How to Use Cedar Mulch


Cedar mulch provides a host of benefits to the home garden. According to Iowa State University Extension, mulch controls weeds, retains soil moisture and reduces erosion. When used under fruits and vegetables, it prevents soil from splashing back onto the developing fruit when it rains; reducing the contact with soil-borne organisms that cause disease or damage to plants. Cedar mulch provides more than health benefits to plants--it creates an attractive backdrop to green vegetation, giving the garden a manicured look. Although its color fades as it weathers, cedar mulch retains its overall appeal for several years.

Step 1

Apply cedar mulch to perennial beds by layering small chips or bark to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Apply larger chips in a 3- to 4-inch layer. Leave 2 to 3 inches of bare soil around the base of the plant to allow for growth. Reapply mulch in the spring to maintain the desired level of mulch.

Step 2

Spread cedar mulch around the base of trees and shrubs, leaving 6 inches of bare soil around the trunk of the tree. According to the University of Colorado, mulch that touches the trunk of the tree or shrub can cause problems with bark formation on the tree and may interfere with the natural taper of the trunk. Follow the same depth guidelines as outlined for perennial beds.

Step 3

Add cedar mulch to the garden under large plants like tomatoes. Not only does the mulch keep the soil moist, it reduces the risk of blight, which can destroy your tomatoes. Blight spores survive in the soil and often splash onto the foliage during heavy rains. Cedar mulch prevents these organisms from contacting the plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid mulching areas that do not drain well, as mulch holds in moisture. Without proper drainage, plants become choked for oxygen and cannot survive. Soggy soil also promotes root rot. Avoid windy areas, as cedar chips may be blown away from the desired site.

Things You'll Need

  • Cedar mulch
  • Spade/garden fork
  • Garden rake


  • Iowa State University: Organic Mulches
  • Colorado State University Extension: Mulching with Wood/Bark Chips, Grass Clippings, and Rock

Who Can Help

  • Michigan State University Extension: Mulches in the Landscape
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About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.