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Comparing Natural Mulch to Rubber, Pea Gravel, and Other Wichita, KS Landscaping Options

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Which is Right for Your Lawn and Garden? Meadowlark Can Help!

Mulch is ideal for helping to keep moisture in the soil of your landscape, suppressing weed growth, and controlling temperatures for your plants’ roots. And many homeowners choose mulch specifically to improve the curb appeal of their landscape plantings. Most commonly, you think of traditional mulch made of bark and wood chips. But today’s mulch is made of a variety of materials, all with their own unique pros and cons.

Mulch can be broken down into two main categories: organic mulch, which is made of material that occurs in nature, and inorganic mulch, a synthetic material. The type of mulch you choose depends on your goals for your Wichita, KS landscaping project. The team at Meadowlark Landscape and Design can help you determine which is best for your application, plus source and install it for you. Keep reading to learn more about the popular types of mulch and why you’ll want to use them or avoid them.

Consider Pea Gravel in Certain Landscaping Applications

A stone mulch like pea gravel is a long-lasting option that doesn’t need reapplication year after year. They work well at preventing weed growth and add an unexpected design element to your garden in terms of color and texture. Pea gravel and pebbles look especially great with more contemporary home architecture. If you’re going for the country cottage garden look, then you’ll want to pass on gravel. Pea gravel also has a tendency to be spread around the yard by kids or pets, which is another reason you may not want this option.

Try Large Stones for a Different Look

Add some visual interest to your landscaping with larger stones or boulders. Consider pumice stone, which contrasts nicely with greenery and dries quickly, preventing the growth of mold and other fungi. Large stones are more stable and less likely to move or erode. They take some serious muscle to install and can be more costly than other media. However, for ground cover on hilly terrain, large stones will stay in place better than smaller substrates.

Functional Mulch Ideas for your Wichita, KS Landscaping

If you need mulch for purely functional purposes, you probably already own a few options and don’t need a landscaping service to provide them. First, consider fallen autumn leaves. Shredding them to the right texture and size will help your plants grow and grow - but you’ll want to watch out for signs of disease or blight before using any ol’ leaves. You could also use grass clippings from your lawn, placing the greenest closest to the soil and the brown on top. However, avoid any clippings that have been previously treated with fertilizer or pesticides, because they can harm your landscape plants. And finally, shredded newspaper with black ink only is an inexpensive mulch that you can top with a thinner layer of a more aesthetically-pleasing mulch. Just avoid any color pages or inserts, which contain harmful dyes.

Using Natural Mulch in Your Landscape

Wood mulch is perhaps the most affordable option for landscaping substrate, costing as little as $2 per bag at your local garden store. Our landscaping company recommends natural wood mulch to 99 percent of our clients.

Natural mulch is highly preferred because the shredded cedar mats don’t blow away. They are less likely to wash away in the rain, and they prevent most weeds from popping through. Should one make it through the mulch barrier, the weed is much easier to pull up and remove. Cedar mulch is also a wonderful natural insect repellent and can be stirred up through the years to refresh the look.

Wood mulch does break down over time, but it contributes to the health of your soil as it does. This is a reasonable exchange for needing to reapply mulch every few years. Organic wood chip mulch can even encourage beneficial earthworms to take up residence in your landscape, which helps create healthy plants.

Why Our Landscaping Company Doesn’t Recommend Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch is about three times the cost of wood mulch, but it does deliver some big benefits in your Wichita landscaping. First, it’s heavy enough to stay in place in those high prairie winds. It also doesn’t need annual replacement like wood-based mulch does.

But here’s the part that’s tough to reconcile. Rubber mulch is made from recycled tires, and while some people say it helps to reduce your carbon footprint because it’s a repurposed material, tires can take between 50 and 80 years to decompose. Once it’s in your garden, it’s in your garden for good; if you remove it and dispose of it, it’ll still spend decades in a landfill.

Let Our Landscaping Services Take Care of Mulching for You

TheMeadowlark Landscape and Design team is experienced in determining the right type of mulch to use in your garden and flower beds. We’ll take into account the health of your soil, the drainage in and around your property, and your goals for your outdoor spaces when choosing and installing mulch.

Keep your lawn and landscape healthy by working with the Wichita, KS landscapers at Meadowlark. Contact us today to learn more.

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