Alternatives To Use Instead of Mulch

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Mulch has long been the ideal material to protect one’s plants and soil, but it may not be the right fit for a number of reasons. There are several alternatives to use instead of mulch, options that can be cheaper, better for the environment, or less likely to erode. Consider the characteristics of your yard and which option you can most benefit from, whether the advantage is financial, aesthetic, or practical.

Pea Gravel

Pea gravel is similar to regular gravel except that all the rocks are uniform in size, shape, and texture: they’re all small, round, and smooth. Pea gravel is often a popular choice due to its pleasing aesthetic quality and the fact that it doesn’t decompose like other alternatives to mulch.

However, because the gravel is small and round, it tends to roll away easily. This results in you having to occasionally refill the area with more gravel and collecting the pieces that scatter across your property.


There are a few reasons to choose straw over mulch, but the primary advantage the material offers—besides its abilities to suppress weed growth and retain moisture in the soil—is that it’s a far cheaper alternative. Straw provides the same results as mulch but for a much lesser expense.

As with pea gravel, you’ll need to maintain your straw, but the key difference between the two options is that straw decomposes over time. You’ll need to purchase new straw to replace the old when it deteriorates.


One of the most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives to mulch, repurposing leaves is a common method to insulate one’s plants. In order to utilize leaves properly, you’ll need to purchase a leaf mulcher to make the material suitable.

One of the most significant problems you may run into is the possibility of spreading infection among your plants. Leaves can contain diseases that may spread to your foliage if you’re not careful. Therefore, leaves can be an environmentally friendly and cheap method, but they can threaten your plants.

Your garden and yard can be delicate environments, making it essential that you know how to maintain them properly. Every material you use instead of mulch comes with its pros and cons, and knowing what you’re exposing your plants to will help you avoid any unnecessary harm.

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