What mulch should I use for my spring garden or landscaping project?

Whether you are planning a new garden bed or simply getting ready for the spring growing season, the decision about which mulch to use may be in the forefront of your mind. Every gardener knows the benefits of mulch: moisture retention, weed prevention, and simply making the gardens look more beautiful and more uniform. One excellent option for mulch you may not have considered is crushed stone. Although not as popular these days as organic options, stone provides many benefits.

Why Choose Crushed Stone Mulch for Your Garden

A homeowner or gardener’s first consideration when choosing what to use in their flower gardens usually comes down to appearance. Very few would lay down an ugly groundcover even if it had other advantages. Chips and pebbles come in multiple colors and sizes to better complement your home and landscape design.

Stone mulch provides more tangible bonuses too, such as permanency. It will not blow away in a windstorm, get washed away after a downpour, or biodegrade and become one with the soil. This not only maintains the attractiveness of your spring garden longer but can also save you money in the long run as you will not have to buy new mulch every year. Eventually, the pieces will sink into the dirt if a landscape fabric barrier was not put down first. This usually takes years and can be countered with a light application of crushed stone on top.

While stones will add no beneficial organic material to the garden beds because it does not break down like other mulch options, it does perform the other tasks admirably.

A thick enough layer will help prevent weeds from sprouting. You can make their germination even less likely if the mulch is laid over landscaping fabric. At the same time, it also helps keep moisture in the soil by blocking the evaporating effects of sun and wind. In areas prone to wildfires, this non-organic mulch can even help protect your home by limiting the fuel flames can reach.

Other Considerations For Your Garden

Although the benefits are obvious, using stone as a garden mulch for your landscaping project or new flower bed has some drawbacks as well.

Unlike organic mulch that is softer and lighter weight, stones must be kept away from delicate plants and sturdy shrubs alike so they do not damage the stems. This may leave some spaces where weeds can grow. Because it is more permanent than other types, those spaces will be the only ones where plants can be placed for the life of the garden.

This solid type of mulch makes it more difficult to break up fallen leaves and dead petals from plants at the end of the growing season or anytime debris appears in the garden. Raking, moving, spreading, and installing rock mulch is more labor-intensive than bark or shredded varieties.