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Old 06-13-2009, 01:33 PM   #1
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pros / cons of using mulch or river rock for landscaping

We're trying to decide on which to use for flower beds, around trees etc.

I'd love to hear your thoughts -- both pros and cons.

Thanks.
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:54 PM   #2
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We use both. Mulch can get a bit buggy, at least here in Florida. Our landscaper doesn't recommend it too close to the house foundation for that reason.

River rock--that stuff is so heavy that a pickup truck load may crack your driveway! Lugging around 50 pound bags is rough. And even 10 or 20 bags doesn't go very far. You need somebody very young and very strong to put down the river rock.
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:56 PM   #3
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for around the immediate base of trees, use mulch. it keeps the soil moist; keeps temps lower in summer, warmer in winter; can be a natural insect repellant(esp. natural cedar much); and as it breaks down it increases soil activity to add nutrients to the soil. just don't go too high on the base of the tree with the mulch, just a few inches at most.
same benefits for flowers.

ETA do not use cocoa mulch, it gets these gross worms when it rains!!
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:07 PM   #4
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Mulch... and plain mulch. The red stuff will just drain off the mulch and into your flowers. And it's not very green. If you want whats best and readily available, go with pine bark mulch or needles. They decay faster, but add more nutrients to your flower bed. And mulch helps keep in the moisture.

Rocks might look pretty, but only good for desert plants that need that extra heat. And dry soil. You might want to line your flower bed with rocks. To keep that boundry of grass on one side and mulch on it's side.

Just remember to not make a large flower bed around trees. The reason why it's good to have bare spots around the trunk is for the roots to absorb air. Not that adding a few annuals between the roots would be bad. But if you try to cover all the roots with grass you'll slowly kill it.

I worked for Home Depot Garden during the spring time and got lots and lots of training at several nursies and such for gardens.
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:09 PM   #5
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Always plant at least 1ft to 2ft away from your house to prevent roots from damaging the foundation, and moisture building up. Leave bare or cover with rocks. If you plant a 2-3ft tall bush, no one will notice the space in the base because the top will expand.
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:10 PM   #6
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We use mulch that is made out of recycled tires I think. It comes in black, brown and green. It maintains it's color for several years. We used to buy the stuff at places that sold swing sets, but now I see it at various garden centers. Our Costco is even selling it in their garden area now.
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:10 PM   #7
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If you have lousy soil, clay or sand, mulch decomposes and after several years, you will actually have soil that grows things. The cons? You have to re do it every year, or at least every two. You have to use preen to keep the weeds down, just as you would the stone. We use mulch around our shrub beds and landscaping. We use stone around the land scaping in the pool area. You would not want mulch to blow into the pool, and you would not want to have to drag wheelbarrrows of mulch around the pool every year. Stones do not have to be replenished until they "disappear". I don't know where they go. Maybe where the socks go in the laundry. We have redone our stones around the pool once in 16 years so they do last longer than mulch.
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:20 PM   #8
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Rubber mulch is great for non growing areas. But becareful cause that stuff can burn plants.

Works wonders for kids areas, and high traffic area. It's much softer on bare feet too incase you have to make a run out. or the kids like to play in the sprinklers. I'd suggest using a weed barrier fabric underneath it. And comes in several colors.
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:32 PM   #9
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I used river rock for landscaping/ground cover at my old house. It doesn't prevent weeds! And it was a pain to remove because it sort of became "one with the earth" after awhile. Regular old mulch is so much better - it does have to be replenished, but it doesn't need to be removed because as others have pointed out it breaks down into the soil.
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:45 PM   #10
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We used both.

Mulch
Pros
Cheap
Easy to spread
Spreads quickly
Bags are not too heavy

Mulch
Cons
Needs to be refreshed yearly
If you have trees that lose their leaves in the fall it is difficult to rake/blow off
of mulch without taking the mulch with it
Washes out with heavy rain

Rock
Pros
Looks nice
Doesn't wash out with rain
You can blow leaves off of it without taking the rock too

Rock
Con
Very heavy
A bag of rock doesn't go very far so it can get expensive
More difficult to spread because it is so heavy
We had some difficulty finding the exact same rock the next year so we could expand our border. The rock we ended up with is a little different and you can tell.
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Old 06-13-2009, 03:08 PM   #11
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A couple years ago, I took out all the mulch from one area of the yard (the projcet for this year is to finish the rest of the landscaping) and replaced it with river rock. Instead of buying bags of rock, we ordered 10 cubic yards of river rock, which took quite a few wheelbarrow loads to move.

When I do the other side, once I take out the old mulch, I will lay out weedcloth. This time, I'll probably spread sand or pebbles before the river rock, since I think it will help minimize the weeds.

We have flowers planted in the rocks, and they haven't had any problems, FWIW.
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:40 PM   #12
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We just had our landscaping completely redone. They used a combination of mulch and strategic rock and boulders, which looks really nice. I love the variety of using everything.
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Old 06-13-2009, 06:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SAHDad View Post
A couple years ago, I took out all the mulch from one area of the yard (the projcet for this year is to finish the rest of the landscaping) and replaced it with river rock. Instead of buying bags of rock, we ordered 10 cubic yards of river rock, which took quite a few wheelbarrow loads to move.

When I do the other side, once I take out the old mulch, I will lay out weedcloth. This time, I'll probably spread sand or pebbles before the river rock, since I think it will help minimize the weeds.

We have flowers planted in the rocks, and they haven't had any problems, FWIW.
I want to do the larger rocks around the pool (above ground) and around the filter and heater area. Putting down the sand or smaller pebbles first is a good idea for me to keep in mind if we actually decide to do that this year. I had thought we would put the weed block down first then everything on top of that. I'm not even sure it would be OK to surround the pool with rocks...sure don't want anything that will mess up the pool wall. MY DH's great uncle is a landscaper so we would have him do it...he should know if it's ok to do.

We do mulch in the garden. I don' plant anything in the ground, I use pots because the lovely little bunnies that live in my yard like to eat everything I plant.
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