Mulch, Pine Needles, or Rocks?

First off, this topic can get heated. We're not here to persuade anyone one way or the other, but if you're planning a landscape project and you're on the fence this may be a helpful article for you. Now, we also need to remind you to check with your CCRs and HOA management company before you make a change.

Pine Straw

For those who aren’t big fans of mulch, pine straw is a very popular option as well. Unlike mulch, it does not hold water, as the thin needles allow it to pass through quite easily. Its rich color that fades to a deep brown later in the season is also quite an attractive landscaping choice.

Pine straw, like mulch, can attract insects– some fans of pine straw complain that when they place it around their home, they notice an increase in the number of spiders that find their way inside. As far as your garden goes, some gardeners object to pine straw because it is acidic, and it can alter the ph level of your soil. This is not a problem for those with plants that prefer acidic soil, but if your favorite plants thrive in alkalinity, pine straw may not be the best choice for you.


Mulch is a very common choice. It performs its job well– it protects plants from the heat of the sun, prevents them from being damaged by heavy rains, and is probably the most cost-effective of our three options. It is also available in a variety of colors, so you’re sure to find one that matches your garden.

Mulch also has its cons, though. If it is spread too thickly, it can become home to insects, some of which can harm your plants. It also holds onto water, so that the ground around your plants stays wet long after the rain has stopped. To prevent these problems, make sure that your mulch is properly laid so that it does not create too thick of a layer.


Choosing rock instead of a more standard mulch or pine straw is an unusual but attractive option and has become trendy for its low maintenance. We like the river stones for their look and the smooth edges make blowing out leaves easier. The rocks will pull heat from the soil in the long days of summer, helping to regulate the temperature of the dirt around your plants. They, like mulch and needles are also a good way to prevent weeds from growing in your garden.

However, rocks can make it difficult for some plants to grow, as it can be harder than usual to water plants if they are surrounded by rocks. The rocks also do not decompose like ordinary mulch and can become caught in lawnmower blades, ultimately causing damage. It is important to confine the rocks to a definite area so that they do not end up scattered throughout your yard.

Whichever landscaping option you choose, pick the one that’s best for your yard. Do your research on what would benefit your plants and of course what you think looks best.

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