Is Bark or Stone Mulch Better Protection for You?

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Bark or Stone Mulch: which is better?

Your home provides comfort and shelter to your loved ones, but is more than just the house and furnishings. It’s also the shrubs, trees and flowers that beautify and protect your property. They help prevent erosion and secure the foundation on which your house stands.

One of the essential tools to maintain the effectiveness of your landscape protection is mulch. However, there are numerous types of mulch available. The two primary categories of mulch which can be found anywhere in the country are bark and stone – but which is better for you? As the Augusta Chronicle in Georgia recently pointed out, mulch choice matters.

In deciding between stone or bark, and the appropriate amount you need, you should consider a number of factors:

1. Topography of your land – If the area is hilly and subject to runoff, stone mulch will probably better secure the soil and any landscape fabric you’ve laid down. Mulch made of bark shreds or chips need to be supplemented more frequently than stone as a general rule. Bark chips are light enough that they can even gradually float away in areas of heavy rain, requiring you to add bark even more often.

2. Sun Exposure – For areas of full sun with little shade, it’s probably better to choose bark. Stone mulch is better in shady areas because it can increase the temperature of the soil. As a result, the stones will cause greater evaporation and reduce the amount of moisture retained in the soil, and can cause plants in full sun to delay entering a dormant state for the winter.

3. Permanence – If you think you will want to change your landscaping design every few years, you may prefer bark. Bark is significantly lighter than stone and can be relocated or removed with greater ease.

4. Soil Composition – When the color of the leaves of your trees starts to dim in summer, it may mean the soil has become poor in nutrients. For nutrient-poor soil, an organic mulch like bark may be your better choice. Bark will decay over the years and as it decomposes it will rebuild the health of the soil.

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5. Aesthetics – While you want your home to be protected, it is almost as important that you appreciate the way it looks. If you prefer a more elegant look, consider stone mulch. While organic mulch enriches the soil as it decays, it also results in a less well-groomed appearance as it approaches the time for the next supplement of bark. Each category of mulch also has a number of styles from which to choose. Shredded bark can be made from many different woods, and can vary in color and fragrance, as well as its effectiveness as a pest repellent. Bark chips and stones are available in multiple colors and sizes as well.

6. Cost – The price is always a factor, and if it is the deciding factor for you, you may prefer bark. Generally, bark is significantly less expensive than stone and your initial outlay of cash will be less. Even though bark has to be replaced significantly earlier and more regularly than stone, it can take years before the total cost of all bark purchases is equivalent to the initial cost of stone.

Ultimately, you must consider the physical needs and characteristics of your landscape and weigh those against your aesthetic considerations. Add in your personal budget requirements, and you can bring home the perfect mulch to protect your landscape. The mulch experts at Melvin Mulch can help you decide which mulch is best for your property. Call us at 414-856-9077 to find out more.

See also “Mulch vs. Stone: A Landscaping Debate

Photo by Jeremy Levine from Flickr using Creative Commons license.