Mulch 101

What can you do to make sure your mulch is sustainable?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


« return to main article

If you’ve read Michael Behar’s “Mulch Madness,” you already know that the sale of cypress mulch is threatening to destroy Louisiana’s best defense against hurricanes and one of the country’s most diverse ecosystems. And once destroyed, Louisiana’s cypress will never return.

So what can you to help? Wherever you live, making sustainable choices in your own garden is a great first step.

1) The first question to consider when planning to mulch your garden is whether you need to buy mulch at all. One of the biggest myths about cypress mulch is that it is especially rot resistant. In fact, the young trees that are being harvested are just as susceptible to rot as other species. So instead of buying mulch, take a lesson from Mother Nature, and consider using fallen leaves or pine needles in place of commercial mulch.

2) If you must buy bagged mulch, question your supplier closely to make sure you are not buying Louisiana cypress mulch or any other mulch that is not sustainably harvested. A good alternative to cypress is pine, which has many of the same properties but is far more abundant and harvested as a byproduct of the pine lumber industry.

3) Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot are the largest commercial sellers of mulch. Wal-Mart has already agreed not to sell Louisiana cypress mulch, Lowe’s has a moratorium on cypress harvested from certain parts of Louisiana, and Home Depot is still crafting its policy, but all three can take steps to ensure that whatever mulch they do sell is sustainably harvested.

Learn More and Take Action:
To read more about local and national organizations working together to fight cypress mulching and Louisiana restoration projects, please visit:

Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, (225) 659-2499

Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, (225) 767-4181

Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), (504) 525-1528

Louisiana Cypress Purchase Legacy, (504) 891-7116

Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, (225) 928-1315

Save Our Cypress

Waterkeeper Alliance, 914.674.0622


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend