What's the better option, Rock or Mulch?

March 17, 2010

Dee, We just built a new house in Lakeville, my husband and I have created a primilary landscaping plan for the front of our house. Is it best to use rock or mulch for filler around the plants? 


Dear Melissa,

Both rock and woodchip mulch provide a finished look to planting beds.  Both have their pros and cons.  In making your choice consider what will complement your home and landscape needs.  Hardwood mulch will break down over time and will need to be replenished. 
-Leaf litter and debris are harder to clean from wood mulches.
-Hardwood mulch absorbs moisture and keeps the soil cool and wet, cutting down of watering needs, especially important for new plantings.
-Rock does not breakdown and so rarely needs to be replenished.
-Decorative rock fill is easy to clean- debris and leaf litter can be blown or raked away.
-Rock tends to dry the soil and heat plant roots, consequently persistent watering is required to keep plants healthy.
Whatever covering you decide to use consider using landscape fabric under the covering and an edging to define the bed and confine the rock or mulch.  Regular applications of a pre-emergent weed preventer will also keep your plants and beds looking neat and clean. 
Good luck with your project.


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