When landscaping, you might be wondering whether it would make more sense to use mulch or whether you should use stone. Both mulch and stone have upsides and downsides. The option you should choose is based on your overall goals.
What Is Mulch?
Mulch is typically made from shredded bark. Stones are sometimes referred to as rock mulch, but mulch most often refers to the kind made from bark. The type of trees most often used to create mulch are:
Regardless of which you choose, both mulch and stone are natural products.
Benefits of Mulch
Mulch is the most common option used by homeowners. It's more affordable, and it is also easier to add to your property. With stone, you have to dig and carry the stones and place them around your property.
Mulch is typically better for your trees because it adds nutrients to the soil. The mulch breaks down over time and releases nutrients. Mulch also benefits trees because it reduces evaporation. About half of the water that plants would absorb is normally lost to evaporation, so if your trees aren't getting enough water, adding mulch can be a solution. Rocks don't cover the ground as effectively and aren't effective at stopping evaporation.
Benefits of Stone
Stone can be used as a long-term option for your property since it doesn't decompose. Instead, you could choose to use stones for the life of your property. However, if you decide that you'd like to later switch to a different material, the stones will go to waste.
Downsides of Stone
Stones are more likely to be acidic or basic. The acids and bases can be released into the soil and alter the pH. Different species of plants are designed to thrive under different levels of acidity, so an excessive amount of acidity might be lethal to your tree.
Mulch and Plant Growth
Applying mulch has the effect of delaying plant growth and can also cool the soil. This can be beneficial or detrimental depending on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to grow plants, you may want to delay adding mulch because they will be less likely to sprout. However, once the desired plants have begun growing, you may use mulch to fight weeds by making it more difficult for them to grow. However, some weeds may still sprout up and may need to be removed.