Cocoa Shell Mulch: Tips For Using Cocoa Hulls In The Garden


By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Cocoa shell mulch is also known as cocoa bean mulch, cocoa bean hull mulch and cocoa mulch. When cocoa beans are roasted, the shell separates from the bean. The roasting process sterilizes the shells so that they are weed free and organic. Many gardeners enjoy the sweet smell and attractive appearance of cocoa shell mulch.

Cocoa Mulch Benefits

There are several cocoa mulch benefits to using cocoa hulls in the garden. Organic cocoa mulch, which contains nitrogen, phosphate and potash and has a pH of 5.8, adds beneficial nutrients to the soil.

Using cocoa hulls in the garden is an excellent way to increase soil vitality and is an attractive top cover for both flower beds and vegetable patches.

Cocoa bean hulls also help retain moisture in garden beds and reduce weeds organically, eliminating the need for chemical-laden herbicides.

Problems with Cocoa Bean Hulls

While cocoa bean hulls have many benefits, there are also a few downsides to using cocoa hulls in the garden and these should be taken into consideration prior to its use.

It’s crucial not to get the mulch overly wet. When cocoa shells are too wet and not allowed to dry out between watering, pests are attracted to the moist soil and mulch. If the soil under the mulch is moist to the touch, do not water.

In hot and humid climates, cocoa shell mulch may develop a harmless mold. However, a solution of 25 percent water and 75 percent white vinegar can be sprayed on the mold.

Is Cocoa Mulch Toxic to Dogs?

Is cocoa mulch toxic to dogs? This is one of the most common questions concerning cocoa hull beans, and no cocoa hull mulch information should fail to mention its potential toxicity to dogs. Dog owners need to beware when using cocoa shell mulch that the shells do contain varying amounts of two compounds that are toxic to dogs: caffeine and theobromine.

The sweet smell of the cocoa mulch is attractive to curious dogs and could be potentially dangerous. If you have animals that have access to mulched areas in your landscape, it’s wise to consider using another non-toxic mulch instead. If your dog accidentally ingests cocoa bean hulls, call your vet immediately.

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Ornamental mulch, cocoa hulls

Cocoa hull is an excellent mulch and an effective seasonal fertilizer.

Catching the eye and offering incredible agronomic properties, it is the perfect mulch for any garden plant and also on your decks and balcony.

Widely used by professional landscapers, cocoa hull is considered to be high-quality mulch.


Peat moss is more useful as a soil amendment than a mulch. If a garden has a heavy, clay soil, digging in some peat moss will improve the tilth (provide more air to the roots of the plant root). If peat moss is allowed to dry out, it creates a tough crust which will not allow water to penetrate the soil, so it is not recommended as a mulch material. Peat moss can also lower the pH of alkaline garden soil.

Maggie Fry began her writing career in 1986. She has written for publications including "Seattle Weekly" and the Rodale Institute's New Farm online magazine. Fry earned a certificate in permaculture design from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in 1997. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from Goucher College in 2013.


If you’re worried that your mammoth sunflowers or hollyhocks might fall and hurt themselves, use rubber mulch. Otherwise, save this product for playground areas, or if you crave the cushioned feeling underfoot, use it on your garden paths. Rubber mulch does nothing to amend the soil, and the pieces have an unpleasant way of migrating all over the landscape, creating a debris field that never goes away.

Horticulturists warn of the dangers of fresh wood chips robbing nitrogen from the soil as the wood decomposes. Fresh chips are safe to use as mulch, as long as they aren’t mixed into the soil. Finely ground sawdust can mat in the rain or blow away in dry weather and may make a better mulch when blended with straw or shredded bark.


Grass Clippings

Grass clippings come in two types – the lush green grass clippings and the dried up brown ones. The green clippings are ideal for your yard to increase the nitrogen level, which might not be the case with dried clippings. You might be surprised to find more than 25% of the nutrients to be added back to the soil which is removed from the soil when the plants grow.

Grass clippings decompose within a matter of a few weeks, making them a perfect choice for vegetable gardens. However, it’s recommended that you make sure the grass clippings are free from any herbicides or pesticides. It’s suggested that you use a thin layer of grass clippings to avoid it from stinking and rotting as they decompose.


The 5 Top Mulches for Vegetable Gardens

Best Overall

National Cocoa Shell BLCH001

Key Features

Rating: 4.5/5

If you enjoy chocolate dessert, we believe you’ll like this one. It’s made from cocoa bean shells, and it comes with a brown color that’s suited for all types of lawns. It has no synthetic additives, and it helps your soil retain moisture for a long time.


Watch the video: Transplanting Snowdrops, Weeding and Cocoa Shell Mulch. Clay Soil Garden


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