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The Disadvantages of Cedar Mulch

Wood mulch can benefit a garden by keeping down weeds, moderating soil temperatures and providing nutrients to the soil. While cedar mulch may provide some of these benefits, there are definite disadvantages to keep in mind when considering it for your garden.

Cedar bark can be used to make mulch.

Wood mulch can benefit a garden by keeping down weeds, moderating soil temperatures and providing nutrients to the soil.  While cedar mulch may provide some of these benefits, there are definite disadvantages to keep in mind when considering it for your garden.


Too Long Lasting

Because of certain chemicals in cedar, it does not break down quickly.  The disadvantage of this is that cedar mulch may start looking bad, but not rot and blend into the soil.

You may need to remove last year's mulch for a fresh coat. 


Ties Up Nitrogen

Because cedar is so long lasting, it does not break down quickly to provide nutrients to the soil.  Instead, it may tie up nitrogen in the soil layer just below the mulch, restricting the nutrients available to plantings.


Possible Toxicity to Plants

While the data is not definitive, many believe that the chemicals in the cedar that keep it from rotting may also inhibit growth of other plants, particularly seedlings.  This is good if the other plants are weeds, but not so good if they are the flowers you planted.


May Need Aeration

Because cedar bark mulch is of a finer and stringier texture than other wood mulches, it may become compacted and prevent sufficient water and nutrients from reaching the soil below.  You may need to aerate it to avoid this problem.


More Expensive

Wood chip production

Cedar bark mulch is generally more expensive than some other wood mulches, such as hardwood mulch. 

About the Author

Susan Thogerson Maas is a freelance writer in Oregon with a psychology degree from Stanford and an elementary teaching certificate from Oregon State. She has written for over 25 years, appearing in Hopscotch, Homeschooling Today, and other publications. She also writes Sunday school curriculum and material for standardized tests.

Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of woodley wonderworks
  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of woodley wonderworks
  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt
  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Justin Henry