How to Change the Color of Mulch

My neighbor cut down a tree, and the landscape company gave us the resulting wood mulch. Is there a way to color the wood chips to match my existing cedar mulch?” – Denny

There are some spray-on products available for DIY mulch coloring, including Barkbrite Mulch Colorant and Mulch Magic. These products are typically sprayed thinly on top of an existing mulch layer, to refresh faded color on an otherwise sufficient mulch bed. It would be more difficult (and expensive!) to color an entire load of mulch using these products.

At approximately $30 per half-gallon for mulch colorant, your money might be better spent on a more environmentally-friendly solution. You could apply the wood chips as a base layer, then cover it with a very thin layer of the decorative mulch of your choice. That will give you the uniform color and texture you’re seeking, and you can continue with the decorative mulch after the wood chips are gone.

One last thought, the pigments used in mulch colorants, such as iron oxide and carbon black, are generally considered to be nontoxic, although even nontoxic substances should be used sparingly in the lawn and garden. We don’t always know the impact of applying even “natural” products to a fragile ecosystem. If you go this route, follow all package instructions very carefully, use as little as you have to, and make sure the colorant does not come into contact with driveways, lawns, or existing landscape plants unless you want them colored, too!

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  1. I actually got some some wood mulch form a local tree service and purchased a topical colorant, “EnviroColor” for only $30.00 and colored 3000 sq. ft. I thought was a great price considering the mulch was free. My dogs love the new back yard “Dog Park” and once the color dried I have had no tracking of color into the house. Since this was such a success, I purchased EnviroColor Georgia Pine colorant and treated my pine straw in Febuary. The color still looks great and my neighbors are jumping on the next wave of ground cover solutions!


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