How Much Does a Yard of Mulch Weigh

How Much Does a Yard of Mulch Weigh?

Mulching gives garden beds extra protection from weeds and erosion, and the right mulch can also offer nutritional and soil-building benefits. When it comes to quantifying mulch, we often hear the experts measuring it in yards. But before you place a mulch order this season, you should understandhow much a yard of mulch weighs (and how much space it will cover) so that you can plan how much to order, and how to move and apply it. In today’s article I’ll answer your question: how much does a yard of mulch weigh? and explain everything you need to know to mulch your garden beds perfectly.

First, a definition: “A yard of mulch” means one cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of mulch.

In most cases, a bag of mulch that you get at the hardware store or home center will be about 2 cubic feet. That means that if you need one yard of mulch and you’re buying mulch by the bag, you’ll probably need between 13 and 14 bags. 

On average, a yard (one cubic yard, or 27 cubic feet) of mulch can weigh anywhere from 400 to 800 (sometimes even 1,000) pounds. The biggest factor which affects mulch weight is moisture content, and I’ll explain this and the weight of popular mulch types in today’s article.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

How Does Moisture Content Affect Mulch Weight?  

Think about the last time you tried to pick up an enormous bottle or container of liquid. Yep, water is heavy!

That’s why a mulch’s moisture content plays a large part in how much it weighs.

How Does Moisture Content Affect Mulch Weight

Garden mulch with high moisture levels will be heavier than the same material with less water.

So, if you’re using a mulch with high water content, it may weigh as much as 800 or even 1,000 pounds per yard.

Compost is an example of a mulch with high moisture content. In many cases, compost will be as much as 40% to 60% moisture. 

If a mulch doesn’t have much water content, it’ll likely be on the lighter side of the range. For example, it might be as light as 400 pounds per yard.

In my experience you can expect bagged bark mulch or compost to be a little lighter than the same volume of mulch delivered in bulk, but this can vary depending upon how each type of product is stored.

Let’s learn more about mulch weight and the different kinds of mulch available so you can prep for your project. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

What is Mulch Made Of? 

There are two main mulch categories: organic and inorganic.

Some examples of materials often included in organic mulches are grass clippings, compost, bark and wood shavings, pine needles, and leaves. Others are hay, crop residues, buckwheat or rice hulls, and fresh-cut forage. 

What is Mulch Made of

I’m focusing on organic mulches like these in today’s article.

But what about inorganic mulch? Well, when you hear someone talk about inorganic mulch, they’re referring to materials that usually don’t come to mind when we think of mulch.

These include gravel, rocks, landscape fabric, rubber mulch, and even plastic sheeting. If you’re interested in getting a stone delivery, I recently wrote an article about how much a yard of gravel weighs which you may be interested in.

Why Do We Use Mulch? 

There are several reasons why homeowners and gardeners use mulch on their properties. I’ll go through them here. 

Why Do We Use Mulch

Helps Your Soil Retain Moisture 

You can help to prevent moisture from evaporating from your soil by putting mulch on top of it.

Without mulch, you’d be surprised at how much moisture soil can lose over time, especially as a result of hot sun and/or wind. 

It’s important to keep a healthy level of moisture in your soil. For one thing, if it loses too much moisture, your grass and flowers may not get the water that they need.

Also, dried out soil can end up cracking, causing the roots of your plants to get exposed and dried out.

Mulching your garden beds can reduce your water consumption by preserving the moisture your garden gets from rainfall.

Supports Plant Health 

As mulch retains your soil’s moisture, it helps to make your perennials, shrubs, and flowers healthy. Also, it adds extra nutrition to your soil over time.

Mulch Supports Plant Health

That is because organic mulch like bark breaks down, and as it does, its nutrients become part of your soil.

Helps to Regulate Soil Temperature

Mulch is a great temperature regulator. In the summer, it will help shelter your soil from the hot sun, keeping it cooler.

Mulch is useful in cold weather too, as it will help to insulate the ground and keep it warmer during that cold snap in January or February.

Cuts Down on Weeds

Putting down mulch will help to prevent weeds from growing in your garden beds.

The gaps between shrubs and flowers offer ideal conditions for weed seed germination, but if you have a few inches of mulch, weed seeds won’t get the contact with soil they need to germinate. Those that do make it to the soil will be deprived of the light they need to germinate.

I like using bark mulch for this. It looks attractive and works well. You may still get a few weeds, but if you pull them by hand when walking by your gardens, you’ll stay on top of it without having to use any chemicals or herbicides.

Reduces Erosion 

Soil erosion happens when the upper layers of your soil are lost. For example, they may be blown away by the wind or washed away by heavy rains.

Putting down mulch is a good way of preventing soil erosion. The layer of mulch will protect the top layers of your soil. 

How Should I Move and Spread Mulch? 

Mulch, especially moisture-rich mulch, is heavy. Don’t risk injury by transporting and spreading it the wrong way.

You’ll need a yard cart or wheelbarrow in order to transport mulch around your property. 

How Should I Move and Spread Mulch

Also, make sure that you have certain tools and equipment at hand for spreading your mulch. I recommend having a square-point shovel for picking up most kinds of organic mulch, but a spade can work ok as well. If your mulch delivery is light and not very moist, a sturdy snow shovel can be effective and save time.

If you’re using loose straw mulch, you’re going to need a pitchfork. A large scoop shovel may be necessary if you’re using a mulch with an especially fine texture, such as pine needles. I actually like to use a snow shovel for materials like this.

It’s best to wear gloves when you apply mulch. But don’t depend on average gardening gloves.

You need something sturdier. I always wear rubber-padded gloves, but thick leather will do just as well.

Be aware that if you’re getting mulch that has been died, that dye will discolor your gloves and clothing, so don’t wear your Sunday best. Instagram will understand.

How Should I Mulch Garden Beds?  

You should apply mulch surrounding the plants in your garden beds, covering gaps and open spaces. But don’t cover the crown of your plants with mulch. Doing so could damage or even kill your plants.

I like to make sure there’s a small (1 inch or so) gap around the base of any plants in beds I’m mulching.

As well as being great for retaining moisture in the soil, preventing weeds, and preventing erosion, certain kinds of mulch can actually make your garden beds look more attractive. 

How Should I Mulch Garden Beds

If you want mulch that looks beautiful, look for a pine or bark variety. There are plenty of options available on the market, such as reddish brown pine mulch. 

A lot of homeowners choose the dyed mulches sold by box stores. I’m not as huge a fan of this type of mulch because while it looks great that first week, that black, red, or brown color will fade quickly and make the mulch look dull.

If you love the look of dyed mulch and want to be able to refresh it when it starts to fade, I recommend this mulch dye from PetraTools (you can take $10 off your order with code LAWNCHICK) which is easy to apply and refreshes the look.

In my garden I try to keep things natural and have moved away from dyed mulch toward cedar bark. I find that taking an hour or two in the spring to rake gently and fluff up the mulch renews the look enough for me.

When you do apply mulch, I recommend that you put down no more than a three-inch layer of this product during your first application, and when you need to add more in subsequent seasons, add about 1-2 inches at a time.

Should You Weed Before Applying Mulch? 

It’s important not to leave weeds in the ground underneath the mulch you put down, so yes – I recommend weeding before adding mulch to your garden.

If weeds have already started growing, some kinds of weeds may actually end up flourishing under mulch.

That’s why you should check the soil carefully and pull out all the weeds you see from the roots. Once you’ve done that, you can apply your mulch.

This will take care of the weed problem for most people, and any that pop up after mulching can be hand-pulled with little effort.

Can I Mulch My Lawn?

Yes, you can use your grass clippings as mulch for your lawn, but you want to do this with a mulching mower as you mow – you don’t want to add grass clippings back to your lawn manually.

Can I Mulch My Lawn?

To do this, you’ll use your mulching mower to cut up your grass clippings small enough that they’ll make good mulch if you leave them on your lawn, which returns the nutrients to your soil as natural compost.

Look for a mower that comes with a mulching kit. I have an old self-propelled Honda gas-powered mower which is a beast and the best mulching mower I’ve ever owned, but I’ve also come to love my newer, battery-powered Greenworks 25″ self-propelled mower (pictured below). It has two blades and has totally changed the way I think about battery-powered mowers. It’s awesome.

Greenworks 25 inch Self Propelled Battery Powered Electric Mower

If you want to go electric, I can’t recommend Greenworks Tools enough, and you can save 10% on your order with code LAWNCHICK.

How Mulching Grass Clippings Helps Your Lawn

The mulched clippings will quickly decompose, infusing your lawn’s soil with nutrients. That’s why using a mulching mower is a quick and easy way of fertilizing.

Another thing that I love about my mulching mower is how you don’t have to worry about bagging and disposing of your clippings.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you’ll need to mow your lawn a bit more frequently.

That’s because if you use a mulching mower on long grass, the clippings will be too long to decompose as quickly as they need to. That will cause problems for your lawn health.

Final Thoughts About Mulch Weight & How Much to Order

Mulch is a gardener’s secret weapon! But remember, understanding mulch weight is important for making sure you’re ready to transport and apply it (and whether your vehicle can safely get it home).

As I revealed here, the more moisture content a mulch has, the heavier it tends to be. Of course, the materials in the mulch also plays a part in this. 

And if you’re wondering about how much mulch you’ll need for your garden, use my lawn measuring tool to map out your garden beds and accurately measure the square footage.

Demonstration of Measuring a Lawn Using's Lawn Size Calculator

You can then use the following formulas to calculate the exact amount of mulch to order:

Square Footage of Garden Bed x (Mulch Depth in Inches / 12) = Cubic Footage of Mulch

So for example if you have a 100 square foot garden you want to mulch at a 3 inch depth…

100 sq feet x 0.25 feet (3/12) = 25 cubic feet

And before you go, learn about using your grass clippings to make compost in my guide to using grass clippings as compost.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.



Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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