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Can You Put Stone Over Mulch? (How To)

Using landscaping stones in your garden improves its aesthetic appeal and moisture retention. It also helps keep weeds at bay, which benefits your existing plants. However, if you already have mulch, you may wonder whether to put a stone over it or remove it first.

You can put a stone over mulch to protect them from the elements and improve your garden’s visual appeal. If you have plants in the area, be sure not to lay the stones too close to the stem to avoid suffocating them. 

Stone on mulch with plans

Also, be sure to use a landscaping barrier to prevent the stones from penetrating the soil and avoid growth of weeds.

You will also need to use the right tools to achieve your project efficiently. Otherwise, you’ll find it extremely tiring to ferry and spread stones in your compound.

When the project is well done, the mulches underneath the stones will preserve moisture and avail nutrients to the plants as they decompose. On the other hand, the rocks will play a decorative role as they protect the mulch from the sun and other elements, so you won’t have to replace them frequently.

Keep reading to learn how to put stone over mulch, the problems to look out for, and the different tools you might need.

Should You Put Stone Over Mulch?

Stone on mulch with plans

The landscaping stones like river rocks, flagstones, and boulders come in different colors and shapes. They are very porous and ideal for giving your outdoor space texture and variety. But should you put them over mulch?

You should put stone over mulch to trap moisture for the benefit of the plants. However, it is essential to note that having too much water on the soil surface may suffocate the roots of some plants, causing their death. 

So, it is always good to test the soil drainage to ensure that you don’t risk killing your existing plants after covering the mulch.

To test, place stones over a small mulch area and sufficiently water that area. Then, time how long the watered area takes to dry out. 

What Tools Do You Need To Put Stone Over Mulch?

Tools for stone

Stones can get heavy. Honestly, they aren’t the easiest to ferry to your compound. In addition, they are cumbersome to haul from their heaped zone on your compound to the installation area. You need to work with the right tools to make things easier.  

Examples of the tools you need to put stone over mulch include a wheelbarrow, spade, steel rake, watering bucket/ water hose, weed killer, edging materials, and landscaping fabric. You will also need stones, the primary material for your project. Below is a detailed explanation of each.

Wheelbarrow: After heaping the garden stones on your compound in bulk, you will need to haul them to their right installation spot in the garden. A wheelbarrow will help you execute the task efficiently.

Spade: For loading the garden stones onto the wheelbarrow. A spade can also be handy when spreading the stones in the garden.

Steel rake: Ideal for raking excess mulch, unwanted stones, sticks, and other forms of debris from the mulched area before putting the stones on it. In addition, it works great in spreading the stones to even them out.

A watering bucket/ water hose: For watering the installation area during the drainage test

Weed killer: For killing unwanted weeds on the installation area

Landscaping garment: Prevents the growth of weeds as well as preventing the stones from going so deep into the soil

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on January 9, 2023.

Edgers: For holding the stones together to achieve clean, and crisp lines between the stoned area and other areas. 

What Preparations Do You Need To Put Stone Over Mulch?

Stone on mulch with plans

You must prepare the installation area before placing the stones to achieve the best landscaping results.

The main preparations you need to put a stone over mulch include:

  • Choosing your stones
  • Preparing the mulch
  • Testing the soil drainage
  • Killing weeds
  • Covering the mulch with landscaping fabric
  • Edging the installation area

I have detailed each of them in the following section.

Step 1: Choosing Your Stones

There are various stone options you can choose for your compound. These include:

Marble stones: The marble stones feature a calcium-magnesium carbonate as the main compound. They have a higher pH meaning you shouldn’t use them in plants that require a lower pH.

River rocks: Available in the river beds, river rocks have a smoother texture than other rocks. They come in multiple hues to give you a pretty garden.

Lava rocks: Feature actual lava from volcanoes. Their bold colors provide an accent to any yard design. It works best for drier areas as it absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night.

Pea gravel: Usually 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in size and comes in different colors like white, black, tan, and brown. It is ideal for covering driveways, filling spaces between stone pavers, and covering mulch to prevent weeds.

Step 2: Prepare The Mulch

If the layer of mulch in your garden is higher than 3 inches and you compress it with stones, it can create a waterproof coating that won’t allow for drainage. This layer may suffocate the plants in your compound in case of a heavy downpour. 

As such, it is always essential to reduce the layer of mulch into a smaller one. This should be an easy task using a rake.

Step 3: Test For Drainage

After reducing the layer of mulch, you want to confirm that the water drains by performing a drainage test. To test:

  • Identify a small area and cover it with stones like you’d like to cover the entire compound.  
  • Water it and then time how long the stoned area takes to dry out 
  • Proceed with your project if the water takes a day or two to dry completely

Step 4: Kill The Weeds

Spray a weed killer over the mulched area to kill any weeds present before covering the room with the landscape fabric

Step 5: Cover The Area With Landscape Fabric

Landscaping fabric prevents the growth of weeds while allowing for drainage. It also holds the stones in place while preventing them from penetrating deeper into the soil.

Step 6: Install The Edges

The edges, made from plastic, steel, or aluminum, will work with the landscaping fabric to hold the stones in place. They will also enhance the shape and depth of your outdoor space. Be sure to follow the installation instructions in the manufacturer’s manual.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on January 9, 2023.

Proceed to the final step, putting the stones over mulch.

How To Put Stone Over Mulch?

Confused woman standing

Now that you have prepared the installation area, the next step is to install the stones.

To put stones over mulch, pour the stones on the required area, then use a rake to spread the stones evenly on the surface. Leave at least 1/2 inch off the top edges so they won’t spill over during rain or when stepped on.

Note 1: As mentioned earlier, you’ll need a wheelbarrow to carry the stones to the required area. 

Note 2: Pouring the stones emphatically on the plants’ stems would destroy them. In addition, doing so would risk suffocation. Arrange the stones near the plants’ base to avoid crushing them, and give them some breathing space.

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on January 9, 2023.

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