When looking to landscape your property you might be considering mulch or landscaping stones. Both of these are common options for garden beds as well as for decoration, and many homeowners have used both to great effect. Which one will work best for you depends on several factors, and today we’ll look at the pros and cons for each. By the end, you should have the information you need to make an informed decision for your goals and property.
Bark mulch is typically made by shredding the bark of trees including cypress, pine, cedar, and others. Bark is cheap, easy to work with, and looks great in a variety of places. Mulch is often the default choice for lining garden beds or for decoration underneath trees and shrubbery.
A big perk for mulch is that it retains moisture better than soil alone which can help keep plants hydrated. This makes it a great option to cut down the amount of water needed for plants. This also provides a bit of protection against flooding as it can help prevent soil being washed away due to rains.
Mulch is also great for preventing weeds. Mulch is usually too dense for weeds to get through which alone is usually enough. For more hardy weeds, some mulches come pre-coated in weed killer which can further help prevent issues.
Easy To Use
Homeowners also enjoy the ease of use. Mulch is not prohibitively heavy, and is easy to spread. This makes it a simple chore to spread it through a garden bed.
Most mulch is also compostable which means it doesn’t need to be removed. It can safely be left, and will actually improve the soil it decomposes in.
Mulch is also very cheap and many homeowners don’t need to spend a lot to mulch their entire property. Even for larger properties, the amount needed per year is relatively low.
Must Be Replaced
The biggest con is that mulch will only be effective for a year or two. Both it’s looks and weed fighting properties will fade, and this means homeowners will need to keep up with it each year. This also means that over many years it can get quite costly.
Can be Washed away
Mulch is also prone to being washed away by heavy rains. It’s easily scattered and this can throw off some visual appeal. This is especially a problem as it ages if it isn’t replaced.
A fire hazard
Mulch is also flammable and can be a fire hazard. This is generally a larger concern in dry areas that don’t get much rain, but it’s something everyone should keep in mind.
Can attract Bugs
Mulch can also attract certain bugs. It requires yearly maintenance to make sure you don’t have pesky critters making it their home.
When To Use Mulch
Mulch is great for a variety of uses, and is almost never a bad choice. You can use mulch for anything from garden beds to paths, and everything in between. Use mulch in any situation where you want to provide some visual appeal while preventing weeds and keeping in moisture. If you’re aware of the needed upkeep, mulch makes an excellent addition to any property.
Rocks and Stones
Landscaping rocks come in a wide range of styles and sizes. You can get everything from small crushed gravel up to large stones. Rocks are great for adding variety to a landscape, and can fit in a lot of different designs. Rocks are often used in the same fashion as mulch, but there are some differences to keep in mind.
The big appeal rock has over mulch is that it’s much more permanent. You generally only need to put down rocks once and you’re set for many years.
Lower overall cost
Due to only needing to place them once, rocks will overtime become cheaper than mulch. It’s also cheaper in terms of time spent as you won’t need to replace it each year.
Rock generally comes in more colors and options than mulch. This can make it more visually appealing and give more options to those looking to achieve a specific design.
Resistant to washing away and bugs
Rocks are also immune to some of the issues mulch has. This includes being washed away or being home to bugs. Rock is also inflammable and doesn’t pose any fire risk.
While it will be cheaper overtime, rock is much more expensive upfront. Rocks also vary widely in price, and can range from relatively affordable to very expensive for more exotic stones.
Harder to add or remove
Stones are also much more difficult to work with than mulch. It also doesn’t decompose, so you will need to be removed if it is no longer desired. This can be very difficult work that is time intensive. Stones are heavy, and add/removing them can certainly be a workout on its own.
Less weed prevention
Rock also doesn’t provide the same level of weed protection as mulch. In most cases, you’ll want to lay some weed stopping tarp before setting the rocks or you’ll end up with weed problems in the future.
Can get hot
Rocks also don’t retain moisture, and can get very hot in the summer sun. This can be dangerous to some plants, and might kill smaller seedlings growing in it.
When To Use Rock
Rock is a good choice for those looking for added visual flair, or in areas that aren’t intended to grow plants. Rocks are also a good choice for high traffic areas as they’ll typically stand up better to foot traffic. Lastly, rocks are great for people looking for a set and forget style of landscaping; this makes them a popular choice for property managers that want a nice look without much effort or upkeep.