- Long lasting- stone will not have to be replaced over time
- Cost- while the initial cost is higher than mulch it’s a one time expense and you won’t have to add to it each year
- Fire proof- rock is not a flammable material and can be a good option for areas near a fire pit
- Durability- rock isn’t going to be affected by the elements and it will withstand more wear and tear than mulch
- Drainage- if your property has drainage issues stones will not hold water
- Soil temperature- rock will hold heat and raise the temperature of the soil in the summer, this can cause stress and dehydration for plants
- Nutrients- since rock won’t decompose there isn’t a nutritional benefit to using it, it also causes soil to be more alkaline while most trees prefer acidic soil
- Flexibility- rocks are heavy and difficult to move so they aren’t a great option if you’re wanting to plant annuals or if you think you might want to rearrange plants at a later date
When is Rock the Right Option: Rock is a good choice to go around buildings, decks, pools, and fire pits. If you decide to use rock around plants it’s best to stick to heat-resistant shrubs and trees that you plan to keep in the same spot for many years to come.
- Moisture- mulch retains water and helps plants stay hydrated, studies have found that wood chips held up to 3 1/2 inches of water per foot of mulch
- Cost- the initial cost for mulch is much less than stone
- Flexibility- if you enjoy planting annuals or if you think you may want to move plants around at a later date mulch can be moved around easily
- Plant health- when mulch decomposes it puts nutrients back into the soil, it helps insulate against temperature changes and studies have shown it can nearly double the rate of tree growth
- Weeds- mulch reduces weed growth and germination
- Soil erosion- mulch naturally helps prevent soil erosion
- Maintenance- mulch needs to be freshened up each year because heavy rain or wind can remove pieces
- Flammable- mulch isn’t a great option near fire rings or outdoor BBQ areas because of its flammable properties
- Fading- over time the color will fade from sun and exposure to the elements, this is another reason why mulch has to be periodically replaced
When is Mulch the Right Option- If you want a material that is more affordable initially and you enjoy planting annuals each year mulch might be a good choice. Mulch provides a lot of flexibility if you want to be able to move plants around or try something different periodically.
If you like both rock and mulch, there are landscape designs that can incorporate both for a dynamic and textured look!