Black Mulch Vs. Brown Mulch Pros & Cons: Which Is Better?

For many gardens, having mulch on the ground can make a huge difference in the way your landscape looks. There are many kinds of mulch available to use, but a lot of people are often torn between brown or black mulch. Here is what we discovered from our research.

Black and brown mulch are both widely used for landscapes and gardens. Both kinds are dyed to achieve these vivid colors.

Depending on your preferred look, both black and brown mulch look natural to use in the garden. However, the most common choice for mulch preferred by homeowners is brown because it is the most natural looking.

Choosing the right kind of mulch for your garden affects the way your garden looks. In this post, we'll talk about which mulch best suits your garden and if it should match the house's exterior color. We'll also look into other kinds of mulch that you may want to try, so keep reading and enjoy this post! 

Black and brown much on the garden, Black Mulch Vs. Brown Mulch Pros & Cons: Which Is Better?

Putting black and brown mulch on the ground, Black Mulch Vs. Brown Mulch Pros & Cons: Which Is Better?

Black and brown much on the ground, Black Mulch Vs. Brown Mulch Pros & Cons: Which Is Better?

Black Mulch Vs. Brown Mulch Pros & Cons: Which Is Better?

You've probably seen them in many gardens—perfectly spread out in a layer, mulch is a common item you'll see in landscapes. Mulch is an addition that helps to retain moisture in the soil, prevent weeds from growing, and make the area look really pretty.

If you are new to building a garden, you might be surprised to find that there are different colors and kinds of mulch available. These different mulches have various purposes, and they all have advantages that are better for different situations.

Comparison between black and brown mulch, Black Mulch Vs. Brown Mulch Pros & Cons: Which Is Better?

What is the difference between black mulch and brown mulch?

Black and brown mulch comparison

Two of the most common mulch colors are black and brown mulch. Typically, mulch is dyed to get that distinct, vibrant color that a lot of gardeners seek.

If you are looking for mulch to use in your garden, the most common suggestions would be black or brown. Both mulches are great, but here are some pros and cons between the two which can help you decide.

The only difference between black and brown mulch is its color. Both mulches can be made from either organic or inorganic materials.

Black Mulch


  • Black mulch helps block sunlight, which suppresses the weeds from growing. 
  • Aside from blocking the sunlight, black much is great at retaining moisture. If you live in an area where the soil dries easily, black mulch can help keep the moisture around your plants.
  • Black mulch made from wood shavings or shredded bark is a great addition to the natural soil composition. 
  • It's a great color choice for modern homes, adding contrast and making walkways really stand out.


  • Pests tend to hide in black mulch. This can be a problem if you don't have good pest control. 
  • Dark colors are heat absorbers. If your plants are a little sensitive to heat, it can cause wilting and heat stress.
  • This kind of mulch can be messy; it tends to look like dirt if pets or children track it inside the home.
  • Another problem you may face with black mulch is its highly flammable quality. Black mulch retains heat quicker than other colors, and if you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, it can be a problem.

Brown Mulch


  • This kind is the most natural looking out of all the different mulches. It suits any landscape style and does well with most plants.
  • Brown mulch is also the easiest kind of mulch to find. Since this mulch is very common, you won't be hard-pressed to look for brown mulch in specialty garden stores. 
  • For those who prefer natural, undyed mulch for their gardens, then you'll generally find this mulch color in various brown shades. They are also made of all-natural materials, so they're great additions to the compost soil.


  • Brown mulch sometimes looks boring. It's a very neutral color, similar to soil, so sometimes doesn't look any different from the real thing. This can be a disadvantage if you are looking for mulch that will add contrast to your landscape.
  • Some brown-dyed mulches do not break down easily because of the treatments added. Aside from this, brown mulch can cause toxins to leak into the groundwater of the soil.
  • There is also a high possibility for brown mulch to fade. This means that you'll have to put another layer of mulch to make your landscape look pretty, and it can get a little costly after a few mulch changes. 

Does black or brown mulch fade the least?

Wooden box full of seedlings over red pine bark mulch

Like all things, mulch also fades because of its constant exposure to sunlight. Both mulch colors will fade after some time, but one does so faster than the other.

Between the two, many gardeners find that brown mulch fades faster than black mulch. If fading can affect your choice, you might be better off choosing a darker-colored mulch for your garden.

The mulch color choice for your garden ultimately boils down to your own personal preference. For many gardeners, brown is a great choice because it is very natural looking and it is available everywhere. However, black mulch is also gaining popularity, so do check if you prefer this mulch for your garden.

Should Mulch Match The House?

Large beige house with empty backyard during spring with mulch and grass

Typically, the color of your mulch should not match the house color. The same colors between the mulch and the house exterior will make the entire landscape look flat.

If you are looking to buy mulch for your garden, choose a color that will contrast the exterior of your home. This will also accentuate plant color in the landscape. The mulch will also have its own shade, and it won't clash with the aesthetics of your home.

Is black or brown mulch better for selling a house?

Generally speaking, the color of the mulch does not affect the house's value when it goes up for sale. It does, however, affect the overall look of the home. 

Depending on the house's appearance, the mulch should provide contrast to make the house more appealing. A house that has a better curb appeal will sell better. Choosing a mulch that accentuates the garden will make the house look more beautiful.

What Are The Types Of Mulch?

Various stone and cedar mulch piles separated into various types for packaging in the warehouse

When you go to a garden store, there is a surprising number of different types of mulch available. They come in many different types, ranging from natural mulch to manufactured or recycled materials. Whatever option you choose, the type of mulch you pick will set the look of your landscape.

Organic Mulch

Shredded Bark

Typically made of bark from cedar or pine, this mulch is a premium choice for gardeners because it decomposes into the soil. This type of mulch is a perfect choice for gardens that are on a slope.

Grass Clippings

If you have an abundance of grass clippings, you can use them as mulch for your gardens. Aside from recycling garden waste, grass clippings also provide extra nutrition to the soil once it breaks down.

Pine Straw

For those who live in the south, where pine is abundant, you'll find that this type of mulch lasts for a long time. Pine straw is perfect for acid-loving plants, and they are great to use on areas that are on a slope.

Inorganic Mulch

Plastic Or Rubber Mulch

This mulch is made from repurposed rubber tires, and they are a prime choice for homes with kids. Rubber mulch also comes in a variety of colors, and they last for a very long time.  

Landscape Rocks

If you are planning to make your garden look more rugged, landscape rocks are great to use as mulch. There are a variety of landscape rocks that you can use to redesign and beautify your garden space.

Final Thoughts

Whether it's only a small part of your garden or a bigger part of your landscape, the color of the mulch you choose will change how your landscape feels. Black or brown mulch are both great options that you can choose for your home because they both look natural in any garden.

Looking for information on how to use mulch for your garden? We have a few articles that might interest you:

How To Make A Mulch Bed From Scratch?[Step By Step Guide]

How To Garden With Mulch [Step-By-Step Guide]

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