Bark dust vs compost as mulch or top dressing?

Asked November 10, 2015, 6:45 PM EST

I am about to have a complete new landscaping for both my front and back yards. The company that is providing a bid has included bark dust. I was taught many years ago that bark dust wasn't as good for the plants as a good quality compost for mulch. I'd like your knowledge on this.

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Adding compost to soil as an amendment before planting is a critical step to grow healthy plants. See improving soil with organic matter publication:

Mulch is put on the surface of soil to help to control weeds and keep the soil cool. Woody mulches slowly break down to add organic matter to the soil but should not be mixed into the soil as an amendment like compost. Bark dust is a great mulch to use because it is made of mostly carbon, which helps to keep weeds from germinating. Use a 3-4" layer of mulch around new plantings.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.