Decorative Rocks vs. Mulch vs. Soil: Pros & Cons

Decorative Rocks vs. Mulch vs. Soil: Pros & Cons

Landscaping Pros and Cons of Rocks vs. Mulch vs. Soil

Have you been wondering which is best to put around your shrubs, decorative rocks vs. mulch vs. soil? How about the flower beds using rocks instead of mulch?

Your landscaping materials have the potential to make or break the curb appeal of your home. 

When it comes to the landscaping pros and cons of rocks vs. mulch, several factors come into play.

These include the climate in your region, the nutritional needs of your plants, and the creative vision for your garden. 

Below, we’re going to take a look at soil vs. mulch and mulch vs. rocks so you can make the best decision for your home.

Decorative Rocks

Out of all your options for landscaping materials, a well-placed display of decorative rocks may be the most eye-catching.

Not only do they add color and texture to any garden, but they have the longevity that mulch and soil do not. In other words, you rarely – if ever – need to replace rocks.

Another perk is that rocks are inflammable, unlike mulch. If you live in a region prone to wildfires, rocks are your safest choice. 

However, planting flower beds with rocks instead of mulch does have disadvantages. Because they don’t have nutrients, rocks don’t encourage your plants to grow.

When the fall season is in full swing and the leaves fall, plant beds with rocks can be a nuisance. As the leaves sit throughout the winter they will shrivel up and can become embedded within the rocks making it not fun to get out in the springtime.

Rocks are also prone to trapping too much heat from the sun and causing plants to overheat.


When considering the landscaping pros and cons of rocks vs. mulch, keep in mind that mulch is better at absorbing water. This extra layer of protection keeps topsoil intact when heavy rain occurs.

While both rocks and mulch discourage the growth of weeds, mulch has nutrients that help plants grow.

Since mulch is lighter than soil, it’s much easier and faster to install. If you’re laying down your own mulch, be sure not to spread it too thinly or thickly. One to three inches of mulch is ideal. If it’s too thick, it may have the same effect as rocks and overheat the soil. If it’s too thin, harsh rain might wash it away.

Mulch is also prone to attracting egg-laying pests if it’s not cared for properly, therefore an extra effort is needed to replace the mulch every year.

If not replaced, it is essential to rake it and move it around to let the sun dry it out. Otherwise, Artillery Fungus, also referred to as shotgun fungus, a wood-decay fungus, will grow on moist mulch. If you have ever seen tiny grease-like spots on the cars, the exterior of your home or outdoor furniture, these fungi have most likely found these areas to land on. Artillery Fungus shoots spores up to twenty feet toward white or light-colored objects.

On a positive note, ticks that can carry Lyme disease will not cross over mulch from the tall grasses they thrive in. On a negative note, ticks can be carried over by pets and people. It is always recommended to hire a professional pest control company to get rid of ticks on properties as they can be harmful to humans and pets alike.


Soil is foundational for the success of any garden. It’s the very thing that helps plants to thrive, which is why it’s used instead of dirt.

Garden soil is made up of sand or topsoil. It contains a number of other organic materials as well, such as chicken manure or composted bark.

Because of its thickness, garden soil has the ability to hold water and promote the growth of roots.

Garden soil does a better job than regular soil of helping your plants grow, especially if climate conditions are not ideal.

Landscaping Pros and Cons of Rocks vs. Mulch vs. Soil

As you can see, there are landscaping pros and cons of rocks vs. mulch. Soil vs. mulch is a worthy consideration, too.

No matter which landscaping materials you choose, it’s important to know upfront how much time and money you’ll spend on maintaining your garden.

That’s where we come in. To turn your lawn into the garden of your dreams, get in touch with the expert landscapers at Fernandez & Sons for a free quote. 

Decorative Rocks vs. Mulch vs. Soil: Pros & Cons