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ricksample 10-27-2010 05:26 AM

What to landscape large bed with? (mulch, stone, etc)
 
I'm drawing up my ideas for next springs planting. I currently use red mulch around my house in my beds which I love. The largest bed will be about 150' x 30 ' wide with mostly green giants, spruces, bushes, flowers, etc. I want either Red mulch or some kind of dark red gravel.

I have a few concerns with Red Mulch:

1. I'll need about 10-12 yards for startup, each year I'll probably have to toss about another yard on top of the old stuff to get it looking like new. My concern with this is whatever they use to get the red color is soaking into the soil. I'm not sure if that is bad or good... I'm thinking what it could do 30-40 years down the road. The good thing is once the plants get larger, the less and less mulch I'll need.

Gravel Concern:
1. The only concern I have with the decorative gravel is the cost. I was thinking it wouldn't cost anymore than the limestone I purchased last year ($20/ton). Depending on where I look I'm finding prices between $100-$200 per ton and I would need 20 tons. Do the math and that just isn't possible lol.

Which should I use and why? I know some people say to use pine needs, news papers and lot of other strange stuff. I don't really even like natural mulch.

moondawg 10-27-2010 01:53 PM

We did river rock which is pretty cheap compared to the more decorative stone. I wasn't real hot on the idea of having to spread more mulch every year. I've got an irrigation system ready to install in the spring, and hopefully after that I won't have much more landscaping to do.

You can see about 1/3 of the area at this link: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...&id=1611859414

I think it looks pretty good, and it really is very low maintenance. Mulch always looks like junk after 1 year, and this basically looks the same as it did when I put it down. Easy-peasy!

ricksample 10-28-2010 05:55 PM

That looks pretty good... if you don't mind me asking, how much is that usually a ton? Did they have anything around the same price a little darker in color?

The prices I found online for "decorative" stone was expensive. I haven't got any prices local as I don't really want to go into places without the intention on purchasing anything this year. I've seen some darker black/red mixes of "gravel" online that looked good, but didn't have any prices listed.

moondawg 10-29-2010 10:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ricksample (Post 524540)
That looks pretty good... if you don't mind me asking, how much is that usually a ton? Did they have anything around the same price a little darker in color?

The prices I found online for "decorative" stone was expensive. I haven't got any prices local as I don't really want to go into places without the intention on purchasing anything this year. I've seen some darker black/red mixes of "gravel" online that looked good, but didn't have any prices listed.

I believe this stone was about $35/ton delivered. 1 ton covered 130 sqft. (I believe that's at 2" thick) It seems like most of the other stone started at $75 and went up from there. There's a guy in our neighborhood that used peagravel... which is VERY cheap, and it looks decent.

I remember someone saying that the kind of stone we used is also commonly used for septic systems. Around here it's called "river rock." You may try contacting some septic contractors in your area and see what they use and where they get it.

ricksample 10-29-2010 05:27 PM

I'm definitely leaning towards the rock garden... it would me a little more expensive on the front end... but in the end it should be cheaper with not having to purchase 10 yards of mulch each year.

Plus if I use the larger rocks, I may not have to use any plastic lawn edging. I have to around the back of my house because the mulch is so light that with the mower it blows everywhere. I may be able to just dig a small trench and keep a nice clean curvy path with the gravel.

High Gear 10-29-2010 10:10 PM

I have river rock around the back and side of my house, delivered from a quarry just a couple miles away so pretty cheap per yard.

The larger size rock can be miserable to shovel , the quarry told me this and they

were exactly right so be aware.

I have both large and small river rock ( probably around 10 yds all together).

Mulch I hear ya as it seems I buy quite a bit of replacement mulch every year,

but mulch helps hold onto moisture and rock won't.

Full sun I do mulch , sun/shade rock.

ricksample 10-30-2010 06:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by High Gear (Post 525203)
I have river rock around the back and side of my house, delivered from a quarry just a couple miles away so pretty cheap per yard.

The larger size rock can be miserable to shovel , the quarry told me this and they

were exactly right so be aware.

I have both large and small river rock ( probably around 10 yds all together).

Mulch I hear ya as it seems I buy quite a bit of replacement mulch every year,

but mulch helps hold onto moisture and rock won't.

Full sun I do mulch , sun/shade rock.

I know... I took my cutout with about 5 tons of limestone out this past summer. I just picked the gravel up with the shovel and tossed it into the existing driveway. Took me hours and I was sore for about a week afterwords. I can only imagine trying to do a section that's around 175' x 30'. I actually still might (as a 1 time thing) put mulch around the base of each tree/plant, then over that put the gravel. So it still has a little mulch to help hold moisture and you won't see it because of the gravel.

Did you lay landscape fabric down before you did the rocks or not? I'm kind of debating on this. I don't want to put the gravel on thick so landscape fabric might help hold the weeds down better. However, if I put the fabric down it might allow the rocks to roll around since they won't be able to pack down into the dirt.

Any pics of your landscaping by the way? :thumbsup:

moondawg 10-30-2010 08:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ricksample (Post 525311)
I know... I took my cutout with about 5 tons of limestone out this past summer. I just picked the gravel up with the shovel and tossed it into the existing driveway. Took me hours and I was sore for about a week afterwords. I can only imagine trying to do a section that's around 175' x 30'. I actually still might (as a 1 time thing) put mulch around the base of each tree/plant, then over that put the gravel. So it still has a little mulch to help hold moisture and you won't see it because of the gravel.

Did you lay landscape fabric down before you did the rocks or not? I'm kind of debating on this. I don't want to put the gravel on thick so landscape fabric might help hold the weeds down better. However, if I put the fabric down it might allow the rocks to roll around since they won't be able to pack down into the dirt.

Any pics of your landscaping by the way? :thumbsup:

If you don't do landscaping fabric, you're going to have weeds-a-plenty. They can still pack down into the dirt pretty well, even with the landscape fabric. It works great.


I spread 7 tons of gravel total, almost all with a shovel and 5gallon bucket. It didn't take too long. Yeah, I was sore for a couple days. Was glad when it was done, tho!

ricksample 10-30-2010 10:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by moondawg (Post 525354)
If you don't do landscaping fabric, you're going to have weeds-a-plenty. They can still pack down into the dirt pretty well, even with the landscape fabric. It works great.


I spread 7 tons of gravel total, almost all with a shovel and 5gallon bucket. It didn't take too long. Yeah, I was sore for a couple days. Was glad when it was done, tho!

I'll definitely do the fabric. How do you guys keep your rock beds clean from leaves/needles/etc? I'll have mostly evergreens (green giants, bushes and maybe a few spruces). But I'm pretty sure that most evergreens will loose their leaves/needles after awhile. Plus I have a maple tree near by.

Also, should I edge this bed or just put the gravel on top of the grass? I might give it a little edge for starters to hold the gravel, but I'm not sure that I would want to edge the bed each year or if it will even need it. My mulch beds in front is held in by pavers and the rear mulch bed is held in by plastic edging.

moondawg 10-31-2010 06:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ricksample (Post 525389)
I'll definitely do the fabric. How do you guys keep your rock beds clean from leaves/needles/etc? I'll have mostly evergreens (green giants, bushes and maybe a few spruces). But I'm pretty sure that most evergreens will loose their leaves/needles after awhile. Plus I have a maple tree near by.

Also, should I edge this bed or just put the gravel on top of the grass? I might give it a little edge for starters to hold the gravel, but I'm not sure that I would want to edge the bed each year or if it will even need it. My mulch beds in front is held in by pavers and the rear mulch bed is held in by plastic edging.

I don't have any trees on my property so this isn't a huge issue for me. However with the heavier rock you should be able to use a blower if you have one. We're fairly windy here so mother nature does a pretty decent job of keeping my beds clean.

You'll definitely want to use some edging. Otherwise the grass will creep into your beds. I had to pull out my edging this spring because I didn't do it right the first time. I'm waiting(for several months now) for a few days of rain so that I can go back and redo it. I'll show you some pictures of what happens without the edging... it doesn't look good.

ricksample 10-31-2010 08:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by moondawg (Post 525967)
You'll definitely want to use some edging. Otherwise the grass will creep into your beds. I had to pull out my edging this spring because I didn't do it right the first time. I'm waiting(for several months now) for a few days of rain so that I can go back and redo it. I'll show you some pictures of what happens without the edging... it doesn't look good.

I was thinking about making a "V" type edge along the bed, then lay the landscape fabric on both sides of the "V" edge and fill with the gravel. This way grass won't be able to enter.

The problem I have with my plastic landscape edging in the back is that when grass grows it leans over and kind of sits down on the edging. So I have to take the weed eater over the edging each time. Not a huge deal at all... I just wanted to avoid doing that to a much larger bed.

I could have probably done the same thing in the bed I have around back, but the mulch is so light that the mower would have blown the mulch into the yard. So that's why I put the plastic edging down.

ricksample 11-04-2010 10:47 AM

I'm almost finished with my photoshop of how I'm going to start turning my backyard into a garden next year. It looks awesome... I'll post pics in a new thread in a day or two after completion.

Now I'll actually need 2 types of of cover (mulch, gravel, etc). One for the inner and one for the "outline" if you can call it that. The outline will be about 4 feet wide x the length of the bed. I'll then have flagstone leading from my back deck to this new huge bed. Once down at the bed I'll have a landscaping bridge you can use to walk over the outline layer. I'll then have more flagstone leading back out to my trails. The only way to the trails would be over the bridge and across the flagstone. On top of that I'll have a ton of plants and maybe a bench or two.

Kind of hard to explain until you see the pics... I'm still trying to decide on what to use for my 2 covers.

The outline I'm planning on using a colored mulch. The inner layer I was actually thinking of using dark bark mulch instead of rocks, but I'm not sure until I see it in person. I know that you will need to replace it every year like regular mulch. But on the upside I've read that it's very good for the plants/soil and it breaks down. My red mulch just grows nasty white roots. Once The 20 green giants and other bushes/flowers get larger, I shouldn't have to put to much bark or red mulch down because you will hardly see the covering anyhow.

Susan Schlenger 11-20-2010 11:51 PM

Mulch for Planting Beds
 
1 Attachment(s)
The purpose of a top dressing for planting beds is too conserve moisture and keep the weeds out, not to really stand out. Ideally over time, your plantings will take up the space in the beds and the topping won't really be seen at all.

I use hardwood shredded bark mulch for my projects. It is very natural looking, does what it is supposed and looks attractive. Apply it 3" thick and you won't have to re-apply it for another 2 or 3 years. Each spring, take a 3 pronged rake and fluff it up. This will refresh it and make it look like it was newly applied.

I don't like red mulch. It is very unnatural looking for a garden and any type of landscape. The plants are supposed to be what one sees in the landscape, not a red topping. The HSB mulch is dark brown.

jamiedolan 11-23-2010 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Susan Schlenger (Post 537868)
The purpose of a top dressing for planting beds is too conserve moisture and keep the weeds out, not to really stand out.

I use hardwood shredded bark mulch for my projects. It is very natural looking, does what it is supposed and looks attractive. Apply it 3" thick and you won't have to re-apply it for another 2 or 3 years.

This is correct. Much better to use mulch instead of rocks. Cedar bark mulch has a nice color, but does fade fairly quickly.

If you use landscape fabric, use the really expensive stuff or you will end up with aggressive weeds going right though it. Weeds can still grow in the stones or mulch and will need to be pulled by hand or sprayed.

Jamie

Susan Schlenger 11-24-2010 07:49 AM

Mulch and Landscape Fabric
 
I never really believed in landscape fabric under mulch. I say this because I always believed weed seeds can land in the mulch and grow there. When I bought my house I discovered fabric under the mulch. I think the amount of weeds I get are the same as a thick covering of mulch, which is actually there...three inches thick.

So I still believe that if you lay this amount of mulch in a bed, weeds will be kept to a minimum and fabric is not that helpful in keeping the weeds out. In addition, adding some Preen a few times during the season will keep your beds almost weed free.


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