When it comes to deciding upon a ground cover for your backyard, you have various alternatives, which range from synthetic material, such as landscape fabric and recycled rubber strips, to natural organic mulch and natural inorganic mulch. In the inorganic category, you’ll find rock-based ground covers such as gravel, volcanic rock and shattered stones. If you decide to use rocks in your landscape, then be conscious of its advantages and disadvantages so that you can make an educated decision.
Aces: Common Care
Some types of ground cover, especially plants such as vines and low-growing shrubs, require constant maintenance concerning trimming, watering and fertilizing. Even non-living, organic ground covers require periodic maintenance. For example, various varieties of wood chips and bark chips will need to be replaced every month or two because the wood’s color fades. Rock-based ground covers are low-maintenance as they aren’t alive, don’t require constant replacing, maintain their appearance and are not readily blown away by the wind or displaced by you or your pets.
Pros: Does Not Decompose
Other mulches, such as wood chips, decompose as soon as you expose them to rain, rain and other components. Not so with rocks, gravel and stones ground covers, which last many times longer than nearly any other ground cover.
Aces: More Effective
In certain parts of your home’s landscape, durability is also an important factor. This is especially true in areas such as walkways or a driveway where organic or living ground covers would be easily trampled or destroyed by visitors or cars. Gravel and other forms of stone ground cover stand up to heavy usage.
When wood chips, bark strips and plant ground covers decompose, they quickly entice tens of thousands of different kinds of insects that are drawn into the decaying organic matter. Of more significance are termites, which are drawn to many types of cellulose-containing mulches. Pea gravel and other sorts of inorganic ground cover don’t decompose and minimize the danger of such bug problems.
Disadvantages: Sink into the Soil
Rocks and other stone-based ground covers are usually heavier than the ground upon which they are put. With time, the stones can begin to sink deep down into the ground, where they could interfere with healthy soil structure and make it tough to till or replant the region in the future.
Disadvantages: Projectile Injuries
If you’re using stone-based ground covers near areas that are mowed or trimmed, then the lawn mower or trimmer can catch on the stones and fling them into the air. These flying projectiles could produce a significant hazard for you and your loved ones.
Disadvantages: Heat Raises
Pea gravel, volcanic rock and similar stones possess a high capacity for absorbing and retaining heat, which they then release since the sun goes down. Rocks also reflect a lot of heat from their exposed surfaces. The combination of both variables can increase the daytime and evening temperatures in the region and make your house hot, especially when you own these ground covers close to your exterior walls.
Disadvantages: No Nutrients
As organic ground covers, both living and dead, decompose, they add important nutrients to the ground such as nitrogen and phosphorous. Inorganic mulches don’t decompose and don’t improve the soil.