I have installed a lot of landscaping rocks and rock flower beds over the years, especially in areas that frequently experience water shortages. One question I’m often asked is about the issue of bugs under the rocks. So, can landscaping rocks attract bugs?
Landscaping rocks can attract bugs because they create a dark and damp space that is attractive to some pests. However, rocks cause fewer bugs than alternative landscaping choices, such as mulch.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain how landscaping rocks attract bugs. I’ll also discuss the pros and cons of landscaping rocks in your yard. Finally, I’ll compare rocks and mulch to help you determine which is better for your yard.
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How Landscaping Rocks Attract Bugs
In the introduction, I explained that landscaping rocks can cause bugs because they are attracted to the dark and damp spaces they create. I also mentioned that rocks attract fewer bugs than other landscaping options, like mulch.
Some bugs, including termites, like dark and damp areas and large landscaping rocks can easily create that environment. Additionally, rocks readily absorb solar energy, and ants use this to keep their larvae safe and warm underground.
Luckily, there are various ways to make your rocks less attractive to bugs:
- Remove weeds and moss.
- Grow insect-repelling plants, such as basil or lavender near the rocks.
- Place a layer of membrane underneath the rocks to prevent bugs from tunneling.
- Remove any ground-crawling plants from your yard and from around the rocks.
- Reduce moisture by placing the rocks at an angle that slopes down and away from your house.
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Although landscaping rocks can occasionally attract bugs, they are less attractive to bugs than other landscaping materials, such as mulch. I’ll discuss this in further detail later in the article.
Pros and Cons of Landscaping Rocks
Bugs aren’t the only consideration if you’re contemplating putting landscaping rocks in your yard. Here are some pros and cons of landscaping rocks:
Landscaping rocks offer several benefits to your landscaping project, including the following:
- They don’t need to be replaced. Unless you want to change the look of your yard, you most likely won’t need to replace your landscaping rocks because they don’t decompose. This saves you effort and money.
- Rock is durable. Other landscaping options can get trampled or compacted and killed by any foot traffic created by humans or pets. Rocks, however, can withstand this foot traffic, and you can even drive over landscaping rocks.
- Rock is less work than other ground covers. Grass requires constant maintenance, including fertilizing, watering, and mowing. Mulch, an alternative ground cover, must be replaced regularly and weeded. Compared to these alternatives, rock is much easier to maintain.
Working with rocks does have its downsides, such as:
- They can cause injuries or damage. If you mow your lawn around landscape rocks, you risk the mower picking up a rock and flinging it at high speed. This rock could hit someone or your house, causing serious injury or damage.
- Rocks sink into the soil. If you have a lot of foot traffic in your yard, the rocks can start to sink into the soil, which could damage the structure of the soil and therefore influence its health.
- Rocks don’t add nutrients to the soil. Other ground covers decompose and add nutrients to the soil, including nitrogen and phosphorus. Rocks don’t decompose and do nothing to improve the soil.
When deciding whether to include landscaping rocks in your yard, it is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of doing so before you make your decision.
Which Is Better: Rocks or Mulch?
People are often torn between using rocks or mulch in their yard. Let’s compare the two:
Reasons To Use Rocks
There are various reasons that rocks are the number one choice for landscaping:
- Rocks attract fewer bugs than mulch. While rocks attract some bugs, they are far less than the number of pests drawn to decomposing organic material, such as mulch.
- Rocks don’t need to be replaced often. Mulch must be replaced every one to four years, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Unless you have extremely high foot traffic in your yard, you likely won’t ever need to replace your landscaping rocks.
- Rocks are flame resistant. If you live in an area that has frequent wildfires, you might consider using landscaping rocks instead of mulch. Rocks are non-flammable, so they’ll help protect your property.
- Adding too much mulch can stress plants. If you add the incorrect amount of mulch to your soil, you risk stressing your plants and causing them not to grow.
- Rocks prevent soil erosion in windy areas. If you live in a windy climate, you risk heavy soil erosion. Fortunately, heavy rocks are great at preventing this issue.
Reasons To Use Mulch
Use mulch if you think these reasons are more towards your leaning:
- Mulch is better for plant and tree growth. Mulching can nearly double the rate at which plants grow. In fact, hardwood trees, such as oak and maple, grow 79% faster with mulch than they do without (source).
- Mulch reduces weeds. Mulch prevents weeds from germinating because it decreases the amount of sunlight available to weeds. This can result in a reduction in weed growth by 45%!
- Mulch adds nutrients to the soil. As the mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Mulch reduces water evaporation. Because mulch blocks water evaporation, you won’t need to water your plants as often. This saves you time, energy, and money!
For more information, see 14 Common Mulch Questions (Answered).
Landscaping rocks are an interesting and beneficial choice for your yard design.
Yes, they can attract bugs because they create a dark and damp space that some bugs enjoy. However, they attract fewer bugs than mulch.
Ultimately, whether or not landscaping rocks are right for you depends on your personal preference and where you live.
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