Landscaping Rocks vs. Mulch in Central Florida: Which is Best?

Posted by Joe Mouad on Mar 23, 2023 11:00:00 AM

It’s kind of fun to compare stuff.

Mustard vs ketchup on hot dogs? Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man or Andrew Garfield? Is mulch or rock better for landscaping in Central Florida?

Grab a hot dog and let’s take a look. Ground Source landscape designer Eric Frisch offers some advice.

Landscaping Rock vs Mulch: The Case for Mulch

Frisch says mulch, all the way. 

Use This Guide To Create The Landscape of Your Dreams
What’s so great about mulch? So many things:

  • Mulch helps your soil retain moisture, so you won't have to water as much. Here in hot, sunny, Central Florida, that’s a real bonus.

  • Mulch keeps pesky weeds at bay by blocking the Florida sunlight they need to sprout.

  • Mulch prevents rain from washing away your landscape soil.

  •  “Mulch and landscape waste all break down together, so they add nutrients to the soil,” Frisch says.

  • Landscaping rock vs mulch budget tip:  Mulch is much cheaper than landscape rock. 

One thing to note: Mulch fades in the strong Central Florida sun and breaks down over time, so you’ll need to replace it once or twice a year. There’s nothing like a fresh topping of rich, dark mulch — It makes your landscaping beds, and your whole yard, look instantly great.mulch in landscape bed with plantings

Mulch vs Rock for Landscaping: What to Know About Rock

Is mulch or rock better for landscaping in Central Florida? There are times when rocks might be a better fit than mulch for landscaping:

  • If you have drainage issues, rock allows water to drain quickly.

  • If you’re a no muss, no fuss landscaping type, and have open bed areas without plants to drop messy debris, rock is an easy, no-maintenance option. Unlike mulch, it lasts for years with no need to replace it.

  • Rocks are great for high-traffic areas, where pedestrians tend to take shortcuts. No trampled plants.

But when it comes to landscaping rocks vs mulch, sorry, rock, Frisch really doesn’t like you. Don’t expect him to recommend rock for your landscape design.mulch in landscape beds with plantings
“I don't mind decorative boulders, but rocks as a groundcover just collect landscape waste,” Frisch says. “And people never clean them out well enough to keep the rock looking good.” That means an untidy mess that makes your landscaping look messy and neglected. 

Other reasons he’s anti-rock:

  • The leaves and plant debris that get stuck in landscaping rock decompose and turn into soil for weeds to grow, Frisch says. Think putting landscaping fabric under the rocks will solve that problem? Not likely, he says. “It doesn't stop weeds ever,” he says. “Organic material will accumulate on top of it and it's really there just to keep the rock from sinking into the dirt.”
  • The cost of rock mulch varies, depending on the type and size, but generally costs two to three times more than an application of mulch.

Landscaping Rock vs Mulch: If You Really Want Rock

Are you frowning right now because you really, really like rock? mulch in landscape bed with palm tree
Frisch offers a few tips:

  • Keep landscaping beds to a minimum so the rock doesn’t distract from the beauty of your house.

  • The fewer plants in rock beds, the better. It makes it easier to clean out the inevitable debris.

  • You’ll need edging to keep the rocks from straying into your landscaping, and landscape fabric underneath to keep the rocks from sinking into the ground.

  • If you live in a HOA, check your community’s rules before investing in rock, Frisch says. It might not be allowed, or there might be restrictions on certain colors or types.

Pondering Mulch vs Rock for Landscaping? Trust Ground Source in Central Florida

Is mulch or rock better for landscaping in Central Florida? 

Here at Ground Source, we prefer the beauty and ease of mulch, but ultimately, it’s up to you. 

Need other landscaping advice? Give us a call. 

We’re mulch experts,  but our skills don’t stop there. We’re with you every step of the way as you plan your perfect outdoor space.

Sod, irrigation, landscape design: Let us transform your landscape from an embarrassing eyesore to a place you spend every spare minute.

Are you ready to enjoy the vibrant, impressive landscape you've always wanted? Request a quote today! We’ll help you review your options and then transform your property.

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