Did you know that your rate of return on yard landscaping can be from 100% to 1000%? Clearly, your yard landscape projects are an investment that can yield huge returns.

Once you are near the end of the project, you will need to decide upon rock vs mulch for your flower beds, around trees and other areas. But how do you decide? Rock vs mulch gives a completely different look and feel to your yard, and there are benefits to both options.

The answer to which is right really depends on what factors are most important to you. For instance, what areas do you want to cover? Is it around a flower bed or around a tree?

Read on for the pros and cons of rock vs mulch so you can choose the right option for your needs.

image showing landscaped area with both bark and rock mulch


Some points about mulch:

  • Generally, it is up to 75% less expensive than decorative stone.
  • It is good for preventing weeds and water evaporation.
  • It decomposes over time, and it adds nutrients to your soil.
  • It works well at keeping your garden warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • There is less risk of the soil becoming compact as people are less likely to walk on it.
  • Another pro is that mulch reduces soil erosion by up to 85%.

But, it’s not all great news. The downsides:

  • Mulch has a shorter lifespan.
  • It must be replaced annually. So although it can be cheaper in the short-term, consider the recurring cost of maintaining the plush mulch look.
  • It is limited in terms of selection. You basically can choose out of three colors: black, red and brown.
  • There is little room for customization.

Rock vs Mulch

Rock for flower beds and rocks around trees is a great choice if you want a long-term solution. This is very low maintenance option: You’ll rarely need to replace it. In this way, rock mulch may be more cost-effective.

Some other benefits of using rock instead of mulch for your landscaping include:

  • Rock is available in various sizes, shapes, and color blends.
  • You can choose rock mulch as small as a pea to about the size of a golf ball.
  • Stone can be combined to create a unique landscape. For example, you might layer colors and sizes to create a certain look.
  • If your region is prone to wildfires, rocks are likely the best bet since they are inflammable.
  • Windy areas can benefit from rocks as well because rocks prevent soil erosion.
  • Stone is helpful in dry climates because it keeps weeds away better than mulch.

Here in southeastern Wisconsin, these environmental considerations can be important. Also, think about the other elements in your yard and whether rock vs mulch will highlight them best.

Rock mulch is a good choice around the pool because it will not make your water dirty with debris. Mulch could easily wash out into your pool with the wind. Choose rocks anywhere where rain is likely to wash away mulch easily.

But be warned, stone doesn’t assist water retention in your soil, so you may need to water more often. Another downside is if you ever want to remove the rocks, you’ll need to do so by hand!

Think carefully about rocks around trees. Most trees thrive in acidic soil. Rocks cause the soil to become alkaline, which can hurt your trees.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article has been helpful in highlighting the differences between rock vs mulch for your landscape project.

Next, read 5 benefits of manufactured stone and 5 landscape projects made with bricks for exterior renovations. And if you have any questions about what rock to use in your landscaping, feel free to contact us or explore our website for more information.