Do you have landscaping projects planned for this year?
Many of us do, whether it’s due to acquiring a new house and yard, or simply ideas to spruce up an existing area. And for most of us gardeners, as well as buying flowers, trees, and shrubs every year, mulch has become an ever-present component to put the finishing touch on your outdoor space.
If you use organic mulch, especially, you’ll notice a decrease in mulch depth each year as the mulch breaks down, adding welcome nutrients to the soil.
But mulch, just like everything else, can add up if you’re needing quite a bit of it.
The average price of a 2 cubic foot bag of mulch can range anywhere from $3 to $8, depending on several factors – brand, composition, color, and season of purchase. And since a 2 cubic foot bag, when spread 3” deep, will only cover an area of 8 square feet, mulching a large area of your yard can get expensive.
It’s best to plan ahead and load up on mulch while it’s on sale. I like to buy an entire pallet full of mulch once per year, as we have a large property with multiple gardens. It’s very convenient for me to not have to run to town every time I need a bag.
This article will cover the best times to stock up on mulch, what to look out for when choosing mulch on sale, and other tips for decreasing your expenses for this gardening staple.
Table of Contents
- Is there a Time of Year that Mulch Goes on Sale?
- What Kinds of Mulch Sales Can You Expect?
- Check for Mold when Buying Mulch on Sale!
- When Does Home Depot Mulch Typically Go on Sale?
- When Does Lowe’s Mulch Typically Go on Sale?
- Do Local Nurseries Ever Offer Mulch Sales and Discounts?
- Tips to Save Money with Mulch
- Final Thoughts
Is there a Time of Year that Mulch Goes on Sale?
Fortunately, we’re able to predict when mulch will go on sale by looking at the data from years past. As home improvement stores will compete with each other’s prices, we often see mulch sales running at major stores simultaneously.
If you shop at Home Depot or Lowe’s, you can expect at least four big sale dates throughout the calendar year.
- Spring “Black Friday” sale – varies a little between zip codes, but often starts at the end of March and usually runs until mid-April.
- Memorial Day sale – usually starts on a Wednesday or Thursday, mid-month in May, and runs until May 31st.
- July 4th sale – this year (2023) follows the pattern of years past – begins June 22, ends July 5
- Labor Day sale – usually begins (mid-week) the last week of August and ends the day after Labor Day
What Kinds of Mulch Sales Can You Expect?
Mulch sales can be a little confusing, as the bags are not all packaged at the same volume. Some brands/bags will contain 1.5 cubic feet, while others contain 2 cubic feet.
It’s important to be aware of the price per cubic foot when comparing sales to get the best deal. Sometimes, the cubic foot price is displayed to the left of the item price, on a semi-permanent tag adhered to the shelf. But during sales, stores often just have a sign advertising the sale price, and you’re left to figure the price per cubic foot yourself.
To do this, take the sale price (for example, $3.33 for a “3 for $10” sale) and divide it by the amount in each bag – which is usually displayed prominently on the bag’s front, “2 CU FT” or “1.5 CU FT”. The resulting figure will be the price per cubic foot, which will enable you to more accurately judge between bags that are packaged at different volumes.
$3.33 divided by 2 cubic feet = $1.66 per cubic foot
A lot of brands have a regular price set at around $1.70 per cubic foot, so if you’re looking for a good sale price, try to find one that is less than that.
A sale of “5 for $10”, on a bag containing 1.5 cubic feet, works out to be $1.33 per cubic foot – awesome deal!
Some of the best deals we’ve seen at both Home Depot and Lowe’s in past years include:
- 5 bags for $10 (you usually don’t have to buy 5 bags to get the deal), brands vary
- 3 bags for $10, brands vary
- 50% off Scott’s Earthgro Colored Mulch at Home Depot
- 50% off Vigoro Mulch at Home Depot
- 50% off Lowe’s Premium Mulch
As a general policy, Home Depot offers a 10% discount if you buy more than 30 bags of any type of mulch at once, in store only, though this may vary by zip code.
After confirming this by telephone, I then spoke with a Lowe’s associate, and was told that Lowe’s does not currently offer a discount for large quantity bagged mulch purchases.
Check for Mold when Buying Mulch on Sale!
If you’ve ever stored bags of mulch for longer than a few months, you may have noticed upon opening some bags that a white, powdery mildew has started to grow among the bark chips.
This mold is the natural result of heat and moisture combined with organic material in a quasi-sealed environment.
According to the experts, white powdery mold, or fuzzy mold will not harm your plants, or pose any risk to your health when spreading it (though it’s good practice for sensitive individuals to wear a mask when spreading old mulch, as a precaution). The sunlight will eventually dry up the mold spores once it’s spread out on your garden beds.
But would you choose to buy mulch that had that appearance to begin with? Probably not.
Be aware that the first big sales of the year in early spring are an opportunity for home improvement stores to get rid of last year’s leftover mulch (and soil).
Even if moldy mulch is harmless, it still may not be desirable – either aesthetically, or for the simple fact that mulch does have a shelf life… and it’s not free! You’ll have to replace the mulch in your garden over time, any way – do you really want to buy mulch that’s had a head start in decomposition?
Some bags have a “use by” date, stamped on the bottom or back, but it’s notoriously hard to find. While shopping, you may want to inspect the mulch through the clear backing of the bags, checking for mold or fungus, to ensure you’re not buying last year’s mulch.
When Does Home Depot Mulch Typically Go on Sale?
Home Depot typically has big sales four times per year on gardening supplies. Keep an eye peeled for advertisements just before the following times.
- Early Spring – either late March or early April – this annual sale seems to occur right before Easter, and lasts up to 13 days
- Memorial Day – usually starts mid-month in May and runs until May 31st
- July 4th – the sale is generally 11 – 13 days long, starting in the last week of June and ending the day after the holiday
- Labor Day – starting the third or fourth week in August and ending the day after Labor Day
Some years, Home Depot will run a Black Friday sale in November, but often the gardening supplies have been picked over.
When Does Lowe’s Mulch Typically Go on Sale?
Lowe’s often runs sales simultaneously with Home Depot. Check for advertisements during these four key times of year.
- Late March to early April – usually staring on a Wednesday or Thursday and running for a week and a half.
- Memorial Day – often the biggest sale on mulch you’ll find all year. Look for it to start in mid-May.
- July 4th – sometimes Lowe’s will have a shorter July 4th sale than Home Depot, but with better deals.
- Labor Day – Labor Day sales at Lowe’s are a good time to stock up on items for wintering over your gardens, including mulch. Sales run from late August to just after the holiday.
Occasionally, Lowe’s will have a Black Friday sale in November for gardening supplies, but don’t expect much variety.
Do Local Nurseries Ever Offer Mulch Sales and Discounts?
If you search Google for mulch sales in your local area, you may well find a local nursery’s sale that will match or even be cheaper than the ones at the bigger home improvement stores. A few minutes searching online could save you more than a few dollars!
Typically, your best mulch deal from a local nursery would involve a loose, bulk mulch order, delivered in a dump truck to your yard.
Although you can get the same service from either Lowe’s or Home Depot, the smallest amount you can buy in loose mulch from these stores will be 5 cubic yards, running between $300 – $500, depending on the variety, as well as your zip code. You may have more flexibility regarding quantity with a local nursery.
Tips to Save Money with Mulch
1. Pick Up Your Own Mulch
If you own a pick-up truck, or can borrow one from a friend, you’re in a good position to get loose mulch cheaper, purchased by the cubic yard. Check with local nurseries to get a price for pick-up of the quantity you desire.
2. Have Mulch Delivered (Recommended for Large Quantities)
Instead of buying dozens of bags, or making multiple trips to the store, consider having a large quantity of loose mulch delivered to your yard. It will save you time and money. Be sure to have an area set up prior to delivery and consider spreading a large tarp out to minimize the mess.
3. Order Mulch on Amazon!
Amazon offers a variety of mulch products from the big brand names to little companies, small amounts to large. There may be deals available in your area. Check them out here!
Prices often change quickly on Amazon, so check back often, if at first you don’t see a deal. Also, factor in the absence of your own gas money and time spent going to the store, to accurately compare the cost.
4. Create Your Own Mulch Instead!
Do you have a wooded area on your property that needs maintenance? If you’re already thinning out trees, you should consider making your own wood mulch. You can buy an electric wood chipper/shredder like the Sun Joe Machine here, and kill two birds with one stone. It could save you a ton of money over time.
5. Check Your Town’s Public Works Department
Many cities and towns will offer free mulch to residents in the spring, created from their routine tree service and park clean-up activities. Generally, they’ll have you add your name and address to a sign-up sheet and contact you when the time comes for a good delivery date.
Be aware, this mulch may be less perfect than what you’d buy at a store, (may contain some debris or even a small bit of trash), but for free, it’s quite a deal!
Mulching your yard doesn’t have to break the bank, if you plan ahead, take advantage of sales, and are willing to think outside the box.
Loading up on mulch when prices are down might be the best way to keep your yard looking great, without the headache of last-minute trips to the store and fluctuating prices hitting you when you’re already busy preparing for an outdoor gathering.
Michelle Weaver is a former pastry chef of thirty years who reinvented herself during the pandemic, now happily earning a living through freelance writing and selling her art. She and her significant other live in an 1895 farmhouse in North Carolina, where they have several acres, allowing her to garden to her heart’s content. When she’s not playing in the dirt, she enjoys hiking in the nearby mountains, creating new vegetarian recipes, and photographing the wildlife that comes to visit.