What Is The Difference Between A Bark And A Wood Mulch?

Deco No.2. A Popular Bark Mulch
Deco No.2. A Popular Bark Mulch

What Is The Difference Between A Bark And A Wood Mulch?

Mulch is the term used for a variety of organic products which are applied to your garden as either a decorative ground cover, as a soil improvement and to conserve water usage. Bark mulch is one of the most popular mulches available, and comes in bark chips of varying shapes and sizes. Besides bark mulch, wood mulch also comes in a number of other varieties that feed the soil as they decompose, improves the look of your garden, and helps to retain soil moisture all at the same time.


Mulch has many benefits, but the main reason people use it is to boost the look of their gardens and put the finishing touch on their landscaping. Additional benefits include helping plants maintain a more even soil temperature, slow evaporation rates during hot summer days, and prevent weed growth to reduce garden maintenance.


Nitrogen Deficiency

Decomposing wood requires nitrogen. If you add a quantity of fresh wood mulch to your garden soil, chances are your plants will suffer from a lack of nitrogen. In this case, the soil isn’t necessarily deficient, but the breakdown of the wood or sawdust brings nitrogen deficiency in your plants. Wood mulches can also induce nitrogen deficiency, but it isn’t likely because they decompose at such a slow rate. Bark Mulch wouldn’t be as likely to create a difference due to it already going through more of an aging process than wood. It’s also unlikely because they are on top of the soil, not incorporated at root depth. But if this concerns you, or if your plants show the signs of nitrogen deficiency, add a nitrogen fertilizer suitable to your plants. 


Which Type of Wood Mulch Is Best for Me? 

With a wide range of wood based mulch to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which type to lay down over your garden beds. Here’s a list of the most common types, and why, or why not, you should choose these mulches for your landscaping needs.


Bark Mulch

Is one of the most popular mulches around, because it looks so great once you put it down. It is also an excellent choice when it comes to water conservation, since it provides a solid barrier against moisture evaporation. The one downside of this mulch is its size. Most bark mulch comes in large chips, which decompose slowly. If you can find bark that’s been shredded, it would be a better choice. Shredded bark will not only trap moisture in your flower beds better than large chips, but since it decomposes quicker, it more readily adds nutrients to the soil as well.


This article explores the kinds of barks you can buy and their advantages and disadvantages. Several bark available are—Premo® Nuggets, Decorative Nuggets, Forest Floor® mulch and Post Peelings. A chief advantage of these mulches compared with other organic mulches is that they remain attractive and functional for a couple of years. That’s why gardeners mulching around trees, shrubs, and other long-lived plants are wise to choose a long-lasting bark mulch.


How to Mulch

Two good rules of thumb are to mulch with 10cm of bark mulch regularly and to avoid mulch layer buildup (and potential nutrient deficiency problems) by removing old layers of undecomposed mulch before adding new layers.


Mulching Your Plants

 Whatever the type of plant, it’s rarely advised to mulch any more than 6 inches in depth. Mulch layers thicker than that might reduce air circulation in the soil, which will retard plant growth. Also, don’t pile mulch around the main stem of a plant where it enters the soil. The added moisture and insect haven that results could damage the plant you’re trying to help. Spread the mulch so that it covers the dripline of your plant.


Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

 Even around older plants with thick bark, don’t crowd mulch around their bases. Most won’t succumb to stem rot as quickly as soft-stemmed perennials, but it can happen just the same.


Landscape Situation

Which mulch you choose depends on the site:

Areas Prone to Flooding

Nuggets last many years without breaking down, but they’re not useful in wet areas or on steep slopes because of their shapes they roll and wash away easily. Similarly, don’t use a fine particle mulch, such as choc mini chip, in windy or seasonally flooded areas since they can blow or float away easily. Of course, aesthetics may weigh heavier in your final decision.



On steep slopes, shredded mulch is best such as Forest® Floor, it’s a well-known mulch used by many councils and landscapers known for staying in place and suppressing weeds due to the way it specially binds together.

Pathways: For easiest walking, use a finer bark chip. The small particle size of pathway bark are better for walking compared with mulches with larger particle sizes.

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Our Truck Volumes

3T Truck

Full truck load volumes
  • Bark: 7m³
  • Compost: 4m³
  • Supersoil: 3m³
  • Soil: 3m³
  • Shell: 3m³
  • Stone: 1.5m³

7.5T Truck

Full truck load volumes
  • Bark: 20m³
  • Compost: 10m³
  • Supersoil: 7m³
  • Shell: 8m³

11T Truck

Full truck load + trailer volumes
  • Bark: 25m³ - 65m³
  • Compost: 17m³ - 38m³
  • Supersoil: 12m³ - 29m³
  • Shell: 12m³ - 30m³

In Canterbury or other regions? We offer bulk truck and trailer load volumes throughout the South Island.

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Below is a list of our retailers. Please contact them for stock and supply.

PLEASE NOTE: Not all of our products are supplied to all retailers. We can only guarantee product quality of products we manufacture.

  • Wholesale Landscapes – Stoke Yard (that's us!)
  • Stoke Garden & Landscapes
  • Bay Landscapes & Garden Centre
  • Goldpine Richmond
  • Māpua Landscapes
  • Stonescape Garden Supplies (Concrete & Metals)
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  • Woodend Landscape Supplies
  • Amberley Hire & Landscape Supplies
  • Hanmer Landscape Supplies
  • Garden Box – Middleton
  • Urban Paving & Landscape Supplies – Harewood
  • Pearsons Landscape Supplies – Bromley
  • Styx Mill Landscape & Nursery  – Styx
  • Mitre 10 Mega Ferrymead
  • Odering Garden Centre Christchurch - Philpotts
  • Odering Garden Centre Christchurch - Barrington
  • Mainscape Garden Supplies
South Canterbury
  • Fulton Hogan Timaru
  • Ashburton Contracting Ltd (ACL)
  • Centaland
  • CMT Group
  • Kaikōura Landscape Supplies

Pick-Up Information

We welcome pick-up of product by the public for volumes 1m³ and over. Please check your estimated trailer weight rating below. If your trailer is unable to hold the weight of our minimum pick-up volume, please book a delivery. *We require a minimum order quantity of 3m³ for any bark, compost, soil or shell products and a minimum order quantity of 1.5m3 for any stones or aggregates.

Standard trailer
(750kg limit)
  • Bark / Mulches
  • Shell
  • Compost
  • Soil
  • Stones / Aggregates
Tandem trailer
(1,500kg limit)
  • Bark / Mulches
  • Shell
  • Compost
  • Soil
  • Stones / Aggregates
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(2,000kg limit)
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  • Shell
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  • Soil
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Recommended depths

Typically you need a finishing layer of screened soil of 100mm when working with an uneven surface. 100mm of soil will allow to even out any hollows and give enough depth to create a flat surface

A general rule for compost is to allow for the depth of the current root structure of your plants with an additional 30-50% to mix in with the base. If you’re planting into holes or filling up a vege garden  you will need to accommodate for this prior to filling up

We recommend 100mm (10cm) deep for new bark gardens and planting into bare areas. For existing gardens with some cover, we recommend 75mm-100mm (7.5cm-10cm)

Note: Barked areas for playground impact protection need to meet NZS5828:2015 standards and is calculated on the fall areas and the height of the playground. Please contact us to discuss your barked playground areas

For paths and driveways which are often exposed to car and foot traffic, we recommend 100mm-125mm (10cm-12.5cm) on newly prepared areas due to settling of product.

This excludes preparation, compaction or drainage gravel underneath. For existing areas 75mm thickness is recommended for areas needing a small top-up.