Leaves. The Best Compost/Mulch
If you are doing this (see photo above) you should reconsider. Why? 1. The bags (which you fetched and paid for) are made from oil, which along with the contents, are then often added to the landfill. We will eventually runout of dumping space; many eastern states already have. 2. The best bed cover for your plants is NOT the bagged or bulked mulch (again, that you fetch and pay for at the garden center or elsewhere) but rather shredded leaves (black walnut being an obvious exception). There is no natural example of shredded wood/bark (that is what mulch is), and certainly not the dyed version. The natural way is your own, and maybe your neighbor's, shredded leaves. Simply set the mower at the highest setting and do a couple of passes before transferring the reduced bounty to your flower beds, or do it in the vegetable garden and leave them there. The shredding will reduce the volume, speed the breakdown and is a natural fertilizer and organic additive (i.e., helps hold moisture and reduce high soil temps). Your plants will thank you, you will save money and time. Asked any real master gardener, or simply notice that they never have bags of leaves for the dump. I highly recommend the discussion on LEAVES, Chapter 38 (composting) in my book, Rantings of a Mad Botanist.