Landscape Gravel vs. Natural Mulch

What Are The Advantages of Landscape Gravel vs. Natural Mulch?

Many customers inquire about mulching their shrubbery beds with landscape gravel instead of mulch in an effort to eliminate annual mulching.  It is correct that once gravel is installed, it can last for a decade or more.  Gravel can control weed growth, make mowing easier, and be esthetically pleasing with a minimal investment of time.  However, degradable mulches such as pine straw and wood bark offer many advantages.  Natural mulches make it much easier to make changes and additions to your garden.  They greatly enhance the soil and nourish the plants as they decompose.   Most plants tend to grow better with natural mulches as a cover because they provide a cooler surface.  When used around environments containing concrete, brick, stone, and other hard surfaces, organic mulches create a much softer, natural feeling.  On the other hand, landscape gravel tends to create a glaring, institutional feel.  Gravel tends to have disadvantages at a much greater initial cost. It is difficult to work with as plants grow and beds need to be widened.  In order to use gravel, a landscape fabric is also required as a base treatment.  The greatest expense involving gravel comes 10 to 15 years later when it has to be removed and replaced.  Both types of mulches are susceptible to weed growth.    In our opinion, the organic mulches are much kinder to plants and more pleasing esthetically.  We love to use boulders and waves of natural stone as accents, but unless there are special needs, we overwhelmingly prefer a natural type of mulch such as stained shredded hardwood or pine straw (needles) over the landscape gravel.