Think about what you want for your yard. Nice appearance, low maintenance, and calming environment top most lists. Most of us also view our yard as an investment in our homes. In fact, studies show that landscaping that costs as little as 5% of a home’s value can return as much as 150% when the home is sold.
You have many excellent choices when it comes to ground cover. Mulch, bark, and wood chips all provide benefits, such as protecting the soil and retaining water in plant beds. Likewise, unique benefits are obtained when using aggregate ground cover such as decorative rocks, pea gravel, and sea shells for landscaping. Here are five reasons to consider using aggregate ground cover for landscaping:
Aggregates Minimize Weeds and Pests
Unlike organic ground cover and ground cover plants, landscaping rocks, pea gravel, and landscaping shell provide a sparse environment for weeds and pests. Mulch not only provides food for your plants, but also provides food to weeds. Mulch also creates a rich ecosystem for insects, slugs, snails, and other pests.
However, unwanted yard guests, such as weeds and pests, will have a difficult time finding food in a bed of gravel or crushed shell ground covering. Moreover, when weeds do pop up in your aggregate ground cover, they will be easy to spot so you can pull them.
Aggregate Provides Good Drainage
Unlike organic ground cover which captures water and becomes saturated, aggregates will allow surface water to drain into the soil, thereby reducing surface puddles. When using sea shells for landscaping, for example, water can travel between the crushed shells and into the soil rather than puddling up. As long as the base below the soil has good drainage as well, such as by laying down a base of crushed concrete, water will pass through the soil and the base. This prevents the yard from becoming a muddy mess.
Aggregate Stays in Place
Aggregate provides a clean contemporary look to a yard or garden. It allows you to control where plants are, and where the ground cover is since aggregate is heavy enough to stay where you put it.
Moreover, aggregate is particularly good at preventing soil erosion. Organics, like bark and mulch can be washed away by a good rainstorm or blown away by a strong wind. When you use rocks, gravel, or sea shells for landscaping, they will tend to stay in place and are heavy enough to hold the underlying soil in place. Moreover, aggregate is less susceptible to trampling, which would kill live ground cover.
Aggregate Does Not Decompose
Using minerals, like rocks and gravel, guarantees that they will be there for a long time since they do not decompose. This is obviously a trade off because the decomposition of mulch does contribute nutrients to the soil. Rock and gravel will not provide nutrients the way mulch will.
Sea shells, however, do break down slowly over time. Using sea shells for landscaping will allow the minerals within the sea shells to join the soil. Sea shells are mostly made up of calcium carbonate, which contributes calcium to the soil when the sea shells break down. This provides the best of both worlds – shells take longer to break down than organic matter but eventually return some minerals to the soil unlike rocks and gravel.
Aggregates are Eco-friendly
Yes, gardening is mostly eco-friendly no matter what you do. However, there are two factors that make aggregate ground cover particularly eco-friendly.
- Unlike live ground cover, aggregate ground cover does not require water, fertilizer, or pesticides. While water supplies are not necessarily short in Florida, clean water is always better than water containing fertilizers or pesticides.
- Unlike organic material, aggregate ground cover does not need to be replaced or supplemented every year. Less frequent replacement means that aggregate ground cover is easier on your wallet and the environment.
Aggregate ground cover, such as rocks, gravel, and sea shells, provide unique benefits not found in mulch or live ground cover. Using rocks, gravel, and sea shells for landscaping between plant beds can reduce weeds and pests and provide good drainage of surface water. Moreover, since rocks, gravel, and sea shells do not decompose, do not wash away, and reduce soil erosion, they are an eco-friendly landscaping choice.