Struggling to decide between rocks or mulch? Besides all the major landscaping components of what trees or flowers to use and where to put them, you also need to decide what kind of ground cover you will use. The typical homeowner rarely sees the pros and cons of either. We are here to help give you some helpful insight into what is better, rocks or mulch!


With mulch, there are two main types- bulk and hardwood. Both come in a variety of colors. Bulk consists of recycled wood products, which might appeal to the Eco-friendly gardener. Hardwood, on the other hand, might hold up better. Here are the main pros and cons of both types of mulch.


Variety of Colors: If you love picking out colors, mulch comes in many types! From dark brown to light red, you’ll have a lot to choose from.

Cost: Compared to other choices, mulch is relatively cheaper. This could be a great option for those with limited budgets, but large spaces to fill. Even clients that have more to spend use mulch, so it’s not a “cheap looking” ground cover, especially if you have landscapers doing it.

Holds in Moisture: Mulch is one of the best choices for flower beds with heavily packed plants and newly planted trees, because of its great moisture retention. This also means you will have to water less, which your water bill will thank you for.

Easy to Use: Mulch is not too heavy to move around and application can be quickly done by the everyday homeowner.

Added Nutrients: Mulch breaks down, since it’s made of organic materials, it will provide nutrients to the soil.

Temperature Regulation: Naturally, mulch can keep the ground cool and moist during the summer and provide a warm blanket during colder months.


Easily Moves Around: Because mulch is not too heavy, it can have the tendency to blow around or get washed away and wind up on the sidewalk or driveway.

More Upkeep: You will have to add mulch at least once a year, since it breaks down. Sometimes when it’s older or not applied correctly, weeds have a better tendency to pop up. Make sure you aren’t packing on too much or too little.

Limited Placement: It might not be a good idea to stick mulch right up against a building. Wood-based mulches can attract termites, which you don’t want anywhere near your structure. There are some mulches that termites don’t like, such as cedar, cypress, redwood, and melaleuca.


Rocks have been popular for years in dryer climates, but we are seeing more and more of them around the Tri-state area. They come in many styles and shapes that can allure many homeowners that want some variation.


Long Lasting: Rocks usually stay where you place them. They don’t degrade or blow away. A good layer of rocks can last in your yard 10 years or more!

Easy Upkeep: Rocks will not usually need replacing. If you have debris in your rock garden, you can always use a leaf blower or shop vac to clean it up!

Helpful Signal: When you have rocks up next to your house, they can tip you off on whether the soil underneath is degrading. Watch for a dip in the level.


Hard to Install: If you have a large area to fill, get ready to get pumped up because rocks are heavy! This process takes a lot more time and effort, weight-wise and with spreading. You will want to spend time filling all the holes and getting it leveled right.

Expensive: Rocks can be up to 4 or 5 times more expensive than mulch, depending on the type. It should be looked upon as an upfront investment that could pay off.

It’s Dry: If you have new plants or flowers that need a lot of watering, you might want to steer away from rock coverings. Rocks should be considered when using around plants that don’t require a lot of watering, like succulents. That is why we see them out west so often.

Bottom Line

No matter what you go with, do your research. We have only scraped the surface of facts about rocks and mulch. There are also landscaping alternatives to these such as plant ground coverings. Some people like to use creeping phlox or thyme to fill a space that would otherwise be bare. We find a mixture of coverings to be best! Here are some landscaping ideas using mulch, rocks, and plants.

Still can’t decide or don’t feel like landscaping. The team at RedHawk is here to help! We can deliver and distribute mulch or rocks with ease. No need for you to lift a finger! We can also install while you are away. Let’s plan your landscaping dreams today!

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