What you choose for landscaping is a matter of preference.

When working on landscaping options, you may come across two options for ground cover: mulch or rocks.

Both have their own benefits and make your garden look pristine.

If you are thinking of flipping a coin to choose between mulch vs. rock, don’t go that way because we have a better solution for your problem.

We will compare mulch vs. rock so you can decide which one is suitable for your needs and budget.

So, let’s begin.

Mulch Vs. Rock: Comparing the Negatives and Positives

A comparison table of mulch vs. rocks

To start the comparison between mulch vs. rock, you need to have adequate knowledge of them.

What is Mulch?

Mulch is good for your garden beds because it enriches the soil with nutrients that your plants need as they decompose. 

Moreover, it acts as a natural insulator, keeping your plants cool in the hot weather and warm in the winter. 

If you’re choosing between mulch vs. rock, keep in mind that mulch is most suited for homes in northern regions. 

Now that you know what mulch is, let’s go through its types, benefits and drawbacks.

Types of Mulch

Colours and Materials

Mulch comes in a wide range of compositions and hues. With so many options, you may get something to match the existing decor of your lawn.

Pine and cedar wood are used to make shredded bark. The mulch made of shredded bark interlocks and does not wash away, making it an excellent option. 

Over time, it breaks down into the soil, nourishing your garden beds.

Here are some types of mulch that help you pick the best one from mulch vs. rock.

Bark Shreds

For level garden beds, shredded bark works well around shrubs and trees. 

The cost of shredded bark is not very high. 

Shredded mulch has numerous colours, including black, dark brown, gold, natural, and red. 

This interesting characteristic will make it easier to choose between mulch vs. rock.

Pine Straw

Since pine straw decomposes slowly, it is a sustainable option.

It is lighter than wood mulch, so it is much easier to manage it. You need to replace it twice to keep the garden fresh. The application is straightforward as you just need to apply to a depth of 3 inches.

Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch is preferable over rock or bark mulch if you want to set up a playground. Because it is composed of recycled tires, it offers a gentle cushion against falls and slips. 

Also, it doesn’t blow away with winds. Many individuals believe that adding mulch to their landscaping is the most affordable choice. 

Now that you know the types, we’ll weigh the pros and cons to make the final call between mulch vs. rock.

Benefits of Mulch 

An infographic on the benefits of mulch

Here are the four benefits that will be the reason to pick between mulch or rocks.

Nutrients to Promote Growth

Mulch occurs in several kinds, but it normally is formed of diverse decomposing organic and non-organic elements. 

Generally, materials used for mulch include landscape fabric, repurposed tires, bark, wood chips, and pine needles. 

When these components are combined, your garden receives an increased amount of nutrients, which promote growth and sustainability. If you are looking for a nourishing option, you know which one to go for, between mulch vs. rock.

Controls Weeds and Moisture 

Mulch has the ability to act much like a barrier, preventing weeds from growing. 

This happens by restricting their growth and decreasing their impact on your garden by limiting how much sunlight they can absorb. 

Additionally, organic mulch helps retain moisture by absorbing more water and lessening the detrimental impact of evaporation.

That’s why people using organic lawn care techniques give their vote of confidence to mulching when asked about the better choice between mulch vs. rock.

Pest Control

Various barks, which are components of mulch, have natural oils that scare away pests from entering your garden. 

Mulches with stronger odours are more successful in deterring pests such as insects and animals.

However, there are types of mulch that may attract insects to invade your lawn. 

Thankfully, to control these pesky creatures, you can use several pest control methods, including simple ingredients.

Protection from Erosion

Mulch is made up of several layers of various organic materials, which aid in protecting against erosion. 

Rainwater runoff is diverted and acts as a barrier, protecting your garden from soil erosion problems and making it seem less vulnerable during heavy downpours.

Simple Installation

It’s easy to carry mulch bags to locations where you’ll spread the material if you purchase them. 

Mulch is simple to apply, even with the annual replacement expense. It’s crucial to pay attention to how much you’re laying, though. Plants may become stressed if the layer is deeper than three inches. 

Depending on where you live, there are different seasons of the year to install mulch. 

In colder climates, mulching your garden too early will prevent the soil from naturally warming, which will result in late blooming. 

Spreading too late results in an overabundance of weeds in warmer climates.

To perform the right actions for your lawn, whether you select mulch or rocks, a good lawn care schedule is essential.

Disadvantages of Mulching

Needs Replacement After a Period 

The decomposition of mulch brings joy to your plants, but for your pocket, it’s bad news. 

Mulch can migrate in strong winds and rains, and it has to be refilled. Mulch will gradually start to compact and eventually break down. After that, homeowners will have to buy more mulch and begin the application process all over again. 

Take care not to apply too much mulch directly against your home, as it can eventually compact and push down the dirt near your foundation. It may create a potential water buildup at the foundation line due to its natural moisture retention properties.

Overdoing Mulch 

Plants may become stressed if there is more mulch applied than three inches deep. Hence, you may have to leave this task in the hands of professionals if you are not proud of your gardening skills.

Be Careful of the Time

If you apply mulch too soon, your soil won’t warm up naturally, which will result in late blooming. It will sprout weeds if it is spread too late. Yes, it has the power to control weeds, yet applying organic mulch may bring in weeds that are not already present in your landscape.

Weighs Lighter

Being lightweight is advantageous when applying, but it can also be a disadvantage if you reside in a place with strong winds, storms, or both. 

However, you may discover pieces of mulch outside your flower beds during a storm or if you happen to use a string trimmer too nearby.

Read More: What Is Sod: Top 5 Types of Sod that Thrive in Canada

Cost of Mulch 

The cost of mulch can increase based on application method and needed quantity. 

Mulch should be applied to a sizable area exposed to direct sunlight for a considerable amount of the day.

Therefore, you should plan on renewing it every three to four months. 

Most mulches that are exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time will start to fade after a few months, depending on the type and grade that you apply. 

Furthermore, you may replace your landscaping three to four times a year if you like the way it appears with a fresh layer of mulch. 

After considering these factors, you can choose between mulch vs. rock. 

Rock For Landscaping 

An infographic on the advantages of rocks for landscaping

The ground should always slope away from the foundation line to prevent water buildup near your property. 

The rock surrounding your property may serve as a precursor to future grading problems. 

If you spot any dips when you lay the rocks, it may be a sign that the soil beneath the rock has been washed or eroded.

Protecting Against Erosion 

A covering of rocks can act as a barrier to stop soil erosion. This is another factor that differs between mulch vs. rock.

They can be positioned carefully in regions that are prone to erosion, like slopes or places with high runoff. 

Rocks stabilize the ground and maintain the integrity of your landscape by absorbing the force of rainfall and preventing soil erosion.

Has a Reasonable Cost

A landscaping project can burn your budget. Plants, flowers, and even concrete cost a significant amount of money.

Fortunately, when it comes to mulch vs. rock, natural stone is a far less expensive option.

In addition to being one of the most affordable landscaping materials, stone installation also lowers other expenses. 

For instance, you won’t have to buy mulch or fertilizer or even worry about starting fresh seeds every season. 

Consider all the time and labour you can save, along with the reduction in lawn maintenance costs.

One of the main causes of leaky foundations is heavy rainfall, and nobody enjoys stepping in a large puddle in their yard. 

Water problems can be avoided by incorporating ornamental rock into your landscape design to add style and aid with drainage at your home or place of business. 

Stones form a natural drainage system. On the flip side, if you go opt for sod, it has a limited capacity to absorb water. 

This is the best approach to prevent water damage to your property and grass if your house is at the top of a hill or on an incline.

Create a Wonderful Ambience 

If you like to spend the evenings on your lawn, rocks create a beautiful view.

Rocks can be used as filler around hardscapes and to build paths and patios. It’s easy to construct lovely outdoor living spaces and add them into spaces where you have other ornaments like fountains, etc.

As a plus point, you won’t have to worry about grass growing through your freshly set stone. 

If your lawn is a hub for parties for the family and friend circles, you won’t regret choosing rocks from mulch vs. rock.

Demerits of Rock

Heavyweight of Rocks

Rock has a lot of weight. It should come as no surprise, but filling in a space with rock will require more time and work than with mulch because of its weight. 

Also, keeping it on grass can damage the blades of grass. This takes us to the next important characteristic that comes into play when selecting between mulch vs. rock.

Takes Away the Moisture

Rock used for landscaping is not a porous material. 

Furthermore, it becomes more difficult for newly planted plants, even though that makes it ideal for keeping moisture and water out of your house. 

In fact, using rock as ground cover around young trees or in flower beds might deplete the moisture found at the base of your plants. 

To maintain the health and aesthetic appeal of your new growth, you will need to water it more frequently.

Cost of Rock

While some rock will initially cost around three times as much as most mulch, it will last far longer and require fewer replacements. 

As opposed to mulch, which gradually deteriorates, fades, or disappears into the soil, stone and rock withstands the weather quite well. 

Rock keeps its neat appearance for a very long period. If you go for this option from mulch vs. rock, it lasts you around two to three years.

Read more: Sod Prices: Calculating the Total Costs in 2023


Which one from mulch vs. rock is better for your garden?

It depends on your preference; for instance, if you want a natural alternative, mulching is better. Otherwise, for a low-maintenance option, rocks are better.

Which is an affordable option from mulch vs. rock?

Rocks usually cost less than mulch.

What is the difference between the installation of mulch vs. rock?

You need a weed fabric barrier to install the rock neatly. Whereas, for mulch, you don’t need it.

In Conclusion

From mulch vs. rock, no matter which option you choose, it will set the tone of your lawn.

If you want to create a new and crisp lawn that would look the same for a couple of days, you can choose rocks.

On the other hand, if you like planting new flowers and grass, mulch is a great option.

To learn more about landscaping designs or mulching, talk to our team of experts.

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