How to Layer Mulch and Stones

By: Julie Day

“I have a small planting area with perennials that is currently mulched with ½” gravel. I would like to add regular insulating mulch under the stones. Should I remove the stones first? Or can I layer mulch and new stones on top of the old ones?” – Mrs. T

Generally speaking, most people use just one kind of mulch, so if they are using stones they wouldn’t add any other kind. The exception to this would be if you are in a very cold climate and need the insulating protection of organic mulch, or if you want the nutrients and other benefits of organic mulch but like the visual appeal of the stones.

In looking ahead, I think if you layer organic mulch, and more stone, on top of existing stone, you’ll eventually wish you hadn’t. That mulch is going to break down over time and mix with the buried stones, leaving you with a rocky, earthy mix that will frustrate you and your shovel next year when you decide to plant something new.

By keeping the stones only on top, you can rake them out of the way, plant a new perennial, and rake them neatly back into place.

For more information, see our article on Using Mulch in Your Garden.

Julie

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2 Comments on “How to Layer Mulch and Stones”

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  • Official Comment:


    Julie Day Says:
    February 5th, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Once upon a time, I shared my garden with four dogs. I tried various mulches and learned that when you have puppies, you’re simply going to have to mulch more often, because the mulch gets scattered and broken down much more quickly. Some tips:

    1. I’d go with something relatively inexpensive and easy to reapply. I’d also try a small area and see how your dog responds – some dogs like to roll or lie in mulch, or chew on it. You may need to experiment with different mulches to get the result you’re looking for.

    2. My dogs avoided walking on (or digging in) gravel, so that could be a good solution for flower beds but not for paths you WANT them to walk on. The same goes for pine bark.

    3. Their little paws broke down and scattered pine needles within days – I’d go with something tougher.

    4. Avoid cocoa bean mulch (it’s toxic to dogs!) or anything else you wouldn’t want your dog to eat. Some dog-owners recommend rubber mulch because it’s long-lasting, but I wouldn’t want my dog chewing on it.

    5. Look into training programs to teach your dog how to behave in the garden. With a little training, they can learn to respect boundaries (such as low green garden fencing) and to go to allowed areas for digging and “pottying”.

    Good luck!



  • RICHARD TERPENNING Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I HAVE A SMALL PLOT OF GRASS OF 420FT X 40FT THAT I WANT TO
    REPLACE WITH MULCH DUE TO A YEAR OLD PUPPY THT HAS DESTROYED
    THE LAWN. IS THERE A MULCH THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND FOR THIS PURPOSE.
    THANKS
    RICHARD


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