How To Landscape With Rock Mulch


When you are planning your landscape beds, you need to make a decision on whether you want to use wood mulch or rock mulch. Wood mulch needs ample amounts of nitrogen to decompose in the soil, so it robs your plants of their needed nitrogen. Also it has to be replenished frequently. Rock mulch doesn't decompose so it doesn't use valuable nitrogen from your soil. This allows you to fertilize less frequently. Landscaping with rock mulch is relatively simple and does not take much time at all to create an attractive bed.

Step 1

Design your landscape bed. Use marking paint to mark the outline of your bed.

Step 2

Dig a trench 3 inches deep around the entire outline of your landscape bed. The edge of the trench should be vertical on the side facing your lawn, and should slope up at a 45-degree angle toward your planting bed. This will create a barrier for your rock mulch. It will also keep the lawn from growing into the landscape bed.

Step 3

Lay out your plants in their desired places in the bed. Plant them in the ground and water well to settle the soil.

Step 4

Spread the rock mulch around your plants to a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Lift any leaves of the plants up and out of the way while spreading the rocks to prevent them from getting crushed under the rocks. Allow the rocks to butt up to the vertical edge of the trench you dug.

Step 5

Use a leaf blower to remove any fallen leaves or other plant material every few weeks. If this plant material is allowed to decompose in your rock mulch, your rocks will eventually be buried under organic material.

Tips and Warnings

  • Rock mulch absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night, which may cause your plants to use more water. Avoid using rock mulch around tender plants that cannot handle heat well.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Marking paint
  • Shovel
  • Plants
  • Garden hose
  • Water source
  • Rock mulch
  • Garden rake
  • Leaf blower


  • NC State University: Mulching Trees and Shrubs
  • Colorado State University Extension: Mulching With Wood/Bark Chips, Grass Clippings, and Rock
  • Washington State University Extension: Bark vs. Rock Mulches
  • Cornell University: Mulches For Landscaping
Keywords: using rock mulch, applying rock mulch, landscaping with rocks, spreading rock mulch, planting bed, landscape bed

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.