Laying mulch around your plants and trees makes good gardening sense. Mulch helps the soil retain moisture by as much as 25 percent and acts as a barrier between the plant's leaves and the soil, helping to avoid soil-borne diseases. Pine bark and cedar mulches are both organic mulches derived from trees. While similar in some ways, each has its own specific characteristics that may make one preferable over the other, depending on your needs.
Compare the longevity of pine bark and cedar mulch. Both of these mulching materials are considered long lasting.
Analyze the color retention of both materials. Pine bark mulch retained its color longer than most materials, organic or inorganic, in a six-month study, reports the University of Florida IFAS Extension. Cedar mulch often turns gray faster than other organic mulches.
Compare the rate at which each mulch breaks down into the soil. Pine bark mulch is used as a soil conditioner because it breaks down quicker. Cedar mulch is slow to break down and will not improve soil conditions for quickly.
Consider the uses for each mulching material. Both pine bark mulch and cedar mulch are used to control weeds in gardens, retain soil moisture and improve the aesthetics of gardens and flower beds. Additionally, aromatic cedar mulch is used as an insect repellent, while pine bark mulch has no insecticidal properties.