Understanding Rock, Paper, and Woodchips

Savannah Campbell

When planning landscaping, it is important to understand the different types of mulch available and what their applications are. Rock and organic mulch can be used together to create a beautiful garden. However, if the purpose of the mulch is not understood, it will be misused and the results will not be satisfactory. 

Rocks For the Ages

I’m sure you’ve seen rocks used to line walkways, divert water flow, and even create driveways. But rocks can also be used as mulch around your flower beds, plants, and trees. There is an endless variety of rocks that can be used for landscaping, both ornamentally and for mulch. 

  • Flower beds
  • Tree bases
  • Fire pits
  • Gardens
  • Pools
  • Ponds

From gravel the size of a single pea up to rocks as large as golf balls, rock mulch is sourced from river beds and rocky terrains. Where the rock comes from determines its texture and color, as well as dimension. Rock mulch affords homeowners a much greater variety of color choices over organic options. 

Rock mulch is also a much hardier material. Due to its hardness and its ratio of weight to size, rock mulch can withstand foot traffic, harsh weather conditions, and will not be easily blown away. There are several basic types of rock mulch.

  • Decomposed granite
  • Pea gravel
  • Lava rock
  • River rock

Rocks are heavier and absorb heat. They cannot retain moisture. Their weight means that they can harm some plants that are fragile and need a light touch. Because they absorb and retain heat, rocks are also not a great choice for plants and flowers that need cooler temperatures.

That being said, they are an amazing option if you are interested in Xeriscaping, which is a very real option, especially if you live in arid climates like a desert (looking at you, Utah)! As this option demands low-moisture, landscaping rocks make for an ideal mulching material.

Mulching With Organic Materials

Organic mulch is incredibly common in flower and vegetable gardens. It is much lighter in weight, and therefore easier to move and work with than rock mulch. The upfront cost of organic mulch is lower than rock mulch. There is more maintenance and cost associated with the upkeep of organic mulch, mostly due to the simple fact that organic mulch will decompose and it’s easily blown out of the landscaping by a strong wind.

Using organic mulch like bark, wood chips, or even recycled paper has many benefits you should consider. Because it weighs less, it is more suitable for use around delicate flowers. It also absorbs and holds water, and can help keep plants and flowers hydrated. Using organic mulch three to six feet around the base of a tree can nearly double the growth rate of the tree. Mulch helps to regulate the soil temperature and is an effective weed barrier. 

Organic mulch will need to be replaced at least once a year. Lightweight mulch can be washed away in heavy rains. Organic mulch can also attract insects to your property; some may be unwelcome guests. If you allow your mulch to dry out, it can be a fire hazard. As such, it is never ideal to install organic mulch too close to a dwelling or other structure. Finally, organic mulch will fade from sun exposure, so the color will be less vibrant than you originally wanted.

Rock and Organic Mulch Can Play Together

The best way to design your landscape is to consider the various terrains, the types of plants you wish to install, and the overall look you want to achieve. There are places where rock mulch will prove far superior to organic mulch; with hardy plants, areas where warmth retention is desired, places where a flame retardant is desired, and where water drainage is necessary. 

Other areas of your yard will be better suited to organic mulch. Trees will flourish with a wide ring of mulch surrounding them. Organic mulch will also protect smaller flowers and vegetables and will keep the temperature in the soil stable. The benefits of water retention for plants and flowers that need additional support cannot be overstated.

Haul-4-U is Your One-Stop-Shop for Landscape Material!

A well-designed yard will use both rock and organic mulch to compliment each other and for the most benefit to the trees, plants, and flowers that grow there. When you have selected your rock and organic mulch, choose Haul-4-U to deliver. There’s no easier way to get the mulch you want to be delivered to your yard or garden. Look through the many options we offer and schedule your delivery today.

Getting started is as simple as contacting us today!