a consistent soil temperature
- Protects against pests/insects
- Significantly reduces evaporation
- Prevents fragile plants such as strawberries from rotting
- Protection against damage from lawnmowers
- Prevents soil from freezing during cold weather
- Not ideal for warmer climates due to its heat retention properties
- Inorganic ones may be contaminated and toxic
- Contaminants may get absorbed by your plants which can be harmful if those plants or their products are consumed
- Inorganic black mulches, such as of plastic, don’t decompose and hence, need to be moved around manually
- Can be smelly if composed of rubber
FAQs Regarding Mulches
1. Which Mulch Is Better-Black Or Red?
Well, that depends. Black mulches are the better option overall as they are much more natural-looking in comparison to red ones. And black mulches are much more in style while red ones are only a great option in specific cases.
If you have reddish brick houses, sheds outside colored red, yellow flower gardens, or schemes that are red-and-green, you could easily opt for red mulching as it will complement them quite nicely. Otherwise, black, or deep brown mulches are a winner all the way.
This is because not only does a black mulch garden tip the scales when it comes to aesthetics, they offer enhanced facilities too such as improved heat/moisture retention, weeds/pest prevention, etc. Their color also lasts longer than the rest, thus making it easier to maintain.
2. Are Dyed Mulches Safe?
They are safe to use given that they are organic. Even if that’s not the case, as long as the inorganic raw materials for dyed mulches are properly treated and free of contaminants, you’re good.
Also, ensure that they are dyed with harmless colors such as iron or carbon-based colors. As long as no toxic colorants are used, there’s no fear of harm.
Avoid unrealistically cheap mulches as they are more likely to be unsafe and conduct proper research about the brand and type you’re intending to purchase before finalizing the buy.
3. How Will I Identify A Good Mulch?
It has got a lot to do with your personal preferences and the requirements you need to it fulfill. Some signs of a good quality mulch include the following:
- Composed of organic material such as wood, straw, leaves, grass clippings, pine needles, straw, etc.
- Long-lasting color-the darker the better
- Easily available and affordable
- Medium or fine texture so that they smoothly break and blend with the soil well
- Low breakdown speed
- Provides nutrition to plants as well
- Not contaminated with harmful chemicals, dyes, or any other toxins
- Natural-looking or complementing to the environment
- Prevents the growth and infestation of insects
- Retains and distributes heat and water evenly
4. When And In What Quantity Should Mulch Be Used?
The timing of mulching is dependent on the type of plants in your garden such as if they are perennial, biennial, etc. You wouldn’t want to mulch too early or too late as that may hamper the growth of the plants.
You should also ensure that the soil has sufficient and required degree of dryness and heat before mulching. Do not mulch too close to the trunks of your plants as they need to have a little room to breathe.
About 2-3 inches of thickness should be more than adequate. And while working on the mulched areas, if some of the mulch shift and expose the soil area, just filling up the exposed area should be perfect.
In case of making new additions to your garden, landscape, or other soiled areas, get mulching once the addition is complete.
5. Should I Move The Mulch Layer Prior To Fertilizer Or Compost Addition?
This depends on the texture and breakdown properties of the mulch you have used. Organic mulches tend to break down over time while adding more nutrients to the soil. And if the texture is perfect, spreading your compost or fertilizer over the top mulch layer will get the job done.
But if the mulch layer seems too thick, doesn’t break down, doesn’t have the correct texture, or haven’t been composted, etc. that is when you need to do things separately. These issues may lead to your mulch be like a protective layer that doesn’t let anything solid through.
If that is the case, you’ll need to rake off part of the mulch layer before adding your soil boosters and then re-mulch over them.
6. How Can I Maintain My Mulch?
- Maintain the mulch color from time to time once it starts to fade by adding a thin layer to refresh. When it comes to longevity, black mulch dye lasts the longest
- If they seem to be rotting, replace the whole layer with a fresh layer of mulch
- Though the growth of weeds is significantly discouraged by mulches, take care of them as soon they start appearing
- Pluck of weeds as soon as they start sprouting, use herbicide spray if necessary
- Herbicides can be used to prevent the growth of weeds too
- Use landscape fabric when mulch has not been added yet or when the addition process is ongoing
- Drop mulches on developing weeds to cut off sunlight to inhibit their growth
- Turn & mix the mulch per season with a rake and replenish the layer if needed to maintain a thickness of 2-4 inches of mulch
- Ensure that the mulch is a few inches far from the trunks & stems of your plants as or else, their growth will be compromised
- Mulch at least twice a year and also when they are no longer effective. You’ll know they are no more usable when they turn to powder like dirt when you crumple them
- Prevent them from washing away by wind, rain, storm, etc. by creating edges around the areas and avoiding landscape fabric on areas that are sloped as they are slippery
- You can spray rubber mulches with water to clean the accumulated dirt on their surface
- Opt for setting up a barrier against weed before mulching for enjoying lower maintenance & convenience
It is surely evident by now that the black mulches open the door to an impeccable range of wonderful conveniences and protection.
And if you have held up with us till now, you have hopefully become quite the pro to confidently decide on what is the best black mulch for your garden or other landscape renovations.
All you need to know is which type will suit you the most to make your buy accordingly and you’ll be good to go with proper minimal maintenance.