The Cadillac of mulches is premium cypress mulch. Professional landscapers and homeowners use this type of mulch for its valuable contribution to landscaping and color. However, there is some controversy about using cypress trees for mulch. Before using any type of mulch, you should know where it comes from and how long it can last.
Premium Cypress Mulch
Cypress mulch comes from cypress trees found in the swamplands of Georgia and Florida. The premium cypress mulch is grade B+, which means it consists of the entire tree (including bark and branches). The premium cypress has a woody appearance and is a reddish to tan color, but over time fades to gray. Some companies dye the cypress mulch a rusty red color.
Premium cypress mulch is used decoratively in gardens, walkways and areas where seating is available or as a way to prevent weeds alongside of the house foundation. The mulch should be 2 to 3 inches thick to block out weeds. Blocking fabric can be used under the cypress mulch for added protection from weeds.
The mulch repels insects and does not decay, so it offers no nutritional value to the garden. Mulch insulates the soil and helps prevent weeds and holds the moisture in the soil. The cypress mulch has a slow decomposition rate and is rot resistant.
The mulch is made of shredded cypress trees, which in the 1800s and early 1900s was noted as being longer lasting and durable. This is not true today, according to Susan Vince of UF/IFAS' School of Forest Resources. In the past it was common to make mulch from 40- to 60-year-old trees with heartwood that contained wood-preserving chemicals. Vince believes that the younger tress being cut today for cypress mulch have not built up the same heartwood and preservatives as the older tress years ago.
As of 2010, the average cost for 1 cubic yard of premium cypress mulch is $28. However, seasonal prices can change as availability fluctuates. As more and more cypress trees disappear in the swamps where they grow, the price for cypress mulch could increase dramatically.