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Should You Use Rock or Mulch for Landscaping? | Platinum Title & Escrow

You’ve spent your time researching plants and designing your landscaping to add some beauty and serenity to your outdoor space, but you have one question remaining: should you use rock or mulch?

There are pros and cons to each type of ground cover for your landscape beds, and it might depend on where you live. To help with your decision, we wanted to weigh the pros and cons of each.



  • Nutrients: When mulch breaks down, it adds nutrients to the soil that helps the plants thrive.
  • Less Water: mulch reduces evaporation, so you spend less time and money on watering. 
  • Temperature: mulch keeps plants cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • Reduces Soil Erosion: mulch reduces soil erosion by up to 85%. 



  • Replacement: depending on the type of mulch, you may have to replace it every 1-4 years, or more.
  • Too Much: Laying mulch more than 3 inches deep can bury and suffocate your plants.
  • Can Steal Nutrients: light-colored, wood-based mulches, like fresh wood chips, can steal nitrogen from the soil as they break down.
  • Fire Hazard: dry mulches can be a fire hazard, so keep away from buildings to be safe.

River Rock


  • Low Maintenance: rock rarely needs to be replaced.
  • Lower Cost: since rock lasts longer, it’s typically less expensive in its lifetime to use rock than it is to put mulch down every year or so.
  • Helps Control Weeds: rocks keep weeds away longer.
  • Fireproof: if you live in an area that is susceptible to wildfires, rock in your landscape beds are a better option. 
  • Wind Resistant: heavy rocks prevent soil erosion in windy areas.



  • Hot: rocks raise the soil temperature, which leads to thirsty plants. Make sure you take your plants into consideration when determining if you want to use rock.
  • Doesn’t Benefit Plants: unlike wood mulch, rocks don’t provide any nutrients to the soil or help in plant growth.
  • Laborious Removal: rock is heavy, and if you want to remove rock from your landscaping, you must do so by hand, making it time and labor-intensive.

What Looks Best?

When it comes to curb appeal and what type of covering to use in your landscaping, it’s really about preference. If your home is going for a more modern and contemporary feel and you are planting hardy, ornamental grasses and shrubs, rock may be the right choice for you. If you have curvy, more organic, and flowery landscaping, mulch is probably the way to go. 


No matter what you decide to use in your landscaping, enjoy getting outdoors and making your outdoor space something that you will enjoy for years to come.

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