Pros & Cons of Landscaping Ground Cover Rocks

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In landscaping, rock ground covers are an interesting choice that can provide a distinctive look for your yard. They conserve water and require less maintenance than grass-based yards. However, not everyone finds rock ground cover aesthetically pleasing, and the harder surface may limit the activities that can be performed on it.

Pro: Rock Cover

  • Rocks can serve as superb ground cover. They are visually interesting and provide texture to a landscape that might be flat and monotonous. Rock covers also lessen the amount of water used during hot months, conserving a valuable natural resource and reducing the consumer's water bill. The addition of rock near the foundation of a house can help stop erosion and reduce water damage to a home's foundation. From an economic standpoint, ground rocks do not have to be maintained in the way that a lawn of grass or turf does. Further, rocks can be used in any climate, unlike plants, which need certain atmospheric conditions to thrive properly. Finally, rock cover can help protect plant roots from the elements, encouraging plants to grow in poorer quality soil.

Con: Rock Cover

  • Rock ground covers have some negative qualities. There is specific maintenance that has to be performed with ground cover rocks, such as removing weeds that may grow in between rocks. Further, it may be necessary to remove moss that may grow on the larger rocks if the rock ground cover is located in moist, shaded areas. In a rock yard, rocks replace grass as the predominant ground cover, making the area less hospitable for outdoor recreational activities. Additionally, rock ground cover may not be the best solution for small children who may get injured on the hard rocks. To mitigate this problem, families with children should use rocks with a smaller overall size, such as pea granite or river rock, while avoiding larger rocks that may make for more unsteady walking and movement, such as 2-inch Texas black and concho stones. Smaller stones may wash away in rain, causing waste and the need for replacement. Lastly, rock ground covers have a high initial investment, with roughly 1 ton of loose granite (or other stone) covering approximately 1 square yard.

Other Considerations

  • The addition of a rock ground cover to your landscaping may have some real estate repercussions. For instance, local codes or neighborhood associations may regulate the use of rock in ground coverings. Also, rock ground covers could affect the overall value of the property. Check with a local real estate agent to see if these are concerns for your area. Also, keep in mind that rock cover does not have to be used universally in a lawn area. Instead, it can be mixed with plants, trees and grasses if desired. River rock is perhaps the most common ground rock cover. However, the color of river rock may vary from place to place, ranging from gray to black to white. If you choose river rock, make sure that the color of local river rock is complementary to the design plan for your exterior spaces.

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