What is Color-Enhanced Mulch?

O. Parker

Color-enhanced mulch is a wood-based mulch with added dies to to enhance the intensity and duration of the color. Color-enhanced mulches come in a variety of colors, including blond mulch, shades of deep red mulch, brown mulch and black mulch. The quality of these types of mulch vary by individual producers and sellers. Low-end color-enhanced mulch is made from ground up pallets, while high-end products are created from quality hardwood mulch materials.

Using mulch in a flower bed can prevent a later invasion of weeds.
Using mulch in a flower bed can prevent a later invasion of weeds.

Landscape mulch is used to enhance the appearance of an area by creating an even layer of material over the soil around plants, landscape trees, garden areas, pathways and patios. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, a layer of landscape or garden mulch regulates the soil temperature around plants, keeping the soil warm during the winter and cool during hot summers. A mulch layer also regulates moisture levels in the soil, keeping the soil damp during hot, dry or windy weather. Weed control is another benefit of using mulch in the landscape or garden. Wood and other organic mulches provide the additional benefit of adding organic matter to the soil, improving the soil as the mulch layer decomposes.

Color-enhanced mulch is often darker than natural soil.
Color-enhanced mulch is often darker than natural soil.

High-quality color-enhanced mulch made from quality hardwood materials and biodegradable, environmentally-friendly dyes provides all the benefits of regular wood mulch, including soil enhancement over time, temperature and moisture control, and weed suppression. In addition, colored mulch is designed to hold its color for an entire season. In contrast, natural wood mulch is likely to fade to gray within the first one to three months of exposure to the elements.

Average quality color-enhanced mulch tends to be less costly than good quality hardwood mulch. Many colored wood mulches are made from ground up pallets that are then colored and sold as bulk mulch or in small bags. This type of mulch provides a visually pleasing layer, suppresses weeds, and regulates temperature and moisture levels as hardwood mulches do, but it does not provide the added nutrition and organic matter that enriches the soil.

Color-enhanced mulch is sold in bulk by the yard at many landscape suppliers or in bags at home and garden stores. As with any organic mulch material, color-enhanced mulch can create a moist environment where harmful molds and incests may grow and live. To prevent this, color-enhanced mulch should be held back 2 to 8 inches (about 5 to 20 cm) from the base of trees, shrubs and wood house siding.

Color-enhanced mulch is usually hardwood mulch that has been dyed to increase the longevity of the color.
Color-enhanced mulch is usually hardwood mulch that has been dyed to increase the longevity of the color.

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Discussion Comments


@bluedolphin-- I think cedar mulch naturally has a reddish color. So that could be the alternative you're looking for but it costs a lot more than regular red mulch.

As long as the dyes used are non-toxic and safe, I think that color enhanced mulch is a good option who want the functional benefits of mulch as well as an attractive appearance.

Growing up, there was a house on the corner of our street. It was a red brick house and the yard was gorgeous with lush green foliage and shrubs. The trees and the shrubs always had red mulch underneath which emphasized the color of the house. It was so beautiful, I loved looking at that house while the school bus drove by. I think that color enhanced mulch can make a huge difference in the appearance of a garden or yard.


@burcinc-- As far as I know, it's brown. My dad and I bought some colored mulch in bulk and the company we purchased from said that the brown colored mulch is the most popular color. I think people prefer this color because it looks more natural in a garden setting.

But don't let that affect your decision. You have to decide on the best color by considering the landscape you will be using it for. The other colors -- red or black -- might suit your garden better. I think that a garden looks best when there are contrasting colors. That's why I prefer black or red colored mulch.

I actually wish that there was an organic alternative to color enhanced mulch so that the soil would benefit from the nutrients of the mulch, in addition to looking nice.


Which is the most popular mulch color?

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