the use of rocks and mulch in a succulent garden landscape

13 Fabulous Landscaping Ideas with Mulch and Rocks to Get Inspired

Mulch and rocks are two from so many types of material that many landscapers and homeowners choose to create a decorative look in home exterior design. The best thing about both of them is that they have the most realistic natural appearance that will always be perfect for any garden area.

Landscaping Ideas with Mulch and Rocks

Many of us are already familiar with the use of rocks in landscaping. From all the types available, we can say that some are more popular. Those include river rock, lava rock, crushed granite gravel, decomposed granite, and pea gravel. Other than those, some types of large boulders are well-known to create an accentuating point in the exterior design.

While many people are quite familiar with rocks for landscaping, many do not know about what mulch is. Do you know what it is?

In simple words, we can explain mulch as a layer made from a specific material and used to cover the soil surface. While serving a decorative look, it also gives some other benefits.

By adding a layer of mulch on the ground, you can keep the soil moisture. Besides, it is also proven helpful in improving both the health and fertility of the soil. Moreover, it can reduce and even avoid the growth of weed in the landscape.

If being asked about the base material of mulch, so many options are available. Those include organic residues (leaves, hay, straw, sawdust, grass clippings, etc.), compost, rubber, plastic, rock, and gravel.

With all the benefits and natural appearance offered, it is reasonable that many people are interested in using the combination of mulch and rock in their exterior design. Do you think the same way?

If yes, we have collected 13 fabulous landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks in this post. We also provide specific information in each design so later you can gain more inspiration to create your design. Keep reading to find them all out!

1. Basalt Rock Mulch and Granite Rock Boulder in a Contemporary Backyard Landscape

granite rock boulder and basalt rock mulch
granite rock boulder and basalt rock mulch. image ©

The first idea that we want you to take a look has basalt as the mulch and granite as the decorative boulder. The location of this landscape detail seems to be at an edge part that separates the upper level with the lower one.

An interesting thing that you must know is that when you choose to cover the soil surface with small rocks like this, you can prevent the growth of weed. It means the fabulous look can stay longer. Besides, it also means that you can do the landscape maintaining less often.

Another interesting detail you must know too is about the natural black color of basalt. It becomes such a good base that can make anything placed on the ground, including the plants, look more prominent.

Of course, it is also applicable for the granite boulders that become more visible because of the black basalt. This way, there is a bigger chance for the large rocks to become a more accentuating decoration in the garden landscaping.

2. Rock and Straw Mulch Combo

backyard landscaping with boulders and rock-straw mulch combo
backyard landscaping with boulders and rock-straw mulch combo. image ©

In covering the soil surface by using mulch, you can use more than just one material. The example is available in the picture above.

This image shows a backyard landscaping, in which a lot of large boulders exist in uneven ground. Other than those, there is also a rock and straw combination covering the ground.

We are not so sure about it, but it seems that the type of rock used for the mulch is basalt. The straw here looks quite similar to pine’s.

In a glance, the idea of adding the straw in the mulch composition gives an impact on how the ground looks more natural. However, you need to know that there is a more important benefit lies in it.

FYI, using rock as mulch can create a fabulous look. But, the material can reflect heat by nature.

can sometimes be problematic for some plant types.

The addition of the straw material here is something excellent. The reason is that it helps reduce the heat reflected by the rocks. The more straw used means, the more heat deducted.

3. Rocks and Mulch for Creating a Natural-Looking Waterfall

creating a waterfall on a slope with rocks and mulch
creating a waterfall on a slope with rocks and mulch. image ©

The use of rocks and mulch is beneficial too, when it comes to dealing with a slope. As you may already know, many homeowners find the hillside quite tricky and often end up not knowing what to do with it. In the end, they just leave it.

The fact that you need to know is that there is quite a lot of home stunning home exterior features you can build on the slope. The one you see in the picture is a natural-looking waterfall.

In this design, the boulders and the other rocks in various sizes play a role as the border of the water feature. They also cover the human-made waterfall leveling so that it is not visible to those who see it. Of course, those rocks also make the water feature looks so natural as if it is always there instead of being created by the designer.

On the other hand, the mulch also has an equally important role in this design. It is to cover the entire slope surface and to create a decorative yet natural appearance on it. Besides, it can also cover some parts of the ground that has an ugly appearance.

4. Simple yet Relaxing Landscape with Large Boulders and Mulch

a relaxing simple landscape with large boulders and mulch
a relaxing simple landscape with large boulders and mulch. image ©

You can also create a simple and relaxing landscape by using a combination of mulch and rocks. The example is available in the picture above.

Here, you can see that there are some boulders included in the garden design. However, it is evident that the most prominent is the largest one standing near the Japanese maple tree.

Another interesting detail of this midcentury landscape that you need to know is none other but the mulch. The type used here is called drain rocks with a small portion of straws on them.

The unique thing about this mulch type is its porous characteristic. It is not only excellent in providing good drainage that can prevent erosion on the soil. It is also an excellent choice of mulch because it can give the roots of every plant planted in the landscape from over-hydration.

5. Rocks and Mulch in a Succulent Garden

the use of rocks and mulch in a succulent garden landscape
the use of rocks and mulch in a succulent garden landscape. image ©

If you are living in an area with a dry climate, the succulent garden is an excellent choice to consider. In the landscape design, you can include rocks and mulch in the material choices.

Take a look at the idea above. It is a gorgeous garden with different types of succulent in it. Here, the soil has Californian gold decorative rocks as the mulch.

One of the best things about it is the natural gold color that also reminds of the desert. It also provides excellent contrast and radiance so that all the succulents planted in the garden gain prominence.

The same thing is also applicable to the larger decorative rocks placed in between the plants. It seems that the golden mulch here makes these natural-looking features catch more attention easier.

6. Traditional Landscape with Pine Needles Mulch and Custom Bluestone Stepping Stones

an amazing traditional landscape with real bluestone stepping stones and pine needles mulch
an amazing traditional landscape with real bluestone stepping stones and pine needles mulch. image ©

This next idea that we want you to take a look is just fabulous. In it, there are two primary inspirations that you must know.

The first is about the softened-edged stepping stones. They are from the real bluestone material that gets the random natural look from a cutting process by using a diamond saw.

This stepping stone choice blends perfectly with the traditional garden. Moreover, it can be an excellent pair to the subtle Japanese touch that the designer adds in the design.

The second inspiration comes from the use of pine needles as the mulch to cover the ground. For you to know, the species is Longleaf Pine.

This mulch choice like this is suitable for both a temporary and permanent soil cover. At a glance, you can see that it looks fluffy, so it creates a unique addition to the garden design.

Although so, you need to know that pine needle mulch is not merely about that. There are some interesting facts about it that you must know too.

Pine needle mulch is quite light and fluffy. It means it will be easy and quick for you to spread it on the ground.

Some people do not want to use pine needle as mulch because they worry that it will create a compact form once decomposed. The real fact is not like that.

The only thing that needs your concern is that the pine needle is naturally acidic. It means it can lower the soil’s pH.

In this case, you should be careful in planting plants that cannot deal with the acidic environment. To avoid some unwanted thing, before placing the pine needle mulch, you can first create a thin compost layer on the ground to buffer the acid level to change the soil pH.

7. Stone Water Fountain and Rock Mulch

stone water fountain with rock mulch on the ground
stone water fountain with rock mulch on the ground. image ©

In the image above, you can see a water fountain from rock traditional landscape design. The thing that is interesting from it is that there is no pond or another container that seems to collect the flowing water.

However, the design comes with rock mulch, and you need to know that it is an excellent one. We can say so because it is the type that can also function as a drainage system in a water fountain like this.

Another interesting detail that you can also find from this inspirational photo is about the use of another type of mulch for covering the ground surrounding the water fountain. It seems to prove that in one landscape area, you can use more than just a choice of soil covering at once.

It seems the mulch type you see here is compost. It does not only provide a beautiful and natural brownie surface but can also make the ground more fertile.

8. Stone on Stone Idea

rock stepping stones on stone mulch
rock stepping stones on stone mulch. image © Optimistic Landscaping

Here is another idea with the use of rock mulch in it. We can call this one as the stone and stone inspiration.

The reason why we said so is that in the idea, the real natural stepping stones are placed right on top of rock mulch. While the combination gives a fabulous look, there is something else that you must know about it too.

The use of rock mulch here helps keep each of the stepping stones in place. At the same time, it also creates a clearer pathway that can make the landscaping design even more enjoyable. It seems to create a clearer border between the way and the grassed area.

9. The Combination of Fieldstone and Hemlock Mulch in Landscaping

fieldstone and hemlock mulch combination
fieldstone and hemlock mulch combination. image ©

This example also contains another good idea for you to get inspired. It is the combination of fieldstone and hemlock mulch that can create a beautiful rustic view in the landscape.

The fieldstone appears in the design in the form of stepping stones. They give easier access from the house driveway to the patio area to the homeowners with a pleasant experience as the bonus.

On the ground, which has some issues with the elevation, there is hemlock mulch chosen for the covering. For you who are not familiar with the name, it is an organic choice made from a species of hardwood with the same name.

As shown in the picture above, this mulch type can create a quite contrast yet still natural look between the ground and the greens surrounding it. In this example, it even separates the slight slope with the grassy area.

Other than the look, hemlock mulch also gives other benefits. It helps the soil retention to water better, and it can also prevent the growth of weeds.

10. Wood Chips Mulch and Natural Stepping Stones in a Pathway Landscape

pathway landscape from wood chips mulch and stepping stones
pathway landscape from wood chips mulch and stepping stones. image ©

Here is another combination of rock and mulch to create a pathway. In this idea, the type of mulch used is wood chips, and the stepping stones seem to be from slabs of natural rocks that are cut irregularly, so each of them does not have the same shape.

When talking about the use of wood chips as mulch, many people worry that it will steal the nitrogen from the soil. While this thing may happen, here is the fact that you must know.

Nitrogen stealing happens only in the area where the wood chips are in contact with the soil directly. This type of mulch usually comes in the form of chunks, not sawdust, which is why the possibility for nitrogen stealing to happen is even lower. As shown in the picture above, most of the wood chip mulch covering only the pathway, and it is not in the soil but only on the surface.

Another thing that may need concern is the chemicals that are possibly in the wood material. It is a reason that makes this mulch type more suitable to use to cover the pathway ground instead of the flower/plant bed.

If you want to use the wood chips mulch as a flower bed, there is one thing that we suggest you do. It is to make sure that the material is organic and never been exposed to any chemicals previously.

11. Modern Pathway Landscape with Black Mulch and River Rocks

the use of black mulch and river rocks in a modern pathway landscape
the use of black mulch and river rocks in a modern pathway landscape. image ©

The use of rocks and mulch is also suitable for a modern landscape. The example is available in the picture above.

The modern style here is presented excellently from the clean lines in the pathway design. You can also see it in the choice of stepping stones that go to white rectangular concrete pads instead of natural slabs.

The pathway design also gets river rocks as a decoration that also creates a contrast look. In the surroundings, you can see black mulch covering the ground where the drought-tolerant plants grow.

Plants like this are usually quite low in maintenance. These are suitable to choose if you typically do not have much time to take care of your garden because of your busy routines.

12. Mulch and Rock Patio in a Transitional Backyard Landscape

transitional backyard landscape with brown mulch and rock patio
transitional backyard landscape with brown mulch and rock patio. image ©

Here is another inspirational design that we want you to take a look at. Particularly, please pay attention to the patio area shaded by a big and beautiful tree.

This outdoor feature in the transitional backyard is just inspiring. We can say so because the base material is river rocks that the designer arranged in such a way to create a kind of rounder floor for the patio. Then, a pair of black garden chairs added there to increase the comfort value.

Another idea is about the use of mulch covering almost all parts of the soil surface in the backyard. If we see the color and appearance, as well as the fact that some plants grow in the area, it seems the material is dried leaves.

Mulch like this gives an earthy brown color that can enhance the landscape. As you can see in the pic, it even has a quite similar tone with the pool deck.

At the same time, the mulch does not harm the soil. As a matter of fact, it makes the ground more fertile.

13. Rock and Mulch Decorations for Outdoor Staircase

contemporary staircase landscape with white rocks and dried leaves mulch
contemporary staircase landscape with white rocks and dried leaves mulch. image ©

The last but not least fabulous landscaping idea that we want you to take a look at is available in this picture of a contemporary outdoor staircase. Here, you can see that there are rocks and mulch included in the design.

Without the decorations, the outdoor staircase would be dull. That is why the addition of the two materials, as well as the plants in the surroundings, can create a more pleasant walking experience.

The use of white rocks here adds brighter to the entire design that has the domination of dark brown color. On the other hand, the brown dried leaves mulch creates a coordinating look on the ground that can also conceal the uneven tone of the soil surface.

14. Closing

From all the landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks that we shared with you in this post, you can see that the two materials are quite easy to use together. It is mainly because both are natural.

Other than that, because both of the rocks and mulch are available in a lot of types, there is quite a lot of landscaping design combinations that you can find. The 13 ideas you see here are just a few from many other available right now. FYI, the possibilities are endless.

The thing that we want you to give more concern to is the type of mulch that you will select. You must study the characteristics first to make sure that it is suitable for the landscape condition as well as the kind of plants that you want to include in the design.

Happy Landscaping!