Cypress or Cedar Mulch: Which Is Better?

Cypress or cedar mulch header

Mulching provides a lot of advantages for your garden. It can strengthen soil integrity while also preventing weeds. It’s also great at preserving moisture in the soil.

But which type is the best? Cypress or cedar mulch? Read on and find out.

Cypress or Cedar Mulch – Which Is Best?

This depends on your environment. Both retain moisture in the soil, provide a barrier to stop weeds germinating, regulate temperature and repel insect and ticks. Cedar mulch will take longer to decompose and is also more easily flammable. Cypress mulch retains its color, has a fresher scent, and takes longer to break down. However, it has a higher composition of carbon in its makeup, which means it needs more nitrogen-rich soil to be truly effective

What Is Mulching?

Mulching is a popular gardening technique where the soil is covered by organic products like bark, wood chips, and leaves, among others. 

It is usually organic in nature, but there are times when a plastic sheeting is used. 

It is applied over the soil or around existing plants. 

Another type of mulch

When you use mulch made of compost or manure, you incorporate it into the soil rather than use it as a cover of sorts. 

Works and other organisms will also naturally incorporate it into the soil to make it more nutrient-rich. 

There are a number of benefits to mulching:

  1. Ability to retain moisture. You don’t want the soil to dry out and potentially harm the growing plants. 
  2. Organic mulch also has the ability to make the soil more healthy. This is because over a period of time, it breaks down and makes the soil more fertile. That’s why organic mulch is always more superior. 
  3. It serves as protection during winter. 
  4. Helps with weed control. 
  5. Protects against soil erosion. 
mulch close up

How do you choose the type of mulch?

There is actually no one way to choose a mulch. It’s really dependent on what you need. Sometimes, it also depends on your budget. 

However, if it’s a choice between organic and inorganic, the former just has more benefits. 

There are many things that can be used as organic mulch. But if you really want multi-purpose mulch, the cypress and cedar mulch are among the best. 

Easy on the pockets, too

If you know of a local arborist, you could always ask for some wood chips that you can use as mulch. 

They don’t disintegrate easily either, which means they would last for quite some time. 

But which one is better?

Let’s dig deeper into what a cypress mulch or cedar mulch brings to the table, erm, garden in this case. 

Cedar & Cypress Mulch: Similarities

There are different types of mulch but the one made from wood, either chipped or shredded, is the most popular. 

Then when you go to specifics, cedar mulch and cypress mulch are certainly among the most commonly used wood chips for mulch. 

It’s for good reason

If they are popular, then you know that they work and many people are satisfied with what they accomplish as mulch. 

Cedar mulch is made from the wood of–you guessed it–cedar trees. On the other hand, the cypress mulch is also made of cypress tree. 

The wood is either shredded or chipped.

Here’s the deal

The two trees are different. But there are also some similarities. 

But let’s first look at them individually. 

Cedar trees

Cedar trees

They are coniferous trees that are native to the Himalayan mountains and the ranges in the Mediterranean region. 

They have since spread out in other parts of the world. 


These trees are tall. They can grow from 30 to 60 meters tall. 

Their smell has a hint of spicy resin in it, which is always very refreshing. 

Since it has a beautiful structure, cedars have also been cultivated for ornamental purposes. 

Other uses

The cedar wood is also a popular type of wood used in making furniture. 

Also, the wood itself and the cedarwood oil are popular natural moth repellents. 

Cypress trees

This type of tree belongs to the evergreen conifers family. They grow between five and 40 meters tall. 

Obviously, it is generally shorter than most cedar trees. 

Where can you find them?

They are generally natives of warm temperate regions like North America, Central America, northwest Africa, the Middle East, and the Himalayas, among others. 

The branch, cone, and oil from cypress trees can be used as medicine for cough and colds. 

Cypress trees with cloudy mountain behind

Enough about that

Let’s go back to talking about the mulch. 

The good thing about having either cypress or cedar mulch is that while they are functional, they can be aesthetically pleasing, too. 

That’s right!

They look good while also possessing important benefits for the plants. 

Check out these important benefits of both the cedar and cypress mulch:

1. Preserves soil moisture

Cedar and cypress mulch have a great ability to retain moisture in the soil by reducing moisture evaporation. 

A mulch, of course, provides some sort of covering to the soil. In a way, it provides a physical obstacle between the soil and the air. 

Wind is an instrument that hastens the process of evaporation. 

Going with that

The mulch helps regulate the temperature of the soil. 

It’s essential to regulate the temperature because you don’t want the soil to go dry. 


Water is essential for plants to live and thrive.

During summer, the mulch will help your plants survive despite the heat since there is still moisture in the soil. 

If ever you forget to water the plants, at least some moisture has been preserved. The mulch will help your plants endure even if you don’t have to water them that much. 

By the way

Since you don’t have to water the plants that much, this also means that you get to save on your water bill. 

2. Impedes the proliferation of weeds

Everybody hates weeds. Good thing the cedar and cypress mulch help in preventing weeds from cropping up in the garden. 

Obviously, the mulch already embodies physical protection over the soil. It would be hard for the weed to encroach the area. 

There’s more

The mulch is also a barrier that provides sunlight from penetrating the soil. Without light, the weeds will fail to germinate. 

The mulch is not foolproof. There will still be resilient weeds that will grow and steal some nutrients intended for the plants. 

At least, they will be limited. They could be easily spotted and you could simply remove them. 

3. Provides insulation

When it’s too hot, the mulch will help protect the soil and the roots of the plants. It’s the same during winter. The mulch protects the soil and roots from frost. 

The mulch is a great temperature regulator. 

4. Repels some insects and ticks

Cypress and cedar smell really good. The aroma that comes from these trees, or from the mulch of these trees, can repel insects and ticks. 

Pests could destroy some of your plants, so the mulch provides wonderful benefits. 

5. Attractive

As earlier mentioned, these types of mulch (cypress and cedar) are really quite attractive. At least, you won’t have to damage the attraction that your garden provides. 

Pretty flower in mulch

Cypress & Cedar Mulch – Differences

Aside from the physical differences of the trees themselves, there are also some key distinctions between the cypress mulch and cedar mulch. 

More about cedar mulch

Shredded cedar used as mulch will take time to decompose. That’s quite good since you don’t have to change your mulch right away. 

It’s not all perfect, of course. The cedar mulch also has some disadvantages:

The scent may be too much for people with allergies

So, we mentioned that the aroma coming from cedar is really good. It repels bugs but it generally has a nice spicy resin scent. 

However, such scent could also irritate some people with allergic rhinitis. 

Repels MOST insects

It’s great that cedar could repel most insects, especially those that would be bad for your plants. However, you also have to remember that bees and butterflies also belong in the insect family. 

You know them

They are actually insects that are beneficial to the garden. 

Color fades

After some time, the cedar mulch will turn into a dull gray color. While we said that it doesn’t decompose easily, hence, you don’t need to change it often, you might have to because of the change in color. 

But if you don’t mind the dull gray and you have a way to just make the garden look good with the plants within, then good for you!

Catches fire easily

This is always a risk for organic mulch. But, hey, it’s not like you are going to light fire in the garden anyway. 

But it’s worth noting that cedars catch fire much faster than cypress. So, if you live in a fire-prone area, best not use cedar as mulch. 

Cedar mulch

More about cypress mulch

One thing about cypress mulch that is better than the cedar mulch is the color. The cypress mulch will retain its red color for a long time. 

This is great because red is a vibrant color and it will keep the garden more dynamic. 

Plus the scent!

It has that fresh aroma that will just make the garden much more of a haven. 

It doesn’t break down easily as well. This means that you don’t have to change the mulch for a long time. 


Cypress tends to mat together making it a good protection against soil erosion. 

Now, down to its disadvantages:

Cypress trees takes a long time to mature

Did you know? It could take some 100 years before a cypress tree matures. That’s a disadvantage because you don’t want to cut down cypress trees just to make mulch. 

In other words, there may come a time when we don’t have an abundance of cypress trees. 

On the other hand

You can’t use the immature cypress trees for mulch because they don’t have the characteristics that would repel pests. 

It is more carbon

If you want a mulch that will be totally beneficial to the plants, you want it to have a balance of carbon and nitrogen composition. 

Cypress, though, is more carbon. This means that your soil needs to be nitrogen-rich in order for the mulch to work really well. 

In other words

You have to be more careful about what type of soil you have. 

Cypress mulch

Cypress or Cedar Mulch – Which Is Better?

The answer is not black and white. It’s not always one or the other. You have to look at the circumstances in order to know which one is better. 

To be clear

To know which one is better, you have to assess your environment. 

For example, we mentioned that cypress mulch has an abundance of carbon. It would only work best if you have a nitrogen-rich soil. 

That means

You have to test the soil first, before you start applying mulch. Besides, testing the soil is always a must when you start to garden. 

We also mentioned that cedar catches fire much faster than cypress. 


If you live in a really hot area where there is a possibility of forest fires, the cedar mulch is a no-no. 

Even if you don’t live near the forest, if it is a fire-prone region, just go the cypress way. 

You see

It’s more about information. You have to be well-informed with the environment you are living or working in so that you could appropriately gauge the better mulch for your garden. 

Both are great types of mulch, that’s already a guarantee. It’s more about what suits your needs better. 


There you have it! You have now all the information you need to choose between a cypress or cedar mulch. Both are great types of mulch. In fact, they are among the most popular types of wood mulch. 

That only means that many gardeners have been satisfied by the benefits that cypress and cedar mulch bring. They are great with moisture retention in soil while also protecting it from extreme weather conditions. They drive away pests, too. 

However, they also have their own disadvantages. It’s really up to your garden’s environment for you to determine which mulch is great for your plants: cypress or cedar mulch?

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