Bark or wood chips
Available shredded or in small or large chips; excellent under trees and shrubs; use small or finely shredded bark chips or cedar mulch for flower gardens.
Cocoa bean hulls
Good for flowerbeds; smells like chocolate, but scent fades quickly; can get mouldy if applied thicker than five centimetres; toxic if ingested by pets.
When fresh, they have a high moisture and nitrogen content and can become smelly if layered too thickly, so apply 2.5 to five centimetres thick; avoid using when grass is going to seed, or you will have a grassy weed problem.
Use as winter mulch or save in bags for spring mulching of shrubs and flowerbeds.
Excellent for vegetable gardens or as winter mulch; don’t use hay, which may contain weed seeds.
Secrets to Great Soil: A Growers Guide to Composting, Mulching, and Creating Healthy, Fertile Soil for Your Garden and Lawn by Elizabeth Stell, Storey Publishing, 224 pages, softcover, $25.95.
The Composting Council of Canada has a helpful website: www.compost.org/mulchingpr.html.