Answer: Nearly any organic material can be used as a mulch, so most gardeners end up using what is locally available at a reasonable price and looks good in the area where it is used. For a shrub bed, you might find that either shredded hardwood bark or bark nuggets are cost effective and long lasting. Alternatively you could use half finished compost, shredded rotted leaves, or even a layer of straw several inches thick. In most cases several inches of mulch is adequate year round and it should be placed to cover the root zone, typically to include the branch spread. It should be kept several inches away from the trunk to avoid the risk of trapping moisture against the bark and consequently inviting insects or decay.
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