Organic Mulch vs Decorative Rocks: Which Is Better?

Mulch is a material that you apply after planting trees and shrubs. There are many benefits to adding mulch to your home’s landscape. It retains soil moisture, reduces weed growth, and adds organic matter to your soil. Apart from a myriad of functions and benefits, it also gives a uniform appearance to garden design.

There are different types of mulch you can apply to your landscape. But the most popular ones are organic mulch and decorative rocks. The question is—how do you choose between the two? Does it matter what kind of mulch you use? 

Each has its benefits and drawbacks, which we’ll explore in this blog article. To know which one is best for your yard, we’ve put together the pros and cons of organic mulch vs. decorative rocks.

Pros of Organic Mulch

The idea of organic mulch has been around for many years, which makes it called the gardener’s friend. It’s incredibly beneficial to your soil and plants in so many ways. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of organic mulch:

  • Covers the soil completely and provides an additional layer of protection
  • Can be dyed in various colors to bring your plant beds back to life
  • Provides the right amount of temperature for your plants
  • Regulates soil temperature to avoid heat loss, especially in the winter season
  • Keeps plants cool in the summer and warm in the winter because it’s a natural insulator 
  • Helps ensure better plant growth up to twice as much 
  • Adds essential nutrients when it breaks down in the soil
  • Lessens the growth of weeds without the need for a weed barrier
  • Minimizes water evaporation on the surface of the soil
  • Reduces soil compaction and erosion by up to 85 percent
  • Easier to install than other types of mulch like rocks and geotextiles

Cons of Organic Mulch

  • Needs replenishment since organic mulch breaks down eventually, which takes money and time
  • Attracts wood-eating pests like termites, ants, roaches
  • Provides a convenient hiding place and breeding ground for pests
  • Requires perfect timing because mulching too early may slow down the warming process. 
  • On the other hand, spreading mulch too late may lead to weed growth
  • Too much mulch might stress out plants and introduce new weeds to your landscape
  • Maintenance and careful mulch application is needed to avoid causing harm to the plants
  • Some organic mulches are likely to combust, which poses a fire hazard to your property

Pros of Decorative Rocks

Decorative rocks and stones are usually used as backyard pathways. But aside from aesthetic purposes, rocks are definitely cheaper and better at weed prevention. So, if you’re wondering if it’s good for your landscape, we’ve listed its benefits and drawbacks:

  • Comes in a variety of shapes, colors, and textures to allow more customization
  • Adds a pop of color to your garden
  • Prevents soil erosion if you have a sloped yard
  • Does not require annual replacement because it doesn’t decompose
  • Does not attract bugs or pests to your landscape
  • Easy to maintain and lasts longer than organic mulch
  • Less expensive in the long run due to its low maintenance
  • Nonflammable and fireproof unlike other organic mulches
  • Prevents the growth of weeds
  • Can withstand harsh weather conditions and adjust to the changes

Cons of Decorative Rocks

  • Does not provide benefits like plant growth or improved soil health
  • Increase evaporation at the soil surface, causing plants to lose a lot of water
  • Raises the temperature of the ground
  • Encourages weeds to grow in the rock bed or spaces between the stones
  • Requires a fabric weed barrier underneath to prevent weeds from sprouting
  • Too heavy to transport and install in your garden
  • Not friendly for beginners and DIY people
  • Requires a raised edge to prevent the rocks from shifting or moving
  • Increases the acidity or alkalinity of your soil, which is not good for plants and trees
  • Removing decorative rocks can be a dreadful and tedious job

Final Takeaway

Both types of mulch have their strengths and weaknesses. In the end, your choice of landscape material comes down to your personal preference. Turn to Midstate Landscaping if you need help choosing between organic mulch and landscaping rocks. We can help you weigh their differences and go for the best option. Our team specializes in lawn care services, hardscaping, mulching, and more. Give us a call today!