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rock instead of mulch?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by fastbs, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. fastbs

    fastbs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 111

    I'm a mow and run operation and do very little landscaping. I'm about to do a little work in my own yard. I have some existing shrubs that i want leave and make some nice beds around them. I would like to use river rock instead of mulch. Should i put anything down to keep grass from growing in my rock or just spray it to keep the grass and weeds out? When I mulch i don't put anything down but I'm hoping for a more maintenance free idea for my own stuff. Then it really doesn't get much easier than sparying a little every couple months.

    Any ideas welcome...
  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    That's the beauty of mulch...no barrier is required. First, we need to understand what barrier does. Contrary to what it is TITLED for, and what people believe it does, it does NOT stop weeds from growing through. It holds them back for a time, but inevitably, the growth comes right through. It's actual MAIN purpose is to keep the aggregate from dissipating down into the ground. A good quality FELT barrier is recommended, and a quality edging needs to be installed to hold the edges down and keep the stone in the beds.
    With mulch, no barrier required, and the mulch naturally decomposes and just needs to be top dressed a bit on occasion - making them look brand new again. MUCH cheaper. Another ting with mulch, is that you can just use a natural edge - cut from the sod and trenched out a bit (either manually or mechanically). Personally, for homes, I prefer mulch. This way, it can be switched up (variety) once in a while, as well.
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Runner is all over it.

    The only other thing that I could add is with mulch, you'll have a better option of changing your plant arrangement if mulch is there instead of rock.

    Even with mulch, if you keep up with pre-em applications and spraying once every 2-4 weeks, you'll be able to keep up with the weeds.

    You almost have to pull or spray the same cycle in rock beds after about four years or so. Eventually the silt fills in between the rock and helps seeds to germinate.

    If you check out my thread, I have examples of both kinds of mulch.

    If you look at the last page, the job I just completed has both kinds of beds on one property.



    The fabric under the the edging helps grass from encroaching back into the beds.

  4. Kennedy Landscaping

    Kennedy Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,599

    More options for re-arranging plants and whatnot if you go the mulch route. Personally, I think mulch looks better around bushes and shrubs. But its your lawn.
  5. fastbs

    fastbs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 111

    alright i'll go with mulch. I got all fired up to start this project and now I think we're gonna have to start building an ark. I can't remember the last time we got this much rain. However the ground will be soft and easy to work when the rain stops.
  6. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    Just make sure it's good and dry before you do any digging. If you start making clods, then it takes years for them to break down. That, and it will make it easier to correct the grade if need be.

    If you can till as finely as possible then you'll give yourself a better chance at success.

    I know how you feel about the rain. Around here last seven days has been the driest it's been since January.

    STIHL GUY LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Posts: 5,225

    you could try putting down one of those black fabric tarps under the rock

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