Mulch vs. Rocks: Which is Better For Your Landscaping?

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After you have had new trees or bushes planted in your yard by your Fort Collins landscaping company, you will want to add mulch or rocks for the finishing touch. The only problem is that you don’t know whether to use mulch or rocks. We get it, they both have a lot to offer, and they also have certain drawbacks. By understanding the pros and cons of rocks and mulch in landscaping, you can make a more informed decision about which is the best choice for your outdoor landscaping project. Of course, you could choose to go with mulch while your spouse thinks rocks will be the better choice. If that happens, the best tiebreaker would be the flip of a coin. Read on and make your decision on which works best for you.

mulch overview

One of the most common types of mulch is bark mulch, which is made from the bark of trees. Bark mulch comes from the bark of trees, including hemlock, oak, and pine, and it comes in a variety of sizes, from finely shredded to large nuggets. One of the most significant benefits of mulch is that it mimics the nutrient-rich ground cover that you would naturally see around your trees and bushes. In addition, those decaying leaves, twigs, and other organic materials are filled with all sorts of fungal life that keeps your plants full of needed nutrients.


Mulch is excellent for the soil and the plants in that soil. Mulch is an organic landscaping option that prevents weeds, conserves water, reduces erosion, and helps regulate plant temperature. Yes, it does have several excellent benefits. Mulch is also very inexpensive, and it is quite easy to install it in your landscaping without the need for any heavy equipment. But much also a few downsides.

Even though mulch is the less expensive option upfront, it could become the more expensive option in the long run. This is because mulch needs to be swapped out with new stuff every couple of years. And you can bet that you will be adding mulch every six months or so because much of it blows away. As such, you will probably wind up spending more in the long run.

If you aren’t careful and place too much mulch on your property, it could actually suffocate your plants. Worse still, you could be buying mulch with fillers like fly larvae, seeds, and other materials you don’t want in your yard. This is an easy fix as all you need to do is buy your mulch from a trusted source. Lastly, mulch tends to attract all sorts of insects as it gives them the perfect environment to lay eggs.

bags of mulch

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rock mulch

Rock Overview

Rock or rock mulch is another choice when you have your outdoor space landscaped. There are all types of rocks used for this type of mulch, including lava rock, river rock, granite, and pea gravel. Rock mulch comes in a variety of shapes, colors, textures, and sizes and is often used as a border for walkways, driveways, and around buildings.  


One of the more significant benefits of rock mulch is that it will not decompose like bark mulch. As such, there is no reason to replace it every couple of years; it will last a long time. In addition, rock mulch won’t blow away in strong winds, so it doesn’t have to be topped off every several months. Furthermore, the areas that are covered with rock mulch won’t retain moisture, so there is little risk of fungi growth. And if you are concerned about weed growth, rock mulch is the way to go for sure. Lastly, rocks are fireproof, and as such, they are the choice for those areas near your home or other buildings. 


Rock mulch also has a few cons that you need to consider. For example, those decorative rocks you install around your trees, bushes, and other plants never need to be replaced, but they also don’t provide the nutrients found in bark mulch. In addition, it is far more labor-intensive to haul and shovel heavy rocks all over your yard. You also need to keep in mind that the upfront cost of having rocks installed in your yard will be considerably more than bark mulch.

When Rock is a Good Choice

For the most part, bark mulch is going to be an excellent choice for your landscaping needs. However, there are instances in which rocks would be the better choice. For example, rock is the preferred choice in areas that get a lot of foot traffic. You will constantly be replacing bark mulch in high-traffic areas due to its weight. Rocks are far heavier than bark mulch and can take the traffic with ease.


If you are having drainage issues in your yard, then rocks are a better choice. Rocks allow water to drain quickly, and there will be little pooling. And if you are the type who doesn’t want to keep up with the maintenance of bark mulch, then you are probably better off using rock.

rock planting bed

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is subjective, and it is very much a matter of taste and preference. There are homeowners who think bark mulch looks great, while others will prefer the look of rock in their yard. The bottom line is that they are both very presentable materials that will catch the eye and make your yard look great. So you can either go with the crisp and clean look of rock mulch or the rich brown look of bark mulch.

You might still be wondering which will work better for you. If that is the case, contact us, and we can discover together which is your best option. Rock or mulch is a critical part of your landscaping, so it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the end, whichever material you choose, you are going to wind up with a beautiful yard that you will be spending a whole lot more time enjoying.


mulch infographic