One of the toughest questions to answer when landscaping is always regarding whether it’s better to use stone or mulch around your home and garden. While there are clear benefits and advantages to both options, it’s important to pick the one that best meets your goals and needs. All in all it’s not an easy decision when considering the pros and cons of both. In this article, I will highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each and leave it up to you the reader to make a choice on whether to pick one or both for your landscape.
For starters, it’s safe to say mulch is more widely used among homeowners as it’s more affordable. Organic mulch can cost up to 75% less than decorative stone. Mulch is often something many homeowners can also create themselves with compost or other materials from their yard which is a heck of a lot easier than digging for big stones and then trying to cut them into small pieces. Mulch also allows for better growth for your trees and plants as it reduces water evaporation, prevents weed growth, and adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down over time. Mulch will reduce soil erosion and keep your plants warm in the winter and cool in the summer adding an additional layer of protection. On the flipside, while mulch may add fuel and protection to your soil for your plants to survive, it must be replaced annually or every couple of year depending on the mulch you used. Whereas stone may be more expensive, mulch does have a shorter expiration date and will require recurring costs and maintenance.
Stone is great for those homeowners who are thinking long term and looking for a more decorative approach. Decorative stone or gravel comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and color blends. Stone also lends itself to greater customization as it has a range of characteristics that can be combined to create a unique landscape. You can introduce layers of colors or different size variations to create a landscape that is one of a kind and sure to impress the neighborhood. Mulch is less customizable due to its organic nature. If you were to combine shredded bark with red wood chips it may not yield the greatest results. In comparison to mulch, stone is very low maintenance and will almost never require replacement. Due to its longevity, stone is also more cost effective. Stone is also great for dryer climates since it’s inflammable and it keeps weeds away longer. In contrast, stone doesn’t support plant growth the way mulch can, there’s less water retention, the rocks can raise the soil temperature on hot days, and it will create alkaline soil which can have a negative impact on trees and shrubs.
My best recommendation is to look at your landscape and highlight the areas that could benefit from stone and the areas that could benefit from mulch. From there, make a plan that will best meet the needs of your home. Take some time and visit your local hardware store or landscape supply dealer to discover new possibilities today.