The Q&A Archives: What should be planted when mulched with rock?

Question: I am a beginning gardener and have found your website to be very informative. Thank you! Rather than bark mulch, we plan to use rock in our beds. Can you please suggest some plants that will do well in these conditions?

Answer: Generally speaking, rock is not the best mulch so you might want to reconsider bark or another organic mulch. The organic mulches break down slowly over time to feed the soil (this helps reduce fertilizer needs and keeps the soil healthy), they also help keep down weeds, moderate the soil temperature, and help reduce watering. The rock mulch heats up excessively in both winter and summer and the reflected heat stresses your plants. It also does nothing to replenish the soil. And, weeds can still sprout in it. So overall it is not as good as an organic mulch. A few plants seem to enjoy a rock mulch, lavender is one.

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