18+ Best Landscaping Ideas With Mulch And Rocks

Last Updated on June 6, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

These two are very common landscaping elements and for all the good reasons. Aside from them being very cost-efficient, they are also low maintenance. And as far as design is concerned, mulch and rocks give the most natural look for any type of yard.

If you are into native landscaping or if you want more balance in your yard, here are some landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks for you to build on. 

18 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

best landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

1. Basalt rock mulch on a backyard landscape

1 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

This elevated property benefits well from the layer of basalt rock mulch and decorative vibe of the granite boulder. It is an edge landscape that brings out the landscaping difference between the lower deck and the elevated space. Plus the black color of the rock mulch makes the plants stand out more. 

2. Rock and straw mulch for an uneven ground

2 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

This one is a strategic combo especially for yards that are more exposed to the sun. The straw mulch keeps in the moisture and gives the illusion of an even ground.

The rock boulders, as well as the plants and shrubs scattered on the soil bed are also made prominent by the dark color of the straw mulch.

3. Native landscaping for a sloped yard

3 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

In case you have not noticed yet, rocks and mulches are the favorite combo for sloped yards.

In this idea, neutral tones of rocks and mulches are stacked and spread to make way for a tiered waterfall that falls to a small water pool. The rest of the space is then separated with bright grass turf

4. Succulent corner landscaping

4 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

If you are into low maintenance fence landscaping, you can count on a mid-western style composed only of a gravel and stone spread for the soil bed while the whole corner landscape is edged with rugged stone.

The assortment of cacti and other desert plants completed the ensemble. 

Related: 118+ Different Types Of Succulents With Names, Photos For Indoors and Outdoors (Succulent Identification)

5. Rock and mulch on two different sides

5 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

These two landscaping elements need not be together all the time. In this idea, the rocks are spread on one side to serve as the base of a water fountain.

On the other side, the red pine mulch with hedging and minimal greens offers a visual softness to the landscape and complements the turf grass well. 

6. Fieldstone and Hemlock mulch

6 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

This combination brings out a crossover of classic Japanese gardens but on a rustic backdrop. The fieldstones are arranged irregularly and with different colors to serve as the path walk.

To give a cohesive look for the sloped yard, Hemlock mulch is used for ground cover. This provides an extremely neat contrast not only for the fieldstone but also the surrounding grass area. 

7. Transitional backyard landscape

7 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

Nothing gets more seamless than this neat, contemporary transitional backyard. From the patio door, a spread of river rocks is used as ground cover for the seating, accentuated beautifully by the shade of a big tree.

Separating the seating would be wood chip mulch, adding warmth and coziness to the entire landscape. 

8. Cost-efficient water puddling solution

8 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

For problematic sloped yards that are prone to water puddling especially during the rainy season, using mixed mulches of wood chips and bark could be a cost-efficient choice.

Cedar mulch is used for the pathway to absorb more water and create efficient drainage. It is then bordered with bark and wood chip mulch and crushed gravel for contrast. 

9. Raised rock rain garden

9 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

If you want to veer away from the simple raised rain garden in the middle of a vast green landscape, break the monotony of the space by using a raised rock rain garden.

It is made entirely of river rocks, complemented with bigger rocks and boulders for texture and plants for a soft edge. The decorative elements also give a fine touch to the simple look. 

10. Corner firepit

10 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

Your sloped backyard should not only be about wanting to make it look even. You can take advantage of the slope to create another space for family and friends to convene like making a corner firepit.

The flooring is made of crushed gravel, enclosed with fieldstone seating. The rest of the area is softened by cedar mulch for a cushioned walking up to the fire pit. 

11. Leave the grass out

11 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

There really are some spots in the garden where the grass simply would not grow. Mostly, these would be around large trees.

To capitalize on this, you can set a rock garden where the trees are enclosed in raised rock planters. For a functional look, you can make a stone bench around like this one. 

12. Cabin look

12 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

If you are in a location where there is more moisture than sun, you have to separate the rocks and the mulch to spread the contrast. By the cabin’s corners, wood chip mulch is used for the flowering plants to enhance the woody look of the cabin.

At the other end of the paver walkway, an arrangement of river rocks and pea gravel along with more naturally scattered plants is laid out. 

13. Compact landscaping

13 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

Townhouses might not have enough space for an elaborate landscaping but that should not stop you from drawing inspiration from rocks and mulch.

This compact landscaping makes use of medium sized river rocks as its center. It separates two sides of mulch creating a geometric pattern that maximizes the landscape space. 

This is another compact landscaping for the front yard. The river rocks are used as edging for the raised garden covered with mulch. To provide more dynamics, a twisted pattern of river rock edging is installed at another end of the landscape. 

14. Rock and mulch border

14 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

If you have two-toned stone pavers for the home, you can separate them to give each the emphasis it needs.

In this idea, the rock and mulch combo are used as a transition border. Wood chips are used for mulching the border and it is enclosed with white quartz rock as enclosure. 

15. Replacing turf grass with rocks

15 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

To completely make a low maintenance landscaping, you can replace turf grass with rocks. In this case, small rocks are used to spread the entire yard.

There is a raised deck leading to the patio door and another one leading to the backdoor. The pathway is also raised with wooden steps

16. River rock planter

16 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

If you are not a big fan of mulching, you can innovate and make river rock planters to spread in a wide green turf.

This one made use of a galvanized steel frame and then filled with large river rocks. It is then topped with an assortment of hardy plants. It is an out of the box landscaping idea like no other. 

17. Zen rock garden

17 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

Having a zen rock garden never goes out of style. In this look, a courtyard-like space is entirely covered with crushed gravel. Mossy boulders are then placed for decorative purposes.

On the side, the graveled area is edged by mulch soil beds composed of shrubs and flowering plants. Even without the aid of water features expected from rock gardens, it still offers a serene look. 

18. Best of all worlds

18 landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks

Grass, mulch, and rocks, you can have them all in a seamless look. Building on a large tree as a focal point, this one features a twisty pattern of black mulch from the tree down to the center.

It is then divided into four spaces with white river rocks on one crossed space and of green turf on the other sides, running across. 


For more information about the pros and cons of mulch and rock in landscaping as well as working ideas of how much they would cost you, here are FAQs about these two that you should be aware of. 

Is mulch or rock better for landscaping?

This question leads to an entire landscaping debate so instead of a simple yes or no, here are the pros and cons of both mulch and rock for landscaping. 

ProsCheaper and lower maintenance.
Keep weeds off the yard longer. 
Does not burn. 
Resistant to wind. 
Perfect for rock and cacti gardens
Encourages plant growth. 
Supplies more nutrients requires less water.
Reduces soil compacting and erosion.
Stops weed growth. 
ConsDoes not benefit plants. 
Too hot which messes off the pH level of the soil. 
Manual removal. 
Not good for pruning and may encourage weed growth. 
Needs annual replacement.
Induces too early blooming.
May have weed seeds in them.

While rocks and mulch have their share of pros and cons, both are used in landscaping because of one prime function: they keep off the weeds from the yard and in a cost-efficient way, no less. 

What is the cheapest landscaping rock?

It would be crushed gravel costing just $75-100 per ton. It is followed by bull rock and river rock at $80-200. Landscape boulders are at $100-200 per ton but you would not need that much so you would not probably spend that much for a landscape boulder.

How do you separate rock and mulch?

Edging is probably the most common way to separate rock from mulch. Turf edging or stone and concrete edging is the go-to edging for rock and mulch. 


Mulch and rocks are not just cost-efficient for landscaping, but they also prove to be landscaping worthy for a range of designs. Beyond being versatile landscaping elements, they are also easy to maintain and bring a lot of texture to whatever landscaping idea. With all things considered, these two are solid landscaping elements that are worth every penny.