Cedar vs Cypress Mulch: The Definitive Guide

Nowadays, gardeners utilize mulches for a variety of reasons.

Mulches not only assist in managing and halting the growth of unwanted plants like weeds but also boost the overall aesthetics of gardens and flower beds.

When used correctly, mulches can also enhance water retention and soil health.

Cedar and cypress mulch are two mulch options that gardeners frequently consider for use in their garden.

In this all-encompassing guide, we will delve into cedar and cypress mulch, their advantages, disadvantages, and crucial aspects to consider when selecting the ideal mulch for your gardening requirements.

A Brief Overview Of Cedar & Cypress Mulch

Cedar Mulch

Cedar Tree

Cedar mulch is made from the bark of red cedar trees.

It is recognized for its unique reddish hue and pleasant scent. This mulch variety has a natural resistance to decay, lasting for 3 to 5 years. Cedar mulch is regarded as an eco-friendly alternative since cedar trees can be sufficiently regrown, thus maintaining their population.

Cypress Mulch

Cypress Tree

Cypress mulch is made from the softer wood and bark of cypress trees. It comes in a golden-brown or orange shade and also possesses a good fragrance.

Similar to cedar mulch, cypress mulch is naturally resistant to decay, taking approximately 2 to 3 years to decompose.

However, cypress mulch has faced criticism due to the rapid decrease in cypress tree populations, leading to environmental issues and habitat destruction.

Cedar vs Cypress Mulch: Principal Differences


One of the most striking distinctions between cedar and cypress mulch is their coloration. Cedar mulch exhibits a reddish hue, while cypress mulch displays a more orange-brown tint.

Cost And Accessibility

Cedar mulch is typically pricier than cypress mulch because of its superior quality and long-lasting characteristics. However, cedar mulch is more easily obtainable since cedar trees can thrive in various environments, and their reforestation is less complicated. Conversely, the dwindling population of cypress trees has restricted the supply of cypress mulch, rendering it a less sustainable option.

Ecological Impact

Cedar mulch is viewed as a more environmentally responsible choice since cedar trees can be replanted and their populations preserved.

In contrast, the utilization of cypress mulch has contributed to the decline of cypress tree populations, causing habitat loss for numerous animals that depend on these forests. Excessive harvesting without adequate reforestation has severely affected wetland ecosystems.

Insect Repellent Properties

Cedar mulch is recognized for its innate ability to ward off insects due to its scent. While it does keep away insects such as termites, it will also discourage helpful insects like pollinators (such as bees), posing a problem for outdoor gardens.

Conversely, cypress mulch lacks these insect-deterring qualities, making it a more suitable choice for gardens dependent on pollinating insects.

Cedar vs Cypress Mulch: Similarities

Despite the notable distinctions between cedar and cypress mulch, they also possess some shared characteristics. Both mulch varieties are long-lasting, inhibit weed development, and exhibit similar moisture-holding capabilities.


Cedar and cypress mulches are both renowned for their durability. High-grade cedar mulch can endure for several years, while cypress mulch typically lasts 2 to 3 years before requiring replacement. However, the quality of cypress mulch may fluctuate based on its origin and whether it is derived from mature or young trees.

Moisture Retention

Both cedar and cypress mulch can help in retaining soil moisture, allowing plants to remain hydrated and sustain a consistent soil temperature. Nevertheless, both mulch types can also repel or soak up moisture, hindering water from reaching plant roots. Gardeners employing cedar or cypress mulch should pay attention to their watering methods to guarantee plants obtain sufficient water.

Weed Barrier

Cedar and cypress mulch can effectively thwart weed growth when applied in a 3-inch layer. By obstructing sunlight and impeding weed seed germination, these mulches contribute to a tidy and weed-free garden.

Pros and Cons of Cedar Mulch

When deciding on a mulch for their gardens, gardeners should weigh the pros and cons of cedar mulch.

Pros of Cedar Mulch

  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Pleasant aroma that can repel harmful insects
  • Environmentally friendly option due to the sustainability of cedar trees
  • Effective weed barrier
  • Helps maintain soil moisture and temperature

Cons of Cedar Mulch

  • More expensive than cypress mulch
  • Can repel beneficial insects, such as pollinators
  • May release nutrients slowly, affecting plant growth
  • Will stop rain and water from seeping through if applied to thickly

Pros and Cons of Cypress Mulch

Cypress mulch also has its set of benefits and drawbacks that gardeners should take into account when selecting a mulch for their gardens.

Pros of Cypress Mulch

  • Attractive appearance and pleasant aroma
  • Adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down
  • Effective cover for soil insulation
  • More affordable option
  • Does not repel beneficial insects

Cons of Cypress Mulch

  • Environmental concerns due to the decline in cypress tree populations
  • Can increase the acidity of the soil, potentially harming plants that prefer neutral or alkaline conditions
  • More easily washed away by running water due to its small chip size
  • Decomposes faster than cedar mulch, requiring more frequent replacement.

Cedar and Cypress Mulch: Termite Resistance

Termites can occasionally be discovered in mulch beds; however, cedar and cypress mulch’s heartwood is more resistant to termites.

Nonetheless, both mulch varieties contain sapwood, which may lure termites. Termites eating wood mulch is not a major concern by itself, but it can become problematic if they invade a building or valuable property.

If you think you have a termite issue, it’s best to call a professional before the problem gets out of hand.

One way to deter termite movement is to keep mulch away from home foundations and other susceptible structures by creating a gap using gravel or stone.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Cedar Or Cypress Mulch

When deciding between cedar and cypress mulch for your garden, several factors should be taken into consideration:

  1. Cost: Cedar mulch is generally pricier than cypress mulch, making the latter option more appealing to budget-minded gardeners.
  2. Environmental impact: Cedar mulch is a more ecologically responsible and sustainable choice because cedar tree populations can be replanted and preserved. Utilizing cypress mulch may contribute to the decline of cypress tree populations and the resulting habitat loss.
  3. Insect repellent properties: Cedar mulch can repel harmful insects, but it may also keep beneficial insects away. If you need to attract pollinators to your garden, cypress mulch might be a better choice.
  4. Moisture retention: Both cedar and cypress mulch can aid in retaining soil moisture; however, they can also repel or absorb water, preventing it from reaching plant roots. Proper watering techniques are essential when using either mulch type.
  5. Weed control: Both cedar and cypress mulch can effectively inhibit weed growth when applied properly. Make sure to apply a thick enough layer of mulch to block sunlight and prevent weed germination.

Summing Up

Cedar and cypress mulch each have their distinct pros and cons, and the most suitable option for your garden will rely on your particular requirements and preferences. Cedar mulch is an environmentally friendly choice with insect-repelling properties, while cypress mulch provides a more cost-effective and pollinator-supporting alternative.

Regardless of the mulch type you select, be sure to take into account factors like cost, environmental impact, insect-repellent properties, moisture preservation, and weed management to guarantee you choose the ideal mulch for your garden.

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