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Mulch: Bag or Bulk

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Skookum, Mar 26, 2001.

  1. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 675

    Just curious if anyone else thinks using bagged mulch is easier to put down than using bulk mulch?

    Several years ago I had a discussion with another LCO about this issue. He agreed with me that it was much quicker and easier to put down bagged mulch than bulk. He said he had put down bagged mulch in half the time with two guys helping on an account that the year before took twice as long with three guys using bulk hardwood.

    I have noticed that this season, I have seen more and more LCO's out with trucks and trailers full of bagged mulch.

    I like the breakdown benefit of bulk hardwood mulch versus the longer lasting effect of the bagged cypress, which is all we can seem to get around here in a bag. I wish they sold bagged hardwood around here.

    Anybody use mainly bagged?
  2. joshua

    joshua LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,226

    scott last time i checked bag mulched is alot more $$$ than bulk, the method i use for bulk is flawless,i take out about a yard of mulch in 20 mins, including getting it off the truck and spreding it, 2 man crew incase you wondered.
  3. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    Our clients have the option for either bagged or bulk.

    We buy the 3.5 cuft bags for $2.33 bag/ $20.97 yard and charge $58/yd installed.

    For the bulk mulch we buy it for $14/yd mark it up to $28/yd and then charge $55-75/yd installed depending on site conditions.

    Most LCOs in our area use the bulk, but are buying it from the Agways and Nurseries for $30-$45/yd and then lose money to install it to stay competitive.

    We can hammer out the bagged product for most installs alot quicker than the bulk products. My personal preference is the bulk hardwoods.

    Good Luck this season!

  4. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,205

    nobody up this way uses bagged mulch on their commercial accounts. i think it is just way easier to spread bulk mulch.
  5. jeffyr

    jeffyr LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 876

    I think the bulk is easier if you can use it off the truck. Around here the bagged (cedar or hemlock) is 4.15 for 3.0cuft. and in bulk works out to be the same. I would rather the bagged then since 5 Yards is stacked neatly on a 4x4 ft pallett. That allows my 4-5 yard dump to carry 10 yards of mulch in a 4x8 area on the bed. less trips to the supplier is better in my eyes.

  6. toddco

    toddco LawnSite Member
    from Seattle
    Messages: 56

    You said:

    >>I like the breakdown benefit of bulk hardwood
    >>mulch versus the longer lasting effect of the
    >>bagged cypress

    Can you clarify what the breakdown benefit is? Is it providing more nutrients or stopping weeds? Or is the cypress lasting beyond one season and reducing income?

  7. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 675

    My comment about the breakdown of hardwood mulch is that, from what I have seen, the breaksdown of hardwood is quicker turning into a very useful richer soil addition to the beds. The cypress mulch has a longer staying power with bigger chunks of wood that just seem to last forever.

    Under hardwood mulched beds that have been harwood for several years, the soil is a black richer look. Under cypress it just looks like normal soil. Of course, I am talking about beds with no form of weed barrier fabrics.

    I have seen no real difference in weed benefits. Both seem to grow weeds and grass very well. I have seen more insect activity in hardwood versus the cypress.

    Here locally, I cannot buy bulk mulch wholesale. Retail bulk mulch is $26.00 a cubic yard for hardwood and $45.00 a cubic yard for cypress. Bagged cypress mulch from the local walmarts are 3 cubic feet bags @ $2.47 a bag, which comes to $22.23 a cubic yard. I only need about 40 cubic yards this year. I have put down the bags at 5 commercial accounts for several years with much quicker results than the few places I have done using bulk.

    Since, I have seen more LCO's this year hauling bagged mulch, I thought I would start this thread to see if others are seeing what I have seen in the quicker install times using bagged.

    [Edited by Skookum on 03-27-2001 at 01:25 AM]
  8. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    In my experience, bagged mulch, because of the ease of handling - loading, unloading, getting it to beds - is quicker to apply. Exception to this is when you can shovel directly from truck or trailer into beds - like parking lot islands.

    But I will rarely use bagged mulch. I have grudgedly used it on client's insistance only. The bagged mulch is too much wood content. Since the wood takes so much longer to decay than bark, regular use of mulch with excess wood content will cause mulch depth to increse to point where it is necessary to remove mulch - plants can be easily harmed if depth exceeds 4".

    I was spoiled by using "shredded bark" many years ago, and still hope for someone to make it available again. True "Shredded bark" has to be mostly readily decayed bark, i.e., less than 15% wood content. The excess wood in today's bagged and bulk mulches bleaches rapidly and is a mess because it does not pack like old shredded bark. I see a lot of floating in rains, even floating several feet outside of beds.

    One alternative I learned of last year is to use screened bulk mulch. The wholesale bulk mulch producers will screen larger pieces out of normal mulch for the operators of mulch blowers. This costs $1 to $1.50 more per cu yd at wholesale level. Since I use much less than a semi load each year, I hope to purchase as needed in 3 to 8 yd pickups from one of the larger operators here.

    And don't forget about the big guys with bark blowers. Think seroiusly about subbing large jobs to them. Anyone who ever did 80 yards on one site with wheelbarrows knows what work is. A 3-man blower crew did a friend's account like this in one day, and this with a relatively small blower unit. Just dumped trailer at site, and loaded with bobcat on site. Cost him around $40 cu yd. And what do you charge client per yard?
  9. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    The $40/cuyd price above was a special circumstance because it was almost exactly one bulk trailer delivery. Did not have to be rehandled by the blower crew - moved from site to site. It was delivered to the work site by the producer, rather than to the company yard. A more typical price for subbed bark blowing in our area would be in the $50 to $65 range, depending on the size of the machine and the size of the job.

    OBRYANMAINT LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    most use bulk here as i do

    double ground dark wood
    not necessarily bark but good in color
    i buy it off a commercial tree company

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