Storing Bagged Mulch: Can You Store Bagged Mulch

Image by Phil Roeder

By Bonnie L. Grant

Bagged mulch is a convenient ground cover, soil amendment and attractive addition to garden beds. Unused bagged mulch needs to be stored properly so it doesn’t mold, attract insects or turn sour. Bad mulch can be detrimental to plant health and it smells bad and sticks together inside the bag, making it hard to spread. But then what to do with leftover mulch? You can store bagged mulch in a dry area until the next season.

Mulch and Its Uses

Organic mulch is invaluable as a soil conditioner. It also helps prevent competitive weeds and conserve soil. As mulch breaks down and enters the soil, it adds nutrients and increases the tilth and porosity of the soil.


Many gardeners choose cedar mulch for its beauty and scent. Mixed mulches may have a variety of bark and organic matter and come in a wide range of sizes and textures. The finer bark mulches compost into soil more quickly than the larger pieces.

Bagged mulch, which is commonly bark, is convenient and does not require wheelbarrows and shovels. You can simply install it by sprinkling it around plants and then raking it smooth. It is often hard to tell how much mulch you need, so purchasing excess is common. Can you store bagged mulch? Yes. The key is keeping the product dry and ventilated when storing unused bagged mulch.

How to Store Bark Mulch

Mulch that comes in bulk by the yard is easy to store. You will want to move the leftover pile to a hidden place with weed barrier fabric or a large tarp underneath. Spread the pile out slightly to allow maximum air to flow around the mulch and prevent mildew and mold.

Use a roof tarp anchored by soil staples or rocks over the pile. The mulch will preserve for several months. Don’t be alarmed if you see long white, hair-like strands in the mulch when you finally use it. This is mycelia and is formed of hyphae, which are fruited fungal spores. Mycelia is good for plants and decomposes dead organic matter.

What to Do with Leftover Mulch in Bags

Bagged mulch comes in plastic sacks as a rule. These do not allow the mulch to breath and can increase the formation of mold and cause decay and odor. Poke some tiny holes in the bag if you are storing bagged mulch as it came for just a few weeks.

For long term storage, pour the mulch out onto a tarp and cover it with another tarp to keep it dry. Let some of the edges poke up so air can circulate underneath and keep the mulch dry. Ventilation is important when storing bagged mulch to slow down the decay process and prevent fungal blooms.

Fixing Mulch Problems

If your mulch has gone sour, it will smell like rotten eggs or vinegar. The best way to fix this is by spreading it out to dry. Turn the pile frequently and let the sun and air cook out the toxins. Using the mulch without cleaning it up can cause plant problems.

These start out as yellowing leaves, scorched appearing foliage, loss of vigor and then escalate to plant death in some cases. Store your mulch with plenty of ventilation and in a dry area, and it will remain fresh and sweet smelling for months.

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