Even though it’s still winter, it’s time to start thinking about spring projects, like renovating landscapes and refreshing plant beds. That leads us to the topic of groundcovers, and the two most popular choices are mulch and rock. They each offer their own individual pros and cons as far as maintenance, aesthetics, and cost. It's important to consider these aspects because your plants need adequate protection from harsh weather conditions such as extreme heat or frigid cold weather. Not only that, they need help maintaining moisture and retaining nutrients.


So when it comes to a groundcover, your plants definitely need one, but which is better? Mulch or rock? Learn more about the difference between these two and what may work best for your property in or around Noblesville, Carmel, or Westfield, IN.


Mulch holds moisture fairly well, and for that reason, mulched landscape beds require less watering than beds covered with rocks. Mulch will also break down over time, and that’s actually a bonus! As mulch breaks down, it releases nutrients into the landscaping bed which effectively reaches the plants.

Another checkmark in the ‘pro’ column is that mulch provides natural weed protection. Mulch blocks sunlight, which keeps weeds at bay by depriving them of one of their main nutrients. If the weather gets cool, you can also rest assured that your plants will be protected because mulch is an efficient natural insulator.


Mulch certainly has its perks, but one of the downsides is that mulch needs to be refreshed yearly. Because the mulch breaks down, by the time the snow melts, it’s time for a fresh installation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's one more bullet point you have to add to your annual checklist.

But buyer beware—cheaper mulch may unintentionally come with weed seeds, and too much mulch can smother plants. Pros—like the Spider team—understand the special tips and tricks for effective mulch installation, that eliminate these factors.


Rock mulch installed around an evergreen tree in Noblesville, IN.

We love rock (though to be fair, we also love mulch). Rock cover is incredibly low maintenance. Seriously, it rarely needs to be replaced. However, additional rock can be added every couple of years to keep the color fresh.


Cost is certainly a factor. When you compare the base cost of rock versus mulch, rock may be more expensive upfront. With that being said, mulch needs to be replaced annually, and rock won’t need much in the way of touch-ups, making the overall cost lower. Like mulch, rock cover also provides weed protection because it takes up some of the usable space that weeds would need to grow.


As naturally-beautiful as a rock covering is, there are some downsides. Rocks can raise the soil temperature, which can negatively impact plants. They don't decompose or benefit plants in any way, and certain minerals found in some rock cover can potentially affect the soil pH as well.

While rock cover does provide weed protection, it’s simply not as effective as mulch. However, when combined with mulch, your landscape will have a modern aesthetic appeal as we all as adequate landscape bed protection.

So which one is better?

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer, and it basically comes down to personal preference. But to sum up:

  • Mulch provides a better growing environment for your plants but will require yearly replenishment.
  • Rocks provide long-term, minimal maintenance for your landscaping but won't provide the enhancement that mulch offers to the health of plants.

Do your landscape beds need refreshing? Schedule a mulch or rock service with us today.

Whether you decide on mulch or rock, we can help! Your landscape bed cover choice should be one that best fits your maintenance, aesthetic, and plant needs. Spider Lawn & Landscape offers services to properties in Noblesville, Carmel, and nearby areas of Indiana. When you’re ready for a bed renovation or refreshing, call us at (317) 900-7151 to schedule your service today!