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January 12, 2018

The Positives and Negatives of Mulch and Stone in a Garden

Planting new trees, shrubs and flowers is the obvious way to improve the appearance of your garden. The addition of mulch can make your planting look more attractive and finished but there are other benefits to the use of mulch. But what kind of mulch should you use and how does it compare to other options such as stone. Here we look at the positives and negatives of using both mulch and rock around trees and in your flower beds.

Mulch: The Positives

  • Better Growth: Mulch is said to improve the growth rate of trees and plants.
  • Less Water: Mulch reduces water evaporation, so you spend less time and money watering!
  • More Nutrients: As mulch breaks down, it adds nutrients that plants need to thrive.
  • Less Weeds: Mulch helps to prevent weed from germinating
  • Optimal Temperature: Mulch insulates plants from cold and keeps them cool during warmer periods.
  • Reduce Compaction and Erosion: Mulch reduces soil erosion by up to 85 percent. Plus, people are less likely to walk on mulch, so there’s less soil compaction.

Mulch: The Negatives

  • Maintenance: Depending the type and quality of mulch you use, you must replace it every one to four years. This means recurring cost and time for maintenance.
  • Balance: It is important to get the balance right as too much mulch can cause stress to plants.
  • Timing: Mulching too early in the year can impact how quickly the ground warms, resulting in late blooms. If you mulch too late, it may not prevent weeds from germinating as efficiently.
  • Complications: Some organic mulches may contain weed seeds, contributing to a weed problem rather than aiding its prevention.


Stone: The Positives

  • Very low maintenance: You rarely, if ever, need to replace them.
  • Cost effective: It is generally a once off expenditure.
  • Safety: Stone is inflammable so if you live in an area with fire risk, rocks could be a safer option.
  • Weed Prevention: Stone can keep weeds away longer.
  • Durable: Heavy rocks can help to reduce or even prevent soil erosion in areas of high wind.

Stone: The Negatives

  • Temperature: Stone can raise the soil temperature, drying out and increasing stress on plants.
  • No Health Benefits: Stone does not aid plant growth or contribute to soil health.
  • Soil pH: Trees often prefer an acidic soil. Stone can cause soil to become alkaline which can cause tree damage.
  • Weeds: Soil will eventually appear between rocks, blown there by wind or transferred by movement. This creates an ideal place for weed growth.
  • Permanent: Removing stone can be hard manual work so be sure it is the right option for you before going down that root.


My Opinion

It may not be for everyone, but I feel that mulch is the best option for trees and plants. Not only does a good mulch enhance the appearance and finish of your garden, the health benefits for your plants are substantial. If you are interested in using mulch in your garden, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We may be able to locate just what you need!