Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by Grow with Bovees
When it comes to gardening, using mulch is widely popular.
When the time comes to buy your mulch, cubic feet and cubic yards are just 2 measurements that are used when talking about bulk products like mulch.
This can lead to confusion when trying to work out how much mulch you will need to purchase for your landscaping job.
If your mulch supplier sells mulch per bag, then you will need to know how many cu ft is in one bag. Once you know that, then you can work out how many bags you need by dividing how many cubic yards you need by 27, (there are 27 cubic feet in a yard).
It may sound complicated, but when you get down to it, it’s not that difficult.
Whether it is used in gardens, on lawns, to keep weeds out of flower beds or on pathways, it comes with great benefits. May it be the suffocation of weeds, its ability to retain moisture or simply boosting the appearance of a pathway.
So, the question is, how many cubic feet of mulch do you need for your yard? Should you buy bulk mulch or bagged mulch? How do you calculate the amount of mulch required?
Continue on as we try to answer these questions, in this short guide on how many cubic feet you will find in one yard of mulch.
Types of Mulch
There are a few different mulches found on the market, all containing a different mix of components such as cocoa beans, wood, straw and rubber, just to name a few. These vary in quality and cost and one could divide them into three categories, grouping them according to the quality level.
These are the most expensive types of mulches, often made from cedar or cypress trees. These types of mulch are great to use as they have a tendency to last longer and are not easily blown away by gusts and strong winds.
Their price ranges vary. ranging between $4 to $7 per bag.
Dyed Mulches or Hardwood Mulch
This type of mulch is a bit cheaper than premium mulch.
Dyed mulch can typically be purchased in different colors. These include gold, black or red mulch. This type of mulch is great to use if you feel like you need to boost your garden, flower bed or landscape with a pop of color.
Hardwood mulch and dyed mulch typically have a price range of $3 to $6 per bag.
Last but not least, there is the type of mulch known as economy mulch. This type is considered to be part of the low-end varieties of mulch and is satisfactory to use if you are not too worried about your landscape’s appearance and the cheaper option.
Economy mulch can typically be purchased for $2 to $4, making it convenient to use, if you have a large yard and need great quantities of it.
Bagged Mulch vs Bulk Mulch
Another thing to think about when purchasing mulch, is whether you want to purchase it in bulk or single bags.
Knowing the quantity of mulch that you require for your specific landscape, will make this decision easier. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages.
Mulch, sold in bags, is often sized at 2 cubic feet per bag. This type of mulch is easily transported as well as easier to handle. You can store it away easily, cover it up and use it bit-by-bit when necessary. There are also more options to choose from when it comes to bagged mulch.
Buying mulch in bags does, however, also mean that you typically need to pick the mulch up yourself. This means, driving to a store such as Home Depot, loading the bags into the car — this could also mean multiple trips to the store depending on the size of your vehicle — driving back home and then offloading them there.
This is quite labor-intensive and might not suit everybody.
Bagged mulch is also typically more expensive than buying it in bulk and the plastic bags that it comes in, are not great for the environment.
Mulch sold in bulk, is typically sold by the cubic yard. You will find that one cubic yard of mulch is equal to approximately 13.5 bags of mulch.
Purchasing mulch in bulk is often less expensive than buying bagged mulch and, if you own a truck of sorts, you can pick it up yourself and save money on the delivery costs, which you would need to add if you had it delivered by a landscaping service.
This mulch does not come in plastic, but is delivered in a large mulch pile — which can be a disadvantage if you do not have the space for a large pile of mulch in your yard.
There is quite a bit of labor involved here — especially when you have a large area that needs mulching. You would need to shovel it from the heap, into a wheelbarrow, wheel it to where you want to use it and then dump and spread it.
Calculating How Much Mulch You Need
Now that you know a bit more about the different classes and types of mulch, it is time to figure how much mulch you require for your yard or garden bed and how to calculate this amount with regard to the type you choose — bagged or delivered mulch.
Continue on for a simple step-by-step explanation of how you can easily measure your yard and determine how many cubic yards of mulch you should purchase by using a mulch calculator.
Step 1: Make The Decision
As mentioned above, mulch comes in different forms made up of different components. These components may include wood chips, shredded bark, pine straw or compost.
Buying bags of mulch should be based on the type of plant beds or landscape bed you are working with and whether the product is available in your area.
After deciding on the type of mulch that you wish to use, you can start by calculating the area of your yard, which will decide how much mulch you need.
Step 2: Calculating The Square Footage
In this step, we shall talk about how to determine the different dimensions of a yard and calculate the area accordingly.
If you are dealing with a yard or garden that is shaped like a rectangle or a square, simply measure the length of the space in feet and then multiply that number with the width of the space also measured in feet.
The formula looks like this:
Length (ft) x Width (ft) = area of a rectangle or square (sq. ft.)
If your yard is circular, go to the center of the area and measure the distance from there to the outer edge of the bed. This distance is mathematically known as the radius. Double that length and multiply it by Pi — which is 3.14.
The formula looks like this:
Radius (ft) x Radius (ft) x 3.14 (Pi) = area of a circular shape (sq. ft.)
If your yard is oddly shaped — by odd I mean not square, rectangular or circular — but any other shape such as an oval or rhombus, do not stress. Simply break up the shape into squares, rectangles or circles as best you can, use the above formulas and add all the results together to find the area.
Step 3: Depth of Mulch
Now that you are able to calculate the area that needs covering, you need to make a decision on the depth of mulch needed.
Depending on which type of plants require mulching, the depth of it will range between 1 and 4 inches of mulch.
Step 4: Calculating The Volume Using Bulk Mulch/Bagged Mulch
After calculating the square footage of your yard and determining the mulch depth required, it is time to determine the volume of mulch required.
Take your yards square footage and the desired mulch depth and multiply them with one another. Then, take that result and divide it by the number 324. The answer obtained will be the amount of mulch required in cubic yards.
The formulas look like this:
Yard area (square feet) x Mulch thickness (in) / 324 = Mulch volume (cubic yards)
Bagged Mulch in Cubic Yards
In order to figure out how many bags of mulch you would need for a certain yard area — assuming that the bags are measured in cubic feet — simply multiply the desired layer of mulch thickness, which you would like on your garden beds, with the calculated yard area, followed by dividing the number with the size of the bag purchased (the most common size are 2 cubic foot bags, if you have 2 cubic foot bags, then there are 13.5 bags per cubic yard.).
Always convert the inches of mulch thickness to feet before using it in the calculation. The formulas look like this:
Yard area (square footage) x Mulch thickness (ft) = Cubic yards of mulch (cubic feet)
Mulch volume (cu ft) / Mulch bag size (cubic feet) = Number of bags you need to use
Inches to feet conversion:
1 inch = 0.83 feet
2 inches = 0.167
3 inches = 0.25
4 inches = 0.33
5 inches = 0.417
We hope that this article has made it easier for you to determine the perfect amount of organic mulch you need to cover a certain area of ground.
The cost of mulch will always differ depending on type, location, discounts, delivery charge etc. Buy mulch found at your local garden center that suits you and your budget the best.
One final thing to keep in mind: 13.5 bags of mulch — if each bag is 2 cubic feet — are equal to one cubic yard of mulch. Generally, you are better off buying mulch by the cubic yard than in small bags.