How to Dye Your Mulch

Handheld garden sprayer in the grass.
  • 0-1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-40
What You'll Need
2-gallon all-purpose sprayer
Mulch dye
Old clothing
Plastic covers or tarps

Whether your personal preference is for a natural look or a dyed color mulch, using mulch is always a good practice in the landscape to maintain moisture around your plants and to keep weeds down. Even in its blandest form, mulch adds a different aesthetic to your gardens and landscaping that soil alone can't provide, but dying your mulch can take things to a brighter, eye-catching level with relatively little effort.

Follow these steps to learn how to dye mulch for an inexpensive way to keep your garden looking bright and attractive without having to replace faded mulch. These dyes are simple to use and are known to last almost a year from the time they are applied.


Because it's a somewhat new practice, mulch dye has been the center of much discussion regarding whether its ultimately a dangerous practice that negatively affects your soil. However, the jury's still out, and no discussions have pointed to it being problematic at present. The materials used in the dyes more than the dyes themselves are usually what prove harmful. Proceed only if you are comfortable with this uncertainty.

Step 1 – Chose Your Mulch Dye

You will often have up to 10 colors to choose from, depending on what your local retailer supplies. Some colors are more natural, such as cedar and redwood. Others include black, yellow, and red. You will be happier with your color selection if you choose one that is closer to that of your existing mulch. That way, if you miss a spot when applying the dye, the missed spots will not have a glaringly different color than mulch that has been dyed.

Step 2 – Plan and Prep

Mulch pieces that dry when stained will ultimately look more attractive, will have fewer color streaks, and more even coloring. It requires a minimum of 6 hours drying time after dying and before it can get wet. So, plan your dying at a time when no precipitation is expected.

Step 3 – Protect the Surroundings

Before mixing and applying your dye, use plastic sheeting to cover surfaces, plants, lawns, and other areas that you don't want colored. Protect surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, buildings, and trees that border areas to be dyed.

Be sure to wear gloves and old clothing when using the dye in case of any messes.

Step 4 – Mix Your Mulch Dye

Into a sprayer that hold at least 2 gallons of liquid, pour 1 1/2 gallons of water and a 12-ounce bottle of mulch dye. This should be enough to cover a 200 square foot area, or an area of 14x14 feet, with color. When the dye has been added to the sprayer, replace the sprayer cap and shake the sprayer until the dye is well mixed with the water. A well-mixed container of dye and water is essential to apply the color evenly.

If the area to be covered exceeds 200 square feet, mix enough dye to cover your entire area before starting to apply the color. It's a good idea to get your measurements ahead of time so that you can anticipate the quantity you'll need.

Step 5 - Apply the Dye to Your Mulch

To get an even color, hold the sprayer head 6 inches from the mulch. Varying this distance will likely result in uneven colors. Spray back and forth, overlapping each pass until the entire area is covered.