How Long Does Mulch Last In a Bag

How Long Does Mulch Last In A Bag

Mulch protects your plants, minimizes water consumption, and makes your landscape pop with color for that attractive, polished look.

Typically, most people prefer buying bagged mulch from a store for convenience, especially when it’s challenging to start on your spring chores right away. But the question is, how long does mulch last in a bag?

Bagged mulch can last indefinitely. Unused or leftover bagged mulch needs dry and sealed storage to prevent pests, turning sour, or mold. The white stuff in your bagged mulch is a beneficial fungus decaying the organic matter to put in the bed. You can revive bad-bagged mulch to use in your garden.

But there’s more you should know about mulch bags. Read to the end.

Also Check: How Many Bags Of Mulch In A Pallet?

How Long Does Mulch Last In A Bag?

Bagged mulch can last for a long time until next season under proper storage. 

Bagged mulch means it comes in bags. It can last well for about 3-6 months if it’s dry, has holes, and is in a protected area. The best approach is buying bagged mulch and using it immediately.

Also, the standard type of bagged mulch is bark because of the lightweight hence easy to carry even without using a shovel or wheelbarrow. However, most people assume that it doesn’t go bad because it’s in bags.

While it can last considerably longer than conventional mulch, it’s essential to store bagged mulch properly. Here’s why.

Storing bagged mulch properly prevents molding, souring, and attracting insects and pests. Undoubtedly, bad mulch is harmful to plants’ health and smells terrible. Still, it sticks together in the bag, making it hard to spread evenly.

Storing Bagged Mulch: Can You Use Old Bags of Mulch? 

Yes, as long as there’s proper storage, you can use old bags of mulch. Ventilation and dry storage are vital. Because air slows down decaying, it prolongs the mulch’s life.

If you’re looking to store bagged mulch for a few weeks or months, store them in the bags you bought them in. Ensure the plastic bag has holes, and if not, you can poke a few.

Conversely, bulk bagged mulch requires storing in a secluded area. Use a large tarp to place under the mulch bags and a weed barrier fabric to stop any amount of moisture from penetrating.

More importantly, ensure you spread the pile out to allow proper airflow and ventilation around the mulch. This prevents the growth of mold and fungus in the mulch bags.

But don’t panic to see white hair-like strands in the bags when you open them to use. Mycelia is a fruited fungal spore suitable for plants and helps decompose the dead organic matter.

Fixing Bad Mulch in Bags: How to Tell Bad Mulch? 

Bad mulch in bags has a strongly acidic or vinegar odor, not to mention a lot of mold growing throughout. This is a typical result for bagged bark mulch lacking proper airflow and placed in damp areas.

Without proper ventilation, bagged mulch quickly goes bad. However, it’s easy to fix. This is what you should do;

  1. Always wear protective gloves and a mask while emptying the bag of mulch on a tarp.
  2. Using a rake, spread the mulch to about 2-3 inches thick. This allows proper air movement and water drainage.  
  3. Ensure you turn the mulch with your rake daily to allow air to reach all the mulch pieces to dry out.
  4. When the mulch stops smelling after 1-2 weeks, you can use it in your garden.

Should You Remove Old Mulch?

Yes, you should remove old mulch. Not removing old mulch makes it lose its nutritional value and depth eventually. 

Without the pile, it becomes hard to hold moisture and insulate beds. Weeds can start showing up again. Besides, you don’t want to keep adding fresh piles on top of old ones- your plants need air to breathe. Therefore, it’s good to remove some layers of old mulch once in a while.

Do you need to remove mulch yearly? Not really. Once you take it out of the bags and spread it on the beds, mulch can last up to six years. However, it all depends on the type of mulch you’re using.

Most importantly, you should know the right time to replace the mulch. Look out for things like discoloring, mold or fungus, and bare patches to get rid of the mulch.  

So, what should you do with old mulch? If your mulch has already decayed, don’t remove it but use it as organic matter like compost on your beds. Ideally, take some and blend with your surrounding soil to replace the rest.

Moreover, if you treated the old mulch, don’t burn it. Just gather it into a pile and throw it out. In addition, you can look for ways of speeding up mulch decomposition by mixing manure, grass clippings, and vegetable scraps. Some gardeners mulch two times a year- in the spring and the fall.

How Should You Spread Bagged Mulch?

When spreading your bagged mulch, you need to prevent improper application and waste. Here are a few tips of correct spreading;

  1. First, you need to take out a bag at a time from the pile and shake out the mulch into a wheelbarrow.
  2. Take out small piles and dump them all over the bed instead of carrying one big pile.
  3. Use your gloved hands to spread the mulch evenly and ensure you get it close to the base of the plants.

How much mulch is ideal for application? Preferably, it would help if you spread about 2-4 inches thick. If it’s too thin, then weeds can grow through. On the other hand, an extremely thick layer of mulch blocks water from getting to the soil, hindering proper growth.

Can You Buy Mulch In Fall And Keep Till Spring?

If you’re wondering if buying bagged mulch in the fall can last till spring and not get moldy in the bags, here’s what you should consider.

High-quality mulch hardly gets moldy if stored properly. Proper storage entails having a well-ventilated bag in a dry area to allow good airflow.

Also, it would be better to buy mulch when you want to use it right away. Buying mulch in fall to use in spring may not be a good idea as times of use are different. Still, most areas sell mulch twice a year in fall and spring according to the planting needs.

Therefore, talk to your garden supply store and find out the best option instead of worrying about preserving the mulch through winter.

Which Is Better – Bagged or Bulk Mulch?

Buying bagged mulch for landscape or gardening makes work easier. Firstly, most bagged products are usually lightweight hence easy to carry around to the needed areas.

Additionally, bags help you avoid messy mulch piles when used for specific tasks.

Furthermore, bagged mulch comes in different colors or types to help you choose the preferred landscaping styles.

Conversely, buying bulk mulch is an eco-friendly choice since it doesn’t come in plastic bags. Also, it saves you money, especially if you’re buying a significant amount.

The downside of buying bulk mulch is the need for a truck or trailer, especially if there are no deliveries. 

This also includes the challenge of transferring it to the garden or landscaping areas since you must have a wheelbarrow.

Final Thought

How long does mulch last in a bag? As long as there’s proper storage of mulch in a well-ventilated, sealed bag in a dry area, you can be sure to keep bagged mulch even over a year.

Besides, even if your bagged mulch smells or turns sours, there’re ways to fix and use it. Going the bagged mulch way is ideal for beginner gardeners or landscapers because of the flexibility and convenience.

Above all, weigh your options before deciding to store your mulch. If possible, only buy bagged mulch if you need to use it immediately. But if there’s no time – which is entirely understandable, there’s always a next time as long as you store it well.

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