Creative Uses for Mulch

If your soil is poor and your landscaping looks bedraggled, you’re probably aware that spreading mulch is the simplest, most effective solution to making things look good quickly. Mulch suppresses weeds, builds up the soil, and helps your plants retain moisture. It also gives your landscaping a tidy, put-together look.

But did you know that you can use mulch for so much more?

Here at Zimmerman Mulch, we provide quality outdoor products that transform your landscape into an attractive living space, and we specialize in mulch

Mulch is commonly used in garden beds and around trees and shrubs. But today, we’d love to share our favorite creative ideas for fun, non-typical ways to use mulch!

Table Of Contents

  • 1
    What Is Mulch?
  • 2
    Typical Uses for Mulch
  • 3
    Creative Uses for Mulch
  • 4
    More Fun Mulch Ideas
  • 5
    How Zimmerman Mulch Can Help

What Is Mulch?

You may associate the word “mulch” with bags of bark mulch or ground wood mulch you pick up at your local garden supply store. But the word “mulch” can refer to any organic or inorganic material that’s spread on the ground to build up the soil, suppress weeds, conserve moisture, and look nice. 

For example, you can spread gravel, stone, landscape fabric, compost, recycled tire pieces, straw, or various other substances in your garden beds as mulch.

Typical Uses for Mulch

When you use mulch in the standard way, it offers the following benefits to your landscaping:

  • Aesthetic appeal

    Spreading mulch in your garden beds and around trees and structures gives the landscape a clean, uniform look.

  • Weed suppression

    Weeds are the bane of a landscaper’s existence, but mulch provides a natural way to suppress weeds without harsh chemicals. 

  • Moisture retention

    Mulch retains water and keeps the soil moist, so you don’t have to water your plants as frequently.

  • Enhancing soil fertility

    Healthy soil is full of decaying organic matter, so if you have poor soil, the best way to amend it is to add the right kind of organic mulch that will break down over time and nourish your plants.

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As you can see, mulching offers terrific benefits to your plants and landscape. But you can do so much more with mulch!

Let’s get into it.

Creative Uses for Mulch

Mulch Art

Think of your outdoor space as a canvas. Your landscaping choices create a unique outdoor art piece to bring joy to your family and guests.

Most of your landscape's artistic feel comes from the plants you choose. But did you know that the mulch itself can contribute to your backyard art?

Mulch comes in a huge variety of colors and textures, which you can use to set off plants to their best advantage, make an appealing visual contrast, or create unique patterns such as swirls or gradients. 

Mulch Paths

In the United States, yards tend to look very similar. Most landscaping consists of a large stretch of green grass with a few strategically placed garden beds, usually around buildings, trees, and sidewalks.

However, there are many other ways to structure your landscaping. Instead of thinking of your yard as an expanse of lawn with a few plants, you can think of it as an expanse of plants with strategic walking paths.

For example, you could create:

With wood mulch, gravel, or stone, you can create paths that meander through your landscape and allow you to access the various corners of your garden.


For optimal weed control, spread landscape fabric or cardboard under the mulch.

Mulch Playground Area

If you have children in your life, you may want to create an outdoor space for them to play, and you can use mulch to create the ideal environment.

Mulch works well for children’s play areas because it:

  • Minimizes upkeep by reducing weed growth
  • Provides drainage so children can comfortably play without getting wet and muddy
  • Keeps the soil from becoming compacted
  • Provides some cushioning if children are running and jumping

Besides the standard wood mulch, rubber mulch made from recycled tires can also create a fantastic ground cover in children’s play areas.

Mulch works well around swing sets, slides, playhouses, sandboxes, and other playground equipment. A blank expanse of mulch works well as a place to do fun childhood activities such as blowing bubbles, skipping rope, or playing tag.

Mulch for Optimal Plant Growth

The simplest way to mulch is to buy one kind and use it in all your garden beds. But if you want to be more creative, you can optimize your mulch by using different types of mulch for different kinds of plants.

Here are some examples of what we’re talking about:

  • Leaf mulch for plants that live in partial shade
  • Mineral-based mulches like greensand or crushed oyster shells for Mediterranean herbs such as sage, thyme, and rosemary
  • Cardboard mulch for suppressing weeds and grass
  • Shredded bark around trees and shrubs
  • Straw in vegetable gardens, especially around crops like tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers
  • Gravel or pebbles for xeriscape gardens and succulents
  • Pine straw for acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas, and ferns

By optimizing your mulch type to your plant type, your garden will thrive like never before!

More Fun Mulch Ideas

Mulching may seem like a boring chore, but it doesn’t have to be! There are so many fun, creative ways to make mulching fun again. 

Make your own mulch!

Mulch can be made from all kinds of household waste, from coffee grounds to plant debris to straw to wood shavings.


It’s fun to experiment with different materials, but be extra careful not to use anything that’s been treated with unnatural chemicals! For example, when buying local straw, ensure no weed killers were sprayed on it because those chemicals remain in the soil and suppress plant growth for years.

Start a mulch club.

Link up with like-minded garden hobbyists to share ideas and materials. Maybe one of you has a yard full of deciduous trees, one of you has a small farm that produces leftover straw, and one of you keeps horses. You can keep each other supplied with the mulch you need by exchanging leaves, straw, and horse manure.

You can even save money by buying mulch in bulk together.

Learn to be comfortable asking for advice.

Gardeners and landscapers love to discuss their methods, and your local garden experts will have the best advice for your particular climate. If you’re taking a walk and your neighbor is watering their flourishing garden beds, stop to ask what types of mulch they’d recommend!

Gardening supply stores are another place full of people who would be delighted to answer all your mulch-related questions.

How Zimmerman Mulch Can Help

At Zimmerman Mulch, we’ve supplied Lebanon County, PA, and surrounding areas with premium landscaping supplies for over 25 years.

We’re passionate about helping people create the landscape of their dreams. To that end, we offer many types of organic mulch and gravel mulch.

We also offer:

We’re always happy to discuss how we can help you with your landscaping goals! Give us a call today or stop by and see us.

We look forward to hearing from you!