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An Expert Guide to Different Types of Mulch and How Mulch Can Be Used

What Is Mulch?

Mulch is any organic material, such a tree bark, rotted food or horse manure used around plants, shrubs and trees to encourage growth. It can also be used on the soil itself to improve the texture and to reduce erosion, preserve water, insulate the soil from variations in temperature and suppress weed growth. Another advantage is that it will make a soil bed look more attractive.  

We stock a huge range of functional and decorative mulches, as well as specially-formulated soil conditioners and composts exclusive to Madingley Mulch. These include our best-selling Denise’s Delight and Tony’s Tonic. We provide mulch and compost delivery in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and the rest of East Anglia. All our mulches are sourced locally in East Anglia and/or FSC-certified.

Types of Mulch

  • Garden Compost

Any well-rotted organic matter on your compost heap can be used as mulch in the garden. Scraps of food collected and rotted over time is the best all-purpose form of mulch but is often in short supply. It’s also not always the most attractive mulch, but quickly merges into the soil.

An 8cm-thick layer of this mulch will conserve water and should raise the temperature of the soil surface by several degrees. This type of material provides long-lasting nutrients and significantly improves the soil texture. We supply composts and soil conditioners including spent mushroom compost, which is especially good if you are looking to grow flowers or root crops.

  • Horse Manure

Horse manure that has been well-rotted (for six months or more) makes a fantastic mulch that will naturally break down into the soil, adding nutrients and improving the texture of the soil. Our own best-selling Denise’s Delight soil conditioner is a unique blend of well-rotted manure, Black Fen soil, wood shavings and humus and plant extracts, which is ideal for use in raised beds.

  • Chipped Bark & Wood Chip

Barks and wood chips are some of the most popular mulches, since they are the most attractive and affordable. Because bark mulch breaks down very slowly, it only needs to be topped up once every two to three years. Barks and wood chips do an excellent job of suppressing existing weed growth and stopping new weeds from rooting.

If you lay an 8cm-thick layer, this will help to conserve water and increase the soil surface’s temperature by a degree or two. Looking ahead, over several years, wood and bark chip will add a low level of nutrients to the soil and improve its texture.

We provide both decorative mulch and garden pathway chips. Our range of decorative mulch is an FSC-certified softwood chipped product. It comes with a play-grade certificate, making it ideal for busy playgrounds, as well as domestic gardens. Our pathway chips are large, light-coloured pieces of softwood, suitable for garden paths and recreation areas.

  • Grass Clippings

Grass clippings are in plentiful supply during the summer months and, while they are not suitable for mulching entire gardens, they are ideal for localised mulching around trees or plants. Grass clippings suppress weeds, conserve water and provide nutrients. However, they will not raise the temperature of the soil or improve the texture.

When to Apply Mulch

It’s best to apply mulches from mid-to-late spring and in the autumn, when the soil is warm and moist. Avoid spreading mulch when the soil is hard and cold in the winter, or when it is dry during the summer.

It is also best not to apply manure-based composts where you are planning to grow potatoes or other root vegetables, such as carrots, swedes and turnips, the following year.

How Much to Apply

We recommend an 8cm / 3ins covering of mulch. If you’re unsure of how much bark or wood chip you require for your garden, you can use our handy free calculator to estimate exactly how much you’ll need.

As suppliers of mulches, composts and soil conditioners in Cambridge and the surrounding areas, Madingley Mulch are more than happy to answer any questions you have about mulch and advise on which type of mulch is best for you and your garden. We provide mulch and compost delivery in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and the rest of East Anglia, in large bulk bags or loose to suit your requirements. Delivery of most products, except loose loads, is free within a 15-mile radius, including Huntingdon, St Ives, Ely, Newmarket and Cambourne. Speak to one of our friendly team today on 01954 212144.


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Prices slashed!

All bags reduced by a minimum of £10

Plus 10% off when ordering 4 + bags

Check out our current offers!