Green, frugal, sustainable, simple, healthy, happy... No matter what we each call it, we come together here to support and learn from each other.

We are preserving our planet with our lifestyles. We are creating sustainable communities for our children. We are living the lives we want to live. Please join us!


All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

Join Us Here, Too

Buy Sustainably

Join us in saving our family budgets and helping our local communities thrive.

10,000 Steps

With numerous environmental, physical and emotional benefits, what are you waiting for? Let's start walking!

Green Your Insides

For your family and our planet, start greening your own home.

Great Reading

Hay Is For Horses, Straw Is For Mulch

I love using straw for mulch – it’s cheap, breaks down easily, provides a nice cushion along garden paths, and extra bales are wonderful seats in the garden.

Most feed stores will sell both hay and straw, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the feed store and questioned myself about whether or not I was getting the right one.  I’ve noticed that many garden blogs use the two terms interchangeably, but they are ABSOLUTELY AND UTTERLY NOT THE SAME.  Gardeners beware!

Hay Is For Horses by Montanabw on Wikipedia

Hay? No Way! Hay Is For Horses!

Hay.  Hay is for horses… and pigs and cows and goats.  In the store it’s often a bit greener than straw.  Hay has SEEDS in it.  So unless you want to grow hay all over your garden, don’t buy hay for mulch.  Hay?  No Way!

Straw by Adamantios on Wikipedia

Straw Is For Mulch

Straw is a by-product of the wheat, oat, rye, or barley industries.  After the seeds have been threshed and sold, the dry husks are bundled up and sold as straw.  Straw, therefore, is without seeds.  Straw saves seedlings.  Straw is for mulch!

Any Questions?

Have you made the mistake of using hay?

Similar Posts:

10 comments to Hay Is For Horses, Straw Is For Mulch

  • Arno

    Absolutely! Straw is the ideal mulch — light, airy, lets rain through, smothers weeds, adds organic matter to the soil. Hay (which I learned through miserable experience) is a curse because of the seeds.
    Grass clippings are a good substitute, as long as the grass hasn’t started to seed.

  • Attila

    And the cost difference!!!!! Hay is so much more expensive! I worked with horses (more years ago than I care to mention) and once some…ahem….body (NOT me!) bedded down a loose box with hay! The boss went bonkers!!!! Straw is paler, thicker, a similar appearance all over. Hay is thinner, greenish when it’s new, getting golder as it ages. And I don’t know how many times the price of hay!

  • Melinda, I just discovered your blog yesterday and I wanted to tell you how impressed I am. It’s so thorough, I think it will take me days to go through it all!

    Regarding straw. I’ve never made the mistake of using hay – not sure how, but I’ve always been aware of the difference. But straw mulch can attract critters like voles, who just love setting up housekeeping in it. The wee beasties ate most of my carrots and beets last year and I finally resorted to snap traps around the edges of my garden beds. Just wanted to give folks a heads up – providing a happy home for voles is the one and only drawback I’ve found using straw mulch.

  • Haydee Sheen

    Wow. I am learning a lot of very neat stuff from this site. It will be promptly added to my bookmarks. I am planning to retire soon and want to do a lot of gardening. I live in Central Texas, so we have short winters, and long, hot summers. I will plant heirloom vegetables this spring. Wish me luck!

  • Jenny L.

    When my husband and I got married 2&1/2years ago we used straw for guest seating. We have been using it in our gardens ever since. This year it really seems to be decomposing quickly. Is it still ok to use it?

  • Jesse Jansen

    Cool, I am very excited to give straw a chance this year. I thank you for your knowledge Melinda. I just installed a new drip line through out my 300 square feet garden along with weed guard. Next step is to cut the weed guard in the section I am placing the plants and than I add nutrients in the hole, cover, compost the top, and then put the straw mulch on top of that. Thanks for adding another layer

  • Joe Harrell

    Where can I buy straw in large ammounts?

    • Hi Joe, I’d suggest calling up your local feed store – they will either be able to provide you with the quantity you need or direct you to their distributor for larger amounts.

  • Jenna

    So, there is a local guy that sells hay and straw and I bought some for our garden. I asked for straw and imagine my frustration upon realizing there were still seeds in it. ALL over my garden. Wheat, I think. I may go to a normal store and get some straw to try again…after I spend the next three days weeding the wheat.

Leave a Reply to Joe Harrell




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>