Formal Garden Mulch Ideas

Formal and manicured garden spaces can benefit from the uniformity and finish mulch can give to the soil surface. Some mulches, however, have a more refined and polished appearance than others. When using mulch in a formal space, you want a material that is uniform and saturated with its color in a natural tone that complements the plantings and that easily can be kept in place and groomed as needed. Organic mulches are ideal for formal garden spaces and afford the gardener a range of materials, colors and price points to choose from in additional to feeding the soil as the mulch degrades over time.

Shredded Bark Mulches

Shredded hard and soft wood bark is a common garden mulch and can be purchased in varying grades from very finely milled to very coarse. The bark is derived from a number of lumber trees, and the color of the bark mulch will vary by its origins. Most common shredded bark products are from pine, fir or redwood trees. Choose a grade of bark mulch on the fine side, with pieces averaging an inch across for a more refined look. Bark mulch responds easily to raking and resists compaction when walked on.

Cocoa Bean and Buckwheat Hull Mulch

Cocoa bean and buckwheat hulls are the fine textured casings of the bean and grains. Though not ideal for gardens exposed to wind (they are somewhat lightweight), both are attractive mulch options for most any other formal garden. Each has relatively uniform and natural colors with cocoa hulls being a bit darker in hue. Cocoa bean hulls also have the added benefit of a slightly sweet, rich scent. Gardeners can easily groom smooth both options by raking.


Compost is a wise choice for mulching formal gardens because of its rich, dark and even color and its ability to nourish the soil. Compost will boost the nutrient content in the soil with each watering, protect the roots from fluctuating temperatures and prevent excessive moisture loss because of evaporation. Smooth and level compost with the back of a rake.

Keywords: mulch in formal gardens, choosing mulch, elegant garden care

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.