We commonly get asked the question, “Which product is better for planting beds, Mulch or Stone?” Each product has their pros and cons, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference.
Mulch is great around plants because it preserves moisture and prevents extreme temperature fluctuations. During the summer, mulch protects the soil from the hot sun rays therefore reducing water evaporation. In winter, the mulch insulates the soil reducing frost heaving and the possibility of root damage. Over time, mulch will break down and slowly add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. As mulch decomposes, the activity of beneficial microorganisms in the soil will increase and soil porosity and moisture retention will improve. This will provide a very healthy environment essential for root growth. However, there are some drawbacks with mulch. As mulch decomposes, a thin 1” layer of new mulch should be added annually to keep your planting beds neat and healthy.
Stone is a very decorative and low maintenance alternative to mulch. When using stone, it is best to place landscape fabric underneath to prevent weeds from encroaching and the stones from sinking deep into the soil. Stone does not provide any nutritional benefits to the soil like organic bark mulch, but it deters insects and disease causing pathogens from inhabiting planting beds. Stone can become extremely hot during the summer months and some plants may not be tolerant of these hot conditions. However, stone is very low maintenance and does not need to be replaced annually.