Landscaping with rock instead of mulch is easy and is something you won’t have to replace year after year. Learn what we think about mulch vs. rock, how much our flower bed with rocks cost and how long the rock landscaping bed has lasted us!
We are still working on the patio spruce-up. Honestly, we will be working on our patio for quite some time but are making progress for sure! If you missed the first installment of the patio spruce-up, or the DIY Scrap wood rolling planter, make sure to check those out! Basically, we are working on sprucing up the patio over the next month or so… on a serious budget! So, let’s chat about our decision for using rocks instead of mulch and what that entailed.
Landscaping with Rock
A few years ago, we spruced up the back patio landscaping beds with mulch. Actually, we spruced up all our flower beds with mulch. They all looked great. But, at over $600 in mulch to get all the areas looking nice, it was just too much. It would have been ok if that $600 lasted a few years, but really the mulch in our area needs to be done yearly. We have tons of trees on our property and on the property all around us. So, between the branches and leaves that constantly fall, we are out there with a leaf blower trying to keep the spaces cleared. Well, the leaf blower not only takes care of the leaves but it also moves the mulch around. So, about six months after we put in all that mulch – it was looking pretty bad.
Some areas in our yard can look more “organic” or less manicured. The patio area definitely pulls traditional and needs the mulch landscape beds to look nice.
Luke and I finally came to the realization that we just couldn’t keep up with all the flower bed areas and we had to start making some changes. One of the changes we made was to replace all the mulch around the patio with river rocks and, possibly, all the flower beds with rocks instead of mulch. I had seen some river rock flower beds online and thought they looked nice. I knew from experience in our past house that flower bed rocks would keep/stay much better than mulch, so we decided to go for it.
My step-brother and I put in the rock flower beds a few years’ ago and it’s been working well for us. I wanted to wait a bit to share because I wanted to give my honest opinion on the mulch vs. rock look. I felt like I really needed to see how the river rock looked over time before reporting back in on to give advice on replacing mulch for you!
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How to Make a Flower Bed with Rock
- Prepare the flower bed by ripping out all the old plants.
- Rake off excess old mulch.
- Add landscape fabric under rocks. Hammer in pins about every 12″ to secure.
- Place your plants on the landscape fabric to determine placement.
- Once you have determined plant placement, cut into fabric and plant.
- Place river rock in flower bed
What Does A White Rock Flower Bed Cost?
The landscape area around our patio is pretty large. I think it took about 20 bags of river rock. The total for this project came to around $175.
In hindsight, it would have been cheaper to grab river rock by the truckload instead of the bags. I was just eye-balling the bags and we used way more than I expected to use.
So, do we love it? Yes and no! I love the ease of maintaining it. We can use the leaf blower for just a few minutes and it looks great. The rocks stay in place and I don’t have to worry about them.
BUT… I don’t love it quite as much as fresh mulch. I think there’s something really homey about fresh mulch that you can’t quite get with the rocks. However, as soon as fresh mulch starts looking not so fresh then I definitely don’t love that either. I do think once my plants grow to be a bit bigger, it will feel homier.
Overall, we are definitely glad we chose to landscape with the rocks instead of the mulch. It has helped the patio stay cleaner and more put together and, in the long-run, it will be much cheaper. If you want to see more of our patio, then make sure to check out our home tour!
Other rock landscaping ideas could include: adding rock around trees, under or by a water feature, creating a dry rock creek, etc.
What do you think of the whole rock vs mulch situation? Would you ever consider using rocks instead of mulch or do you love the fresh mulch look?
We recently did a big rock landscape project in our front yard. We had a retaining wall built with a flagstone patio on top and a river rock bed (with flat rocks which I love) coming out from underneath it. The dry rock creek really changed our front yard landscaping and added a great focal point to the front of our house. I love how easy the rock is to care for. We did create a few tiny garden beds around the rock creek to help soften the edges, but kept it all low maintenance with the ground covers like monkey grass.
p.s. Did you know that you could…