Organic Or Inorganic Mulch — Some Pros And Cons

Posted on: 29 August 2022

When you think of mulch, you probably picture what's actually known as organic mulch. This is an organic compound usually made of chipped wood debris. However, inorganic mulch consists of stones — such as river rock or gravel — and can serve many of the same functions as organic mulch. Which is right for your yard? Here are a few pros and cons of both.

Pros and Cons of Organic Mulch

One of the biggest upsides to organic, wood-based mulch is its low cost. You can find it just about anywhere and it's fairly inexpensive per yard. Furthermore, most homeowners can easily lay it out with minimal tools and assistance. And the thorough coverage of soil often helps crowd out any new weeds from growing. 

However, that simplicity comes at the cost of longevity. Wood mulch will start to fade in the sun and under exposure to the weather. It may run off during rain or snowfall, eventually needing regular replacement. Some insect species which thrive in moist, dark, and woody conditions may also find homes in your mulch. 

Pros and Cons of Inorganic Mulch

You'll spend more money and effort to put down a layer of river rock or gravel than simple wood chips. However, it lasts longer than organic materials. Those rocks might look exactly the same many years from now. So maintenance and replacement are lower over the long term. 

Rocks also help control erosion and drainage better than many types of wood mulch. Because larger river rocks are unlikely to shift or fade away, they're great for locations where you want to direct water away from something or where erosion is high. Some property owners also use rock in smaller or more delicate spaces where wood mulch would be too messy. 

The biggest drawback you may see from rock-based mulch is a lack of weed control. Without additional preparation of the soil below the rocks, there's room for weeds to grow through the rock. The rocks themselves may also absorb more natural heat from the sun, so check the needs of plants in the immediate area.

Where to Start

The best way to decide between organic and inorganic mulch is to learn more about them. Visit a rock and mulch supplier to learn more about river rock for landscaping or organic mulches. No matter which you choose, you're sure to have a more attractive, healthier, and more comfortable landscape in short order.