After designing your dream landscape and selecting plants to fit the space that also add the perfect amount of seasonal color, it’s time for the finishing touch: installing mulch or river rock. This top layer is imperative to keeping weeds from growing up through the landscape beds and adds to the aesthetic of your overall landscape. While it is up to your personal preference on which to select, it’s important to know the positives and negatives for both options.
By far the most common option, bark mulch is significantly cheaper than river rock. However, the cost can certainly add up over time due to routine maintenance requiring the mulch to be reapplied annually, as the colored dye fades because of direct sunlight and rain wash-out. We recommend using high-quality mulch that has been dyed and allowed enough time for it to bake into the bark. We also look for a more processed grind, to avoid large pieces of bark throughout the landscape beds.
Mulch is biodegradable and actually enriches the soil and fertilizes the plants. It also reduces water evaporation, which leads to fewer watering sessions during those hot, dry summer days. While mulch can be applied any time of year, we suggest waiting to do annual applications until after the spring rains are over to preserve the color and avoid rain wash-out.
Gravel is a one-time investment and almost never needs replacing. Before installation, it is very important to put down geotextile fabric so weeds do not grow up through the rocks. If not done properly, picking weeds from between the rocks gets to be an extremely tedious task.
Decorative gravel like river rock, slate chips, etc. is great for high-traffic areas and is less likely to wash-out or shift on windy or rainy days. For areas around the property that might have drainage issues, gravel is the preferred option, as it drains water much more quickly than mulch. The downside to gravel is that it can absorb heat from the sun, making your landscape beds to be 20-30 degrees hotter. This causes some thirsty plants, so proper watering is crucial!
Need help designing your landscape bed revamp and deciding on which option is right for you? Contact the Pros today for a free consultation!