The Clever Homeowner is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

How Much Mulch Do You Need? The Ultimate Guide To Buying Mulch

There’s no denying the special unique smell that comes with the opening of a new bag of mulch.  Not only does that rich smell indicate that someone’s getting ready for some serious yard work, it also tells you that spring is here.

But why mulch? There’s lots of reasons to spread mulch around your property, from boosting curb appeal to retaining moisture and preventing weeds from growing. But regardless the reason, there’s usually one problem.  How much mulch do you need?  

Should you buy individual bags of mulch? Or should you order the mulch in bulk?  And how much does a single bag of mulch cover, anyway?  

If you’ve been asking some of those same questions, keep reading.

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how much mulch to get for your project and know how much a single bag of mulch covers.

How Much Mulch Do You Need?

The problem is, most of us aren’t professional landscapers or master gardeners.  On the contrary.  Most of us might spread a bag or two of mulch once or twice a year.  

That means the majority of us are unable to just look at a job and know exactly how many bags of mulch to buy.  As a matter of fact, if you’re anything like me, you try your best to estimate how much mulch to buy, and it always either too much, or not enough.  Meaning another trip to the store.

Not only that, a single bag of mulch with 2 cubic feet can weigh up to 50 pounds each! So we want to take our time to figure out exactly how many bags we’re going to need before we start lugging around such heavy bags of mulch.

To help you determine how much mulch you to buy,  you need to decide what type of mulch to buy.  Each type of mulch will not only weigh significantly different that the others, but each type also covers a different amount of area.

Other things that will determine the amount of mulch to get besides type, are:

  • Total area to be covered
  • Depth of mulch coverage

Related: What Type of Mulch Last the Longest and Doesn’t Fade Fast?

Standard Coverage Rates For Mulch

Since wood mulch, or bark dust, is the most common type of mulch, that’s what we’ll talk about the most in this article.

With that in mind, the average standard coverage rates for mulch can be seen below.  So how much does a single bag of mulch cover?(

2 Cubic Foot Bag Of Mulch Coverage Rate

DEPTHArea Covered:

8’x8′ (64 sq. ft.)

Area Covered:

25’x4′ (100 sq. ft.)

Area Covered:

12’x12′ (144 sq. ft.)

2″ = 12 sq. ft.5.3 bags needed8.3 bags needed12 bags needed
3″ = 8 sq. ft.8 bags needed12.5 bags needed18 bags needed
4″ = 6 sq. ft.10.6 bags needed16.6 bags needed24 bags needed

3 Cubic Foot Bag Of Mulch Coverage Rate

DEPTHArea Covered:

8’x8′ (64 sq. ft.)

Area Covered:

25’x4′ (100 sq. ft.)

Area Covered:

12’x12′ (144 sq. ft.)

2″ = 18 sq. ft.3.5 bags needed5.5 bags needed8 bags needed
3″ = 12 sq. ft.5.3 bags needed8.3 bags needed12 bags needed
4″ = 9 sq. ft.7.1 bags needed11.1 bags needed16 bags needed

1 Cubic Yard of Mulch Coverage Rate

2″ =

162 sq. ft.

Will cover approximately 13’x13′
3″ =

108 sq. ft.

Will cover approximately 11’x10′
4″ =

81 sq. ft.

Will cover approximately 9’x9′

The Different Types Of Mulch

There are two different kinds of mulch.  Organic mulch, such as wood chips and compost. And inorganic mulch, such as gravel or rock.

For the purpose of this post, we’ll be talking specifically about shredded wood type of mulch, or bark dust.  Also, please note that the coverage rates for compost type mulches are very similar to wood mulch.

Organic Mulch

The organic types of mulches that are listed here usually don’t cost as much as the inorganic mulches.  Typically, a single bag of organic mulch covers a much larger area than say, and inorganic stone mulch would.

Organic mulches also weigh less than inorganic mulches and can be easier to work with.

The downside to using organic mulch over inorganic though, is that you’ll need to replace organic mulch much more frequently, as it tends to break down over time.

Wood Mulch

There are many different kinds of wood mulches, such as red cedar and other hardwood varieties, shredded eucalyptus and large bark chips.

Wood mulch, or bark dust as it’s also called, all cover about the same amount of area. Of course the depth at which you cover will change the amount of mulch you need.

Like I mentioned earlier, organic mulch such as wood mulch products, weigh significantly less than inorganic mulch, like stone.

How Much Does A 2 Cubic Foot Bag Of Wood Mulch Weigh?  

The weight of a single bag of mulch largely depends on if the mulch is wet or dry. A bag of dry wood mulch weighs on average about 20 pounds. While the same bag of wet wood mulch can weigh as much as 40 pounds.

How Much Does A Single Bag of Wood Mulch Cover?

When not purchased in bulk, wood mulches mostly commonly come in 2 cubic foot bags. For the mulch to work correctly in preventing weed growth and moisture retention, it’s recommended to install at a thickness of 2 to 4 inches.

  • A single bag of mulch 2 inch thickness covers 12 square feet.
  • One single bag of mulch 4 inch thick covers 6 square feet.

How Much Does Mulch Cost?

According to Angies List, “Hardwood and dyed mulches typically cost $30 to $36 per yard, or $3 to $6 per bag. To give your landscaping an extra pop of color, consider buying black, red or gold mulch.

Premium mulches, such as those made from cedar or cypress trees, can cost $40 to $47 per yard, or $4 to $7 per bag. These mulches tend to last longer and are less likely to blow away in high winds.”

Additional Mulching Tips:

Angies List also offers these tips for using wood mulch:

  • Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch to new beds, or 1 inch to existing beds.
  • Schedule your delivery on a weekday. Mulch companies say weekend delivery slots fill up fast.
  • Confirm consistency. Deals that sound too good to be true could signal the mulch company is trying to sell you an inferior product.
  • Use a tarp. Place a tarp on the ground to alert the delivery driver where to unload your mulch. It also keeps the mulch dry and makes for easier cleanup.

Online Mulch Calculator

One of the best ways to determine how much mulch you need, or how many single bags of mulch you need is to use an online mulch calculator.

This online mulch calculator from will tell you exactly how much mulch you need.

The reason I like this online mulch calculator is because it allows you to figure out how much mulch you need in 3 very simple steps:

  1. Either calculate the square footage or enter the square footage if you already know it.
  2. Select the specific kind of mulch you’ll be using (currently there are 12 different types of mulch to choose from.
  3. Enter the mulch depth

The Lowes mulch calculator will tell you how many cubic feet of mulch you need, as well as the number of single bags of mulch you need for your project.

Checkout the Lowes Free mulch calculator HERE.

Where Can I Buy Mulch By The Truckload?

In my case, because of the mass quantity of mulch I need to buy every year, I have to buy mulch by the truckload, or in bulk.  I’m fortunate enough that I have a guy who lives 3 miles down from me and delivers bark mulch in bulk right to my driveway.  As a matter of fact, a magnet with his phone number hangs on my refrigerator all year…just waiting for that one phone call.

But if you don’t happen to have a neighbor that delivers mulch, and you’re wondering where you can buy mulch by the truckload, then there are definitely several places you can check.  

  • Craigslist
  • Home Depot or Lowes
  • Local Nursery Supply Store


So remember, when deciding how much mulch you’ll need, first decide what kind of mulch you want and how thick you want it.  Next, measure the area you’ll be covering.  Finally, hop onto the online mulch calculator and input this information.  

If you’re still having trouble knowing how much mulch to get, or even deciding what kind of mulch to get, then I highly recommend contacting your local home improvement store or enlisting the help of a professional.  

How Much Should You Pay A Handyman Per Hour

Handyman Services: What You Can Expect to Pay And 5 Reasons To Hire One

is concrete the same thing as cement

Cement vs Concrete: What Is The Difference?