How Much Does Mulch Delivery and Installation Cost?

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated February 16, 2022
House with mulched flowerbeds and mature plants
Photo: jhorrocks/E+ / Getty Images

Mulch delivery and installation costs for an average-sized garden of 500 square feet will be around $510, including the cost of the mulch itself

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Mulching your garden beds gives your yard that polished look, but it also helps keep weeds at bay, lock in moisture, and protect your plants. Before you mulch your garden, you’ll want to know the type you’ll need and what mulch delivery costs are in your area.

How Much Does It Cost for Mulch per Cubic Yard?

Mulch costs between $30 and $150 per cubic yard, depending on what type you use. The following are the typical costs per cubic yard (except where noted) of the most common garden mulches:

  • Red mulch: $35

  • Black mulch: $40

  • Bark: $95

  • Shredded hardwood mulch: $40

  • Cedar: $75

  • Hemlock: $45

  • Cypress: $110

  • Pine bark: $30

  • Pine needles: $150

  • Wood chips: $40

  • Yard waste, such as leaves: $0

  • Rubber mulch: $120

  • Rocks and gravel: $0.50 per pound

  • Straw or hay: $85 per cubic ton

Bulk Mulch vs. Bags

Regardless of delivery or installation, mulch can be purchased in two different ways: by the bag or in bulk.

  • Most bags of mulch cost $4–$6 per bag

  • The average cost for a truckload is $550 for 20 cubic yards, not including delivery fees

  • A scoop of mulch costs around $15 and is approximately 0.5 cubic yards

  • Add on delivery fees to the costs above, which typically start at $160

What Factors Influence the Cost of Mulch Delivery and Installation?

To determine what you’ll pay, you have to add the cost of delivery, installation, and the mulch itself.

Materials

Calculate how much mulch you need to buy. One cubic yard of mulch covers approximately 108 square feet at 3 inches deep. Most mulch should be spread at least 2 inches deep; new garden beds require 3 inches.  If you are just adding a topdressing coat to existing beds.

Once you have your number, round up to the nearest whole or half cubic yard for bulk delivery orders, or divide by the volume of the bags you’re purchasing to find how many you need. 

Pro Tip: Whether you’re paying a delivery fee or hauling bags home yourself, it’s better to have a bit extra than to have someone make a second trip.

Delivery

Mulch delivery costs an average of $220 for loads of between 1 and 15 cubic yards. Most people pay between $160 and $270

Installation

If you have a pro lay your mulch for you, expect to pay about $0.35 per square foot. The typical range is anywhere between $0.20 to $0.60 per square foot. For a typical 500-square-foot garden bed, this means you’ll pay around $175 in installation alone

How Much Mulch Can You Get on Your Budget?

On average, this is how many square feet you can expect to cover based on your budget, including bulk delivery, cost of mulch, and installation fees. 

  • $1,050 will get you 500 square feet of mulch installed

  • $2,100 will get you 1,000 square feet of mulch installed

  • $3,150 will get you 1,500 square feet of mulch installed

  • $5,250 will get you 2,500 square feet of mulch installed

  • $10,500 will get you 5,000 square feet of mulch installed

How Much Does It Cost to Install Mulch Yourself?

Closeup of gloved hands spreading mulch in flowerbed
Photo: Maria Sbytova / Adobe Stock

DIY mulching is, of course, more affordable than hiring a pro. You only have to pay for the mulch and delivery fees, so homeowners can shave money off their budget by applying mulch themselves. In general, this is a pretty straightforward project, but it can involve some heavy lifting. Just make sure your beds are completely weeded and prepped before spreading the mulch.

  • Pro tip: You can sprinkle a granular pre-emergent weed control to the beds before mulching, as this will help weed seeds from germinating in the growing season. You should sprinkle it again in mid-summer.

Another important factor to consider when it comes to DIY versus hiring a local mulch company is time. If you get a bulk mulch delivery, you need to be ready to spread it ASAP—you don't want a big pile of mulch sitting on your lot in a rainstorm. On the other hand, bags can be stored in your garage and spread one bed (and bag) at a time.

“Certain types of bulk mulch have a tendency to stain a driveway if left for too long. I recommend placing a tarp down before unloading the mulch,” says Tara Dudley, owner of Plant Life Designs. 

If you want to get it done and get it done fast, hiring a pro is the way to go. 

  • Pro tip: Consider bags versus bulk if you have a terraced yard that is hard to maneuver wheelbarrows through.

FAQs

What kind of mulch should you choose?

There are many different kinds of mulch, depending on how you want to use it in your garden. In general, homeowners want to mulch their garden beds to protect their plants, enrich the soil, and prevent weeds. 

Organic mulch breaks down into the soil and conditions it over time. This includes:

  • Wood and bark: This is by far the most popular type of mulch for many home gardeners. It breaks down very slowly over time, so once it’s been applied adequately to any garden bed, it often just needs to be partially replenished once a year. It also keeps weeds at bay and locks in moisture. It can come in small, medium, large, and shredded forms.

  • Leaves, pine needles, and yard waste: Leaves, grass clippings, and other organic matter from your yard can be used as mulch to help condition the soil and try to control weeds, as well as protect plants from frost. Just consider that some materials, such as pine needles, are acidic, so they may affect the soil PH.

  • Compost: Whether it’s from your yard or you have it delivered, composting helps enrich the soil, lock in moisture, and provide nutrients for the growing season. It is not a weed preventative, however.

  • Straw or hay: Used to block weeds and protect plants from frost. Inexpensive and great for controlling mud as well as winterizing the garden, but it can sometimes sprout!

You can also choose inorganic mulch, which does not break down over time. Most inorganic mulches are used to control weeds and dirt, such as: 

  • Rubber: Frequently used in playgrounds and commercial landscaping, it keeps weeds from growing and can hold in moisture, but rubber mulch can be controversial in the home garden.

  • Rocks or gravel: Used to keep weeds and dirt at bay, sometimes used as a moisture barrier, especially in rock gardens and xeriscaping.  However, remember that rock mulch will absorb more heat and can be harder on your plantings.

How much does it cost to blow mulch?

Ex. A mulch-blowing service costs $35 to $60 per cubic yard, compared to hand mulching, which runs $50 to $100 per yard. For a typical 250-square-foot flower bed that needs 2.3 cubic yards of mulch, mulch spraying costs about $100.

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