Pros and Cons of Adding Landscape Gravel to Your Backyard Design

Hannah Mitchell

January 31, 2022

Landscape gravel can be a visually aesthetic and cohesive way to tie together your entire landscape design. The variety in texture enhances the landscape’s appeal, and there’s much to love about the low maintenance, low cost quality of gravel. But is it right for your yard? Find out more about this material to discover if it works in your backyard design.

Gravel landscape with small bushes

The Benefits of Ground Cover Rocks

Minimal Maintenance

Gravel doesn't require constant maintenance. It doesn't require any watering, saving you money, and also preventing water waste.  It doesn't require any fertilization or pesticides, preventing you from having to use harsh and sometimes costly chemicals in your yard.

While gravel ground covers may need periodic maintenance and "filling in", it's not intensive. It's easy on you, your wallet, and the planet.  To start the process of using gravel as inorganic ground cover, first ensure a healthy soil structure. Optionally, you can compact your backyard's dirt and lay down landscaping fabric (which prevents weeds!). Then you can add gravel or other rocks/stones. There are many choices for rock based ground covers, from river rock to natural stone to pea gravel to crushed stones.


Commonly used as ground cover, gravel can also be used as borders for plants or in garden beds. Stone based ground covers are the most easy and convenient option possible for your yard. Organic ground covers, such as cellulose containing mulches (wood chips, bark strips, bark chips), are prone to decay over time and require a bit more upkeep. But  gravel ground covers are very low maintenance, enhancing your outdoor space and diversifying your yard's aesthetic textures.



The hardiness and strength of gravel makes it an ideal option for resistance to wild weather. If there's one thing we know about Florida, it's that the weather constantly surprises us! From sudden storms and hurricanes to periods of extreme heat, gravel is tough and can handle a multitude of conditions. Organic mulch may get easily blown around and disheveled by heavier winds and rains, and a traditional grass lawn may get scorched in intense heat. The weight and sturdiness of gravel (as well as its lack of ability to wilt or die) makes it a reliable option for your Gainesville landscape.

Landscape Gravel Discourages Bugs

A common question is, does rock landscaping attract bugs? Such bug problems are actually more common with wood mulch, since bugs often can't find a place to live or get food amongst the volcanic rock or other landscaping rocks used in gravel. In fact, gravel discourages bugs, protecting your plants if you choose to surround them with gravel. This helps your plants grow strong, especially with the extra protection of landscape fabric under your gravel. In fact, gravel can even act as a weed control, if deep enough and with the help of the aforementioned landscape fabric.

Bug on a gravel landscape

Drawbacks to Ground Cover Rocks

Gravel Can Increase Heat

One downside of gravel is that the bright sun and warm climate leads to rocky exposed surfaces (AKA, rock ground cover) absorbing and retaining heat during the day, which can make your yard and house hot, or at least a bit warmer.

Gravel Can Sink Into Soil

Gravel doesn't decay like organic mulch, but it can still sink into the dirt-- and sink deep. This also produces rocky soil if you want to grow plants in the area later on. This can be prevented with, yet again, landscape fabric. The synthetic material will prevent rocks from sinking into the soil.

Gravel Can Get Pricey

Gravel isn't quite as cheap as organic ground covers, unfortunately. As of September 2021, gravel ranges between $10-$50 per ton, which is about $1350 per dump truckload. Depending on the size of your yard, the gravel of your choice may be pricier than you want.

Is it Better to Have Mulch or Rocks Around a House?

A gravel walkway

Mulch or rocks? It's hard to choose one over the other. Both are good examples of xeriscaping, a sustainable and attractive landscaping practice that is on the rise.

Some people may prefer the aesthetic look of one over the other. Some may enjoy the modern style that can be cultivated with rock based ground covers, while others may want a yard of all-natural materials, including living ground covers.  One consideration is that with organic mulch, such as wood chips, bark strips, and other types of wood mulch,  decaying organic matter often appears. Plant ground covers decompose eventually, so depending on your yard, you may end up in a cycle of constant replacing when it comes to mulch.

At the end of the day, it's up to you and your aesthetic, cost, and maintenance preferences. For more specific guidance on what ground cover would work best in your yard, from soil tests to plant analyzation, reach out to your friends at LawnMore for a helpful consultation to get you going in the ground cover process.

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