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Pros and cons of landscaping with Stone and Mulch

Stone provides more permanent solution, come with a higher price tag

Landscaping will boost a home’s curb appeal, but thought should go into which materials will be used to spruce up the yard based on the homeowner’s budget and goals.

The two most popular choices in the area are mulch and rocks, according to Jeff Leffert of Leffert Stone, and there are pros and cons to both.

“It’s always nice to have a budget in mind and to do your landscaping in small sections,” said Leffert. “Start small and work from there so you don’t get discouraged and take on too big a project.”

In addition to deciding on a budget, Leffert recommended that homeowners measure the areas they want to cover and get the square footage to determine how much material will be needed and see which products they can afford within their project’s budget.

While mulch is the less expensive option as opposed to stone, it typically needs to be replenished every couple of years. Stone is a more permanent solution, but it typically comes with a higher price tag. With mulch, the most popular products today are dyed hardwood from Indiana. Leffert said they’re dyed with a food coloring that is safe and more colorfast than products have been in the past.

Color options range from dark brown and red to gold and black. Leffert said dark brown is the most popular choice due to its more natural look.

For those who want to landscape with rock but have a tight budget, Leffert said an economical choice is local river rock. From there, an array of stones are available that vary in price. Much of what affects the price, he said, is where the rocks come from. If they’re shipped from the west coast, for example, transportation costs cause the price to inflate.

“It’s all about looks. It’s all coloration. It depends on how fancy you want to go, whether you like onyx or whether you like diamonds,” he said.

Once the products are in hand and the homeowner is ready to landscape, Leffert said they will want to remove sod or other debris in their yard so the material they put down is flush with the ground. If they’re using stone, Leffert said to cover the area with landscape fabric before putting down the stone.

He doesn’t recommend putting down anything when using mulch.

“We don’t recommend it under mulch. In the case of stone, the fabric keeps the stone out of the dirt. People think of it as a weed barrier — and it is to a point — but weed seeds blow into rock and mulch from the surrounding area. You’re going to get weeds regardless because the weeds will grow right in the rock and through the fabric, but mulch you don’t necessarily need to keep it out of the dirt like you do stone. It just keeps stone cleaner looking,” he said.

While anytime the ground is “fit to work” is an ideal time to do landscaping, Leffert said most people choose to do it in the spring before Memorial Day.

“They’ve been cooped up all winter, and doing yard work is something they enjoy and getting projects done before it starts getting into the heat of the summer,” he said.

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