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Pros and Cons of Rocks vs. Mulch

You’ve picked out the trees, shrubs and flowers for your dream garden—but what kind of cover will you use: mulch or rocks? Here are some things to consider as you complete your landscape design.

Different types of mulches

There are two basic kinds of mulches: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches, like bark and hay, come from living matter. Inorganic mulches include synthetics, as well as non-living matter found in nature, like rocks and gravel. Below we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of mulch and rocks in landscaping—find out what will work best for your Los Angeles, CA property!

Pros of rocks in landscaping

Rocks are very low maintenance, and almost never need to be replaced. Because they’re so long lasting, they’re only a one-time expense. Rocks also create the perfect environment for plants that like a little more heat, as they retain heat very effectively.

The low-maintenance nature of rocks is particularly attractive when you consider their numerous other benefits. They can discourage weed growth, help to keep soil protected in windy areas and allow water to drain much more easily than it does through mulch.

Finally, particularly given the fact that Southern California is so prone to wildfires, having a non-flammable material like rocks gives you one less thing to worry about in your landscaping.

Cons of rocks in landscaping

That heat retention mentioned above can also be one of rocks’ drawbacks, depending on what you’ve planted in your garden in Los Angeles, CA. Rocks will raise the soil temperature, which generally stresses and dehydrates plants.

Rocks also don’t add any nutrients to the soil, nor do they aid in plant growth. In fact, they create alkaline soil, which can damage most trees that prefer acidic soil.

While you’re likely not averse to pulling weeds, rocks don’t make this job much easier. Soil can get into crevices between rocks, which will allow weeds to grow. Rocks can also get in the way of rejuvenation pruning, resulting in overgrown plants.

Finally, removing rocks can be a long and tedious process, as they must be removed by hand.

Pros of mulch in landscaping

As a Los Angeles, CA property owner, you’re likely interested in doing whatever you can to ensure your lawn and landscape features look their best. Mulch can help you get your property into shape by speeding up how quickly trees and plants grow. Even better, it reduces evaporation, so it can save you time and money on watering.

Mulch also has positive effects on your soil, preventing weed growth, adding nutrients as it decomposes and keeping the soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It also effectively guards against soil erosion. And because people tend not to walk on mulch, there’s less soil compaction from excessive weight and pressure.

Cons of mulch in landscaping

Because organic mulch is compostable, it will need to be replaced, typically at least every one to four years, which could be costly and time consuming. At the same time, it’s important that you time its application in a strategic way. Mulching too early may slow how quickly the soil warms, which could delay blooming, while mulching too late might give weeds enough time to germinate.

While the process of applying mulch is easy enough, keep in mind that too thick of a mulch layer can actually be harmful to plants. Mulches like bark and hay might even contain viable weed seeds, so don’t consider yourself off the hook for weeding!

No matter which mulch you choose in Los Angeles, CA—or maybe you need help deciding—the pros at RainforestLA, Inc. can help you achieve the function and aesthetic you’re aiming for. Contact us today for more information about our services!

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