Will Grass Grow Through Mulch? Helpful Examples!

Grass and weeds need light and warm soil to survive. If you pull them out, they often thrive back. A more natural way to keep weeds out of your garden is mulching. Can grass grow through mulch?

The growth rate of invasive grass species is faster than that of most other plants. Mulch can prevent grasses and weeds from growing for some time. Too-thin, decomposed, or inappropriate mulch can allow grass to sprout through it.

Fast-growing grass can suffocate your plants’ root network with its own. Grass and weeds compete with your plants for nutrients. You can take preventive and corrective measures to avoid weed invasions.

Determine what types of grass you have and how it multiplies and spreads. Grass types use varying methods to find suitable soil or soil substitutes.

What Are The Chances Of Grass Growing In Mulch?

Grass can invade mulched beds through seeds spread by wind, animals, or mowers. Wind can blow away mature grass seed heads near mulched beds. 

Some of these seeds can germinate when they fall through the gaps between the mulch and reach the soil. The digging of animals in mulch can also help the growth of grasses.

Certain grass species use runners to enter mulched areas. Stolons are above-ground runners, while rhizomes are underground runners. Stolons creep along the surface until they find soil suitable for growing roots. 

Rhizomes function below the surface. Instead of extending downward, they curve upward when they reach suitable soil. Rhizomes emerge above the surface as new grass shoots over time. Both rhizomes and stolons can invade mulch layers near lawns or wild runner grasses.

How To Prevent Grass And Weeds From Growing Through Mulch?

Mulch can control grass and weed intrusion. Mulch layers discourage grass and weeds growth. Plants cannot emerge from the soil because it blocks sunlight.

Cover the soil with landscaping fabric and mulch it: 

Simple and efficient, this solution creates a solid protective barrier. Surround your plants with landscaping fabric by laying it above the bare soil. Cover it with mulch for double protection. 

This barrier prevents grass seeds from germinating if they travel past the mulch. Those that traverse under the mulch cannot take root or shoot upwards.

Newspaper is a porous, biodegradable, and soil-enhancing alternative to landscape fabric. Overlap newspapers to avoid gaps that weeds could push through, then soak them well. Cover the newspaper or cardboard with at least 5-8 cm of loose, well-rotted organic mulch.

Placing 4-6 sheets of newspaper on the soil surface will create a firm barrier between the soil and mulch. This video will show you how to use newspapers to cover the ground.

You will need to replenish organic mulches as they rot down. Keep adding another inch or two of organic matter every couple of months. Avoid lifting weeds from the ground with tools. It will puncture the newspaper layer.

Maintain a small gap between the mulch beds and the grass:

The gap or edge makes it challenging for runners to cross and find places to set roots. It deters grass runners and even some seeds from entering mulched areas. 

Bricks, concrete blocks, or similar materials also can make a gap. It will serve as a wall to prevent runners from heading near the mulch.

You can also use herbicides to suppress grass and weeds. Avoid using harsh chemicals to destroy the grass. They can harm your plants as well. Herbicides are resistant to most grasses. So, you may have to increase the strength of the spray later on.

A mix of vinegar, salt, and soap is an effective homemade solution to control grass and weeds. Mix 3.8 liters (1 gallon) of vinegar with a cup of salt and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Spray the grass shoots and weeds on a day full of sunlight.

Do I Need To Remove The Grass Before Mulching?

Grass removal is crucial to achieving successful results. It helps the mulch stay in place for a long and allows for its efficient use. Grassroots, shoots, or seeds can still sprout if you have not removed them. If the grass height is less than 3 inches, you can abstain from removing them.

Pulling out weeds is vital to getting the most out of mulching. You can use a garden spade to remove perennial weeds and other unwanted plants. A mulch of 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) will prevent most weed seeds from sprouting. Watch this video to learn more about sheet mulching.

Weeds and grass can host plant viruses and attract pests. Removing well-grown weeds by hand pulling or hoeing can disturb your plants’ roots. Perennial weeds can push through light mulch. A rotavator can help clear the ground faster. Its blades chop the weeds into tiny pieces.

How Can I Mend An Existing Mulch?

Remove the mulch from the bed using a rake. Pluck out grass or weeds and lay some landscaping fabric on the ground. Newspapers make an alternative to covering the ground. Once the weed barrier is in place, replace the mulch layer on top of it.

Will Grass Grow Over Wood Chips?

Grass can grow over wood chips, but it won’t be as healthy. You can expect better results when the topsoil percentage is high. If not, remove the wood chips or mulch before laying the sod. 

Grass will grow through wood chips if the layer is too thin. Remove the turf and apply a thick layer of wood chips.

Can I Put Topsoil Over Mulch?

You can put topsoil over top of mulch if the mulch is thin and aerated. 1/2-1 inch of topsoil can promote drainage and increase nutrition levels. Add new soil only after the mulch has dried well. 

Soaked mulch will trap moisture and grow bacteria. Remove excess mulch using a shovel or rake. Apply rich topsoil to help your plants grow. Be gentle when you press the soil into the mulch using your hands or the back of a shovel. Water it as often as the plants need it.

Will Plants Grow Through Mulch?

Some plants, like bulbs or crowns, can sprout through the mulch in the spring. Under mulch or on top of mulch, seeds do not shoot up well. The mulch does not provide a conducive environment for young seedlings to root. 

Weeds will find it easy to grow through thin mulch layers. Certain flower species can grow through mulch. Small annuals under mulch have a low chance of thriving.


Avoid making the mulch layer thicker. Water cannot soak into the soil if the mulch layer is too thick. A mulch too close to the plant’s base can suffocate its roots. It can overheat the ground in hot sunny weather. Excess moisture can encourage diseases. 

Repeat usage of the same mulch over a long can change soil pH. Keep mulch 3-4 inches away from the plant’s base. It should be 12-18 inches for trees.

Similar Posts