Gardentime
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You Make The Call: Decorative Stone or Cedar Mulch?

Hi guys,

I need your opinions on what you would use on
your own home. I just re-landscaped the front
of our home and now comes the time to choose
what material to put down over plants. I thought
about mulch, but it will get quite costly putting it
down every year at $3.88 a bag for 2 cu. ft. I
love the look of rocks, especially the white/sand
colors.

My question is:

Would opting with decorative stones save me
money in the long run? I've seen landscapes that
are 15+ years old and still look great with rocks.

-If I had to have mulch, it would be the dyed black
mulch, I don't like the brown that much and I hate
the red!


We're not looking to spend $200 a year on mulch,
Please help!

Thanks..

bullthistle
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If you decide to use stone put down a weed barrier first. You will have to water more then usual if you use the stone as well. Personally I would use mulch, to each there own, and I'd only use brown sorry not the dyed.

Gardentime
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Location: Connecticut

Thanks Bullthistle for your response.

Everyone else, keep the suggestions coming!


This is an area that only gets a few select small weeds. We had rocks in the same place for about 10 years and that black stuff always popped up! I will never use it, it's annoying and I believe it's a waste of money. Plus the plants are already installed. The black fabric should have been laid down before plants were planted if I was to use it, correct?

I didn't mean to direct my feelings to you personally Bullthistle, it's just that i've never been able to get the fabric to work properly. I've even used it in commercial applications where the staples were even used to keep the wind from picking it up before mulch was laid...and the weeds still came up!

MaineDesigner
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Mulch, not stone. Mulch does a better job moderating fluctuations in soil moisture and surface soil temps. As it breaks down it improves soil tilth/structure. An application should last about three years. If you want to get rid of it is is comparatively easy to remove and dispose of.

Stone has its place, primarily in specialty alpine beds, some Japanese gardens and perhaps in the desert SW, but for general landscaping it is a horrible choice. It collects dust, seeds and leaf debris and is difficult to keep clean without meticulous maintenance. If not kept clean it develops an organic substrate that makes a great weed seed germination medium.

Also a big "No!" to landscape fabric and to dyed mulch. I prefer aged, shredded softwood.

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tomf
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Just my taste but I find the white rock to look unnatural and kind of tacky.

StorageSmart2
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Re: You Make The Call: Decorative Stone or Cedar Mulch?

Gardentime wrote:Hi guys,

I need your opinions on what you would use on
your own home. I just re-landscaped the front
of our home and now comes the time to choose
what material to put down over plants. I thought
about mulch, but it will get quite costly putting it
down every year at $3.88 a bag for 2 cu. ft. I
love the look of rocks, especially the white/sand
colors.

My question is:

Would opting with decorative stones save me
money in the long run? I've seen landscapes that
are 15+ years old and still look great with rocks.

-If I had to have mulch, it would be the dyed black
mulch, I don't like the brown that much and I hate
the red!


We're not looking to spend $200 a year on mulch,
Please help!

Thanks..
It's sounds almost like you really want the stones and are hoping that people will agree that they will be better in the long run.

I think that in the long run the mulch will be better, because it would be a better environment for your plants (unless they're "rocky soil" type plants of course). I've found on several occasions, from personal experience, that working with nature causes people less grief than working against it.

However, I think if you really want the stones to make your space the way that you want it to look then maybe you should. In essence, the purpose of a yard and a garden is to please the owner, so to speak.

Just make sure that you understand what type of environment you'll be providing your plants, whether or not they can handle it, and estimate the costs of redoing it in mulch later (in case you change your mind).

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rainbowgardener
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There are costs and there are costs.... Organic mulch breaks down and feeds the soil. My mulched perennial flower beds, I do not fertilize, just mulch twice a year. If you use only rock, you will probably need to add fertilizer of some sort. And as noted you will likely need to water more.

If you have a lot of area to cover, you can always have a cubic yard of mulch (or more if you have a use for more) delivered. Way cheaper that way than buying bags. Or you can do what I do... get a little chipper (one time cost) and chip up all the brush on the property to make your own free woodchips.
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scoobdoob808
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Have you seen the rubber mulch, made from recycled tires. It comes in Many many many colors. I have not personally used it, and I am not sure how long the colors hold true but I would think that Black would be great as it would not be dyed at all since that is what color tires are to begin with. Just a thought.

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Pineville
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Organic mulch- no stone, no rubber, no weed barrier.

If you want to cut down on long term costs and maintenance, fill in the area with groundcover.

Gardentime
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Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:03 am
Location: Connecticut

Thank you all for your thoughts! I do take them into account when planning my garden. Believe it or not I am a mulch lover, but I'm trying to make the front landscape feel "formal." We have a couple topiaries and have recently planted a few weeping evergreen specimens and also some boxwoods & dwarf thujas. When I think of a formal landscape I think of restaurants and commercial applications and love the types of rock they use. There is no way I would be able to get 3 years out of mulch at my house, the sun is extremely strong in the afternoon. We looked at pics of when the house was built and were amazed by how much the siding had faded and it's only been 10 years!

If I do use mulch it will only be in a few places...I love the mulch/rock combination that seems to be popular now. It wouldn't be that rubber stuff though!, it looks like ground up tires...So in response to one of the posters, yes I guess I'm going for the "cold" look.

We still haven't decided yet, but whatever we choose, it will make the landscape look better than it did before.


Thanks..

bullthistle
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Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:26 pm
Location: North Carolina

You can always put in some pink Flamingos like they do in Florida to go with your formal garden. Formal gardens have their place like around castles and they usually take away from the house and especially with rock mulch which they use extensively in Colorado, river rock, which is pleasing to the eye, when it's xeriscaping, but remember you'll have to water more then normally because the sun will dry out the soil faster. FYI, weed barrier is great but you cannot dump the rock on top of it you may lay the rock down by hand that's why you had the problem that you did. I'd used it all the time and never had a problem either before the plants were planted or after you just cannot take shortcuts and I never pinned it.

StorageSmart2
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Whatever you use, I hope everything works out well for you in the end. Don't forget to put up some pictures for us if you can. I'd love to see how the end result turned out. :D

The Helpful Gardener
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Arrgh! No rubber! Do you know [url=https://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/horticultural%20myths_files/Myths/Rubber%20mulch.pdf]what's in that stuff?[/url]

Stone, even on fabric gets to be a pain. In five years, when the leaves and such have built up in it and turned to soil and the weeeds are germinating in it, then what? Dig it out? Ever done that job? NASTY! :evil: One of the ugliest landscape jobs I ever had to do (and he was replacing it with wood mulch... hint, hint...)

Nope, natural wood mulch. Hemlock is dark, most evergreens are (cedar is lighter, but stays in place really well, even on banks) NO CYPRESS (they are harvesting wood that needs to be left in place). Nuggets last longer, but aren't quite as good at keeping out weeds...

Take my word for it (and the majority decision here, as I'm sure you have noted), this is best in the long run...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Reil

Deb_NY
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Oh... No Stone..

Hi .. 8) The white stone gets dirty and how do you clean them..? Besides all the leaves and debris blown into your bed..
I went to the nursery and purchased a pickup bed of mulch and shoveled it on our beds; no rubber or weed clothe. Some nurseries will deliver the mulch.. How may yards do you need?
I agree with MaineDesigner and bullthistle; the mulch is better for the plants and soil.

In your final decision - no matter what - do what pleases you. :clap:
:wink: Happy gardening!

maddiem
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Re: You Make The Call: Decorative Stone or Cedar Mulch?

HI

With out doubt, decorative stones would be prettiest an cheapest in the long run.


Keep up the work! :()

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LA47
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Re: You Make The Call: Decorative Stone or Cedar Mulch?

Though I agree with organic mulch (I've had to remove a large bed of red cinders!) I think the best look would be a ground cover plant, either green, variegated, or flowering. What ever is you choice. Then spend the money, instead of gravel, on a few nice large rocks. I've seen many commercial buildings that have used vinca, mondo grass, or even annual flowering low growers, etc. with specimen plants and a few large attractive rock. Very nice, and formal looking, in my opinion.
High Altitude Gardener zone 4B or 5A

cynthia_h
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Re: You Make The Call: Decorative Stone or Cedar Mulch?

Just an FYI: this thread was started in April 2010 and revived earlier today, after a hiatus dating back to July 2010. The OP may have made his/her decision a while back....

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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tomf
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Re: You Make The Call: Decorative Stone or Cedar Mulch?

It has been a long time, I go to a few forums to get information and to talk about the things I like. Often some one will post a question and some times it will be on an issue that other people would also like to know what they did, but they never post back as to what they did, or how some thing worked. I make an effort to post back as I feel it is only the polite thing to do.
I called in for some free mulch from the people who do tree work, waiting for a call back, the county is not so good at call backs. I know a tree service that sells truck loads for $35. I grind up a ton of brush but I use the brush hog and it scatters it to the wind. If you can use a truck load of chipping then getting it from a tree service is the way to go, often free. I have gotten a few loads free before.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

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