Rocks Are Not Good Mulch In Southern Yards

Dated: 11/07/2019

Views: 40

Published 7/16/2016 - Beth Tindall

 To Rock or Not to Rock-

As an owner of a small Yard/ Landscaping business I am constantly faced with the dilemma of customers who are looking for rock to use as mulch in their yards. Most homeowners say their neighbors have used rock and it looks so good and they are tired of putting new wood mulch out every year. I have to agree with them that it does look good, at first, however after a few years if it is not properly installed and has not been maintained with pre-emergent and herbicides it will look much worse than neglected wood mulch beds. Rock mulch is not maintenance free; these treatments must be done at least once a year and preferably twice a year. It is very important to use a professional grade landscape fabric under the rock to slow the sinking process.  

Rocks that are placed in the sun absorb the heat from the sun and they hold the heat much longer than its wood competition. This does not really allow the plants time for their roots to cool off after being exposed to excessive heat all day long, which causes excessive stress on the plants and will often result in straggly or dead plantings. One way to avoid this is to put your rocks at least 4” deep and water deeply often, especially on hot, full sun days.

All of this is very costly and heaven forbid if you ever want to plant something new in your yard. Trying to dig into an area where there is rock mulch will pretty much require a small back hoe!

 I had a friend who used lava rock around her mail box and after a few years she wanted to make a fresh flowerbed. I tried with all I had to dig a little hole to plant a daylilly…needless to say those plans changed! The mailbox has grass growing over the lava rock and no flowers. 

Using wood or pine straw mulch is the best natural way to take care of your plants and trees. It provides moisture retention and weed control while adding natural nutrients to your soil. Yes, it needs to be refreshed every year or so, just like a forest floor. The trees shed their leaves creating natural mulch for the plants within its realm creating moist rich topsoil for healthy growing.Image title

Rock does have a place in the yard however; it makes a lovely dry bed as seen here in the picture to allow water to flow out of your yard without erosion and a few strategically placed large rocks allow for naturalization in your wood mulch beds. 

Before shelling out all of that money for rock mulch do a little research from Clemson Extension and see what the recommendations are for your area. /www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/other/compost_mulch/hgic1604.html

I am very partial to the natural hardwood much. After the initial 3” application, I just add an inch or so every year to refresh the beds. You can’t beat the look of natural wood mulch!

 "Yardening Done Right"-Beth Tindall: http://betht.homesofmyrtlebeach.com

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