Mulch offers a number of benefits as a bedding for your flower beds, around trees, and under your hedges. While retaining moisture in the ground, mulch also breaks down slowly to help provide nutrients for your various plants. It has an attractive look, and comes in a variety of dyed colors to fit your garden designs. Why then are so many people switching to decorative gravel?

The truth is, mulch is a hassle. And we find ourselves debating its value every single time we re-mulch a bed. The colors fade, a leaf blower aimed in the wrong direction can create a mess, and any heavy rainfall wreaks havoc on mulch beds. Two or three times a year we find ourselves having to dress up or refill the beds, just to keep up that “fresh” look. One of the biggest reasons that homeowners will switch to gravel is because they are so fed up with the endless cycle of maintenance. 

Landscape Gravel

Landscape rock in Ponte Vedra, Florida

Decorative gravels offer a maintenance-free alternative to mulch. When installed properly (with a quality weed matting between the gravel and the ground), the stones will not settle or sink. This means that YEARS later, the gravel will be just same as when you installed it. Many of the stone options can also withstand a leaf blower, which makes maintaining the beds even easier. Not only will it survive an accidental pass of a blower, but you can even use a blower on the gravel to clean up debris that has landed in the beds.

Using decorative gravel as an alternative to mulch also provides a wider range of colors and textures than what can be found in shredded hardwoods or bark. Whites, reds, gray, a variety of earth tones, even blues or black can be found in gravels. The gravel itself can be round, or in chunks or chips, in a range of sizes to fit the design and preferences you have for your flower beds.

Brown River Rock, Red Lava, and Colorado River Jack Samples

What about cost

Isn’t decorative gravel expensive? Initially, there is a more significant cost to making the switch. Gravel can be 3-5 times the cost of mulch as compared to same quantity, however the savings add up quickly. Typically, in a two to three year time frame the gravel investment becomes a savings over what would have been spent in mulch during that same time. Every season after that the savings become even greater, allowing your landscape budget the freedom to be used in other ways.

 

When it comes to decorative landscape gravel, it can be broken down pretty simply: It doesn’t decompose, bugs don’t eat it, and heavy rains or a leaf blower won’t disturb it. The long-term savings far outweigh the initial cost, and the colors remain steadfast. With so many people deciding how best to invest in their homes, the time to make the switch is now.

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