The use of cedar mulch in gardens is quite popular because it keeps plants, trees, and flowers healthy while also looking really attractive.
There are many benefits to using cedar mulch in your garden, but also a number of drawbacks.
In this article, I’ll share with you all the reasons you should definitely consider using no other mulch, and a few reasons why you may want to skip cedar mulch.
Pros and Cons of Using Cedar Mulch
Cedar mulch helps soil to retain its moisture and goes a long way to regulating soil temperature. Hence, it’s a good option for any garden type. However, cedar mulch is more expensive than other options and can have a negative effect on the pH level of your soil.
What Cedar Mulch Is
As you may have guessed, cedar mulch is made from cedar, particularly branches from cedar trees.
However, cedar mulch can be made from any part of the tree, which is then shredded or chipped so it can be used in any garden as mulch.
Pros and Cons of Using Cedar Mulch
Let’s get right into the reason you’re here: why you should use cedar mulch, and why you may want to use an alternative.
1. Helps Soil Retain Moisture
Cedar mulch is great at helping the soil to retain moisture, which any gardener will tell you is a good thing.
By preventing evaporation, the soil is kept moist enough to keep your plants nicely hydrated.
This retention means you won’t have to water your plants as often either. Cedar mulch is especially popular in hot and dry areas where moisture is very important.
2. Stabilizes Soil Temperature
Cedar mulch forms a good barrier between the soil and the air, which means the soil temperature is regulated more effectively.
Stabilized soil temperature is always good for plants as they hate to be disrupted by extreme heat or cold.
This mulch is also really great at protecting plants’ roots during heat waves when the ground is exposed to high heat.
3. Helps Control Weeds
Weeds find it tricky to grow well in the dark, so cedar mulch can help keep your garden free of these nuisances.
It is a long-lasting way of controlling weeds in your garden.
The mulch will also make it difficult for weeds to take root because it forms a barrier between the soil and everything else. If some stubborn weeds do manage to grow, they’ll be easy to spot in the mulch.
4. Can Reduce Soil Loss
Because cedar mulch is able to help the soil preserve nutrients, soil loss is reduced.
Mulch protects the top layer of soil from humidity and wind, keeping those nutrients where they belong.
Additionally, cedar wood offers nutrients to the soil in the form of potassium, nitrogen, magnesium, carbon, and much more. The mulch also helps prevent erosion because of its protective layer.
5. Repels Insects
One of the biggest reasons cedar mulch is so popular is because of how effective it is at repelling insects and bugs.
Insects cannot stand the smell of cedar mulch, which means they flee from any garden that is mulched with this particular wood.
Termites are one of the most important insects that cedar mulch helps to repel, but it also helps to prevent mite infestations and doesn’t attract moths.
6. Results in Long-Lasting Garden Beds
Cedar mulch can take a very long time to break down, so it won’t have to be replaced for quite a while.
In fact, you could get away with using cedar mulch without replacing it for a number of years.
While straw and grass clippings break down quickly, cedar mulch will stick around much longer because of a chemical (thujaplicin) it contains that is mold — and bacteria-resistant.
7. Looks Nice
Although this isn’t a major motivation for using cedar mulch, it looks good in any garden, regardless of the theme or aesthetics you’re trying to achieve.
It offers a natural color that most other mulch options don’t have.
Although the color of cedar wood varies, you’ll typically find that cedar mulch is red or orange in color, adding a feeling of warmth to garden beds.
1. Repels Beneficial Insects
Although I listed the ability to deter bugs and insects as a pro, it can be a con as well.
Cedar mulch can chase off beneficial insects and pollinators — not really something you’d want. This repellant ability goes against your garden’s ecosystem, but won’t affect it so much that your garden will die.
Still, if it’s important to you that your garden is a haven for insects, you may want to use different mulch.
2. Can Release Acetic Acid
Cedar mulch might release acetic acid that could negatively affect your plants.
However, this will only happen if the mulch isn’t kept at an ideal storage height, so if you research how to use cedar mulch effectively, you should be fine.
This acid release could affect the pH level of your soil, so it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the health of your garden’s soil.
3. Possible Fragrance Allergies
This isn’t a common concern, but if you (or your family) suffer from fragrance allergies, you may have to avoid using cedar mulch.
It can have a strong odor and if you’re allergic, it can lead to skin irritation, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
4. Can Lead To Nitrogen Depletion
During its decomposition process, cedar mulch draws nitrogen from the soil. This can lead to nitrogen depletion and cause a lack of nutrients for growing plants.
Typically, the depletion will happen in the top layer of the soil that is exposed to the mulch.
However, this should not be a very big issue as cedar mulch won’t affect the soil where your plants’ roots are growing.
Just be careful that the mulch isn’t mixed into the layers of your soil. To prevent this problem, use a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
When compared to other mulch types, cedar mulch is quite expensive if you’re a gardener who is on a tight budget.
You’ll especially feel the cost if you’ll use cedar mulch for a large garden.
6. Too Much Moisture Retention
Because cedar mulch is so good at retaining moisture, it can also lead to boggy soil that drains poorly.
When there is too much moisture, the plants’ roots can rot, which is undesirable and can lead to the death of your garden.
To prevent this from happening, don’t use cedar mulch in areas where rain tends to pool.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Pros and Cons of Using Cedar Mulch
Is Cedar Mulch Better Than Regular Mulch?
Because it has so many benefits, yes, cedar mulch is considered much better than regular mulch. It lasts longer and looks more attractive too, giving your garden an appealing look and feel.
Is Cedar Mulch Toxic?
At this time, there is no evidence that cedar mulch is toxic to soil or plants.
Do Termites Eat Cedar Mulch?
Termites are any homeowner’s worst nightmare, but fortunately, cedar mulch won’t attract them. In fact, cedar mulch repels many pesky insects, including termites.
Keep Your Plants Healthy With Cedar Mulch
Cedar mulch is a great option when you want to use mulch in your garden. It offers many fantastic benefits and takes longer to break down.
Although there are drawbacks as well, I find that cedar mulch is the best option for a healthy and thriving garden.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.