How Much Does a Yard of Mulch Weigh?

Mulch is an essential component of gardening and landscaping, helping to conserve moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, and enhance the aesthetics of our outdoor spaces.

mulch wood chips
mulch wood chips

But mulch, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is getting mighty expensive. When it comes to purchasing pricey mulch, many people try to save some bucks by buying mulch in bulk by the yard.

But this creates some logistical headaches, like transport and weight. But, how much does a yard of mulch weigh?

A yard of mulch will vary in weight anywhere between 500 and 1,400 pounds. Composted bark mulch weighs between 500 and 600 pounds per cubic yard, while straw can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds per cubic yard.

This is a lot of weight for most people to deal with, and if you don’t have a truck or trailer, getting it delivered is your only recourse.

But don’t worry: In this article, we’ll explore more to do with purchasing mulch by the yard, and help you make informed decisions when it comes to buying mulch for your garden or landscaping.

Yard Refers to Cubic Yard

Before we go further, it is critical to understand just what a yard of mulch is. A yard of mulch refers to a cubic yard; a cubic yard is the volume of a cube that measures one yard, that’s 3 feet, on each side.

In other words, it is the equivalent of 27 cubic feet. A cubic yard is a standard measurement used in the landscaping and construction industries to calculate the amount of material needed to cover a particular area or fill a particular space.

However, it is important to note that when buying mulch by the yard, it does not necessarily mean that you will get a yard’s worth of coverage on the ground.

This is because the actual coverage area of mulch depends on various factors, such as the needed depth of the mulch, the texture, and the density of the material itself.

For example, a cubic yard of coarse, large chip bark mulch will spread out differently than a cubic yard of fine shredded mulch.

The density of the mulch can also affect the coverage area for other purposes, such as weed suppression compared to simple aesthetics.

When buying mulch, it is important to keep these factors in mind so you can figure out the exact amount of mulch required to achieve your desired depth and coverage.

Measuring simple areal coverage might leave you way short!

Different Mulches Have Different Densities

Then there is the other obvious factor for the weight of a cubic yard of mulch: the kind of mulch you are buying!

Different materials, and even different styles of mulch made from the same material can have dramatically different weights.

This can affect the amount of material you get for your money, as well as the coverage area. Here are a few examples of different types of mulch and their weights:

Wood Mulch: Wood mulch is one of the most popular types overall, and it comes in several varieties by species, such as hardwood bark, cedar, pine, and cypress, and also style, be it chipped or shredded.

Hardwood bark mulch is one of the heaviest, with a weight of more than 600 pounds per cubic yard as a rule.

Cedar mulch is a bit lighter, weighing around 500-600 pounds per cubic yard. Pine mulch is even lighter, weighing around 450-500 pounds per cubic yard.

Straw Mulch: Straw mulch is a natural, biodegradable option that’s often used in vegetable gardens and for organic farming.

It’s one of the heavier types of mulch despite how light a single strand feels weighing anywhere from 1,350 – 1,400 pounds per cubic yard. Better bring your truck!

Pebble Mulch: Pebble and stone mulch is a classy decorative option that’s often used in higher end landscaping projects. Stone is thought of as heavy and dense, but some options can be surprisingly light.

Pumice or chipped marble might weight as little as 550 pounds per cubic yard, while river rock is far heavier, weighing anywhere from 1,000-1,500 pounds per cubic yard.

Rubber Mulch: Rubber mulch is made from recycled rubber tires and is a popular option for playgrounds and other areas where safety is a concern, and any place where maximum longevity and pest resistance is paramount.

It very, very heavy though, with a weight of at least 1,250 pounds per cubic yard.

Cocoa Bean Mulch: Cocoa bean mulch is made from the shells of cocoa beans, a decorative option that also has a pleasant vaguely chocolatey scent.

It is expensive, but light and highly biodegradable with a weight of around 400-500 pounds per cubic yard.

Buying Mulch in Bulk Saves Money, But Might Be Heavier

One more thing to keep in mind is that mulch bought in bulk is, in most cases, exposed to the elements, i.e. not in bags.

This means it is far more likely to be exposed to rain and other precipitation. That in turn means that, if it can absorb water, it will and your mulch will be made much heavier until it dries out!

Some mulches like wood and straw might see weight increases of up to 50% due to water absorption, so be sure to factor that in when figuring out how much you can pick up or move with your vehicle and other equipment.

Just another example of how the weight of mulch can vary dramatically by the yard!

How Much Does a Bag of Mulch Weigh?

A bag of mulch averages anywhere from 20-50 pounds in weight, though some heavier mulch options or larger bags might push this closer to 80 pounds.

The best way to determine the weight of a bag is to check with your local supplier, as different vendors will have different weights and sizes for bags of mulch.

That said, most stores carry 2 cubic feet bags and usually weigh between 20-40 pounds.

The good news is that if you are buying bagged mulch in bulk you will be able to easily calculate the weight by referencing how many bags you have: multiply the weight of a full bag by the number of bags and you’ll know nearly to the pound!

How Many Bags of Mulch are in a Yard of Mulch?

This, once again, depends on the type of mulch and the size of the bag. However, with a little bit of back-of-the-napkin math, it is possible to get a rough idea of how many bags it will take to make a cubic yard:

First determine the volume of one bag of mulch. Let’s assume that the average volume of a bag of wood bark mulch is 2 cubic feet.

Note this may vary depending on the specific brand or type of mulch, as mentioned above.

We know that there are 27 cubic feet in one cubic yard (3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet = 27 cubic feet). Divide the cubic feet in one cubic yard by the cubic feet in one bag of wood mulch, like so:

27 cubic feet ÷ 2 cubic feet (volume in bag of mulch) = 13.5 (needed bags of wood mulch)

This means that it would take approximately 13 1/2 bags of wood mulch to make one cubic yard of mulch.

Keep in mind that the exact number of bags needed will vary depending on the specific type and brand of mulch, as well as how densely it is packed.

How Can I Calculate How Much Mulch I Need by Weight?

To determine how much mulch you need for your project by weight, you can perform an informed guesstimate, or see how much actual coverage you get from a bag of mulch.

This will help you to determine the weight of any given mulch you need.

You can estimate how much mulch you need by following these steps:

  1. Measure the total length and width of your desired area in feet (Length x Width). You can rough this out for oddly shaped areas.
  2. Multiply the length and width together to get the total square footage (L x W in feet = Total Square Footage).
  3. Divide the total square footage by the coverage, in square feet, provided by a single bag of mulch (SF ÷ Coverage in Sq. Ft. per bag = Bags Needed)

Reference the weight of a bag of mulch, or the weight of the known quantity you used.

Then you can perform the bags per cubic yard formula above and extrapolate to figure out how many pounds you need to order if ordering in bulk. Nothing to it!

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