Decorative Stone and Gravel Mulch

Decorative Gravel and Landscape Stone
Homeowners sometimes get weary of refreshing wood mulches, and decide to use decorative stone mulch instead. Boulders can add interest to garden beds.

WOOD MULCH OR STONE?
While the initial installation of decorative stone is considerably more tedious and expensive, it can pay dividends in the long run. Bob shares his photos here of the more commonly used decorative landscape stone like river rock, shore gravel and lava rock.

Wow, this big rock is hard to handle!

Wow, this big rock is hard to handle!

Decorative stone basics

Most stone and gravel is graded with numbers related to its size. For example, #2 is likely two-inches in diameter and #3 is three-inches in diameter. Some of the photos below have a 12-ounce can of soda or a Quarter to help show stone sizes.

LANDSCAPE FABRIC
While Bob doesn’t recommend using landscape fabric (or black plastic) under wood mulches, he does recommend using landscape fabric under stone mulches. It is also advisable to use tarps when trimming shrubs that are growing in decorative rock landscape beds to ease clean-up and keep decorative gravel clean. VIDEO: How to use tarps when trimming a shrub

Shore Stone

Shore stone is a lighter color and costs more than more commonly used river rock, which is usually brown in color.

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Shore stone

#2 to 4 Shore Stone along a brick wall. Rigid landscape edging could be added to contain the stone, create a more mowable /trimmable straight edge, and stop inward-growing lawn grasses.

1b shore gravel
1b shore gravel

3/4 to 2 shore stone
3/4 to 2 shore stone

2 to 4 shore stone
2 to 4 shore stone
River Rock

River rock is typically used in landscape beds where a brown color and more permanent cover than wood mulch is desired. Using mixed sizes helps fill-in the gaps between larger stones.

2 to 4 tan gravel
2 to 4 tan gravel

4 to 12 tan gravel
4 to 12 tan gravel
Bob’s Wheelbarrow Tips
  1. To move landscaping materials, buy a good quality wheelbarrow with a pneumatic tire, strong wooden handles and 4 to 6 cubic foot capacity. Maintain the correct tire pressure, oil the axle occasionally and store it out of the weather.
  2. Take partial loads when moving heavier materials like stone and soil.
  3. Load most of the weight toward the front of the wheelbarrow to balance the load and keep weight off the handles (..it’s one thing to push a heavy load, another to have to lift it at the same time!).
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Load weight toward the front!

Soil is properly distributed in this wheelbarrow, creating better balance for easier “wheeling.” Before starting, inflate tire to recommended pressure (found on the side of the tire as “PSI” or Pounds per Square Inch) prior to moving heavy loads.

Colorful landscape stone

Decorative stone is more expensive than wood mulches, but provides a more permanent cover in landscape beds. Some decorative stone shown below may be difficult to find.

Arctic Rainbow stone
Arctic Rainbow stone

Barn Red stone
Barn Red stone

Empire Black stone
Empire Black stone

Terrapin Green stone
Terrapin Green stone

Red lava rock
Red lava rock

2 to 5 slate chips
2 to 5 slate chips
White gravel

White decorative stone usually makes a bright, bold statement in the landscape, sharply contrasting landscape plantings.

White pea gravel
White pea gravel

#3 white gravel
#3 white gravel

4 to 12 white gravel
4 to 12 white gravel
Boulders and landscape rocks

Boulders add a nice accent to landscape plantings, but only use the types of stone resistant to the freeze-thaw cycles of winter weather. Special care should be taken when moving and placing boulders to save on smashed fingers and bad backs.

River rock boulders
River rock boulders

Boulders on pallets
Boulders on pallets

Palletized boulders wrapped with chicken wire
Palletized boulders wrapped with chicken wire

R4 limestone
R4 limestone
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