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Can You Put River Rock Over Mulch? (Quick Answers)

Some gravels or river rocks can bring a great deal to your garden and your backyard. Mulches are also a good option too, but can you add river rocks over mulch? Let’s find out!

We will be discussing whether you remove mulch before putting rocks, how to put rocks for landscaping, whether you should use mulch or river rocks, and what to put under the stones!

Can you put river rock over mulch?

You can put river rocks over mulch. But, it is better to use rock mulch than bark mulch, as it will not decompose and grow on weed. Use weed barriers over the mulch, then apply stones for a better result. Gravels also serve as inorganic mulch that restricts weeds, insulate roots conserves moisture.


 Landscaping rocks are of different kinds and sizes, shapes. Many categories and subcategories of landscaping rocks can be perfect for your backyard, walk pavement, fountains, and others.

 Some of the widely known varieties are Mexican beach pebbles, river rocks, cobble, boulders, and flagstones. Landscape rocks are also a good candidate for flowing beds and water-related landscapes.

River rocks are on the section of the rock ground cover. These landscape rocks range from 1/8 to 3 inches, and the amount of cubic yards sells them. These are mostly used for covering larger areas with rocks and adding some texture.

One cubic yard of gravels would cover approximately 160sqft at 2″ deep, it might slightly differ according to the companies. 


Decorative stones or gravel play an essential role in accelerating the beauty of your garden, pave ways, patios, panted beds, and textured accents. The variety of rocks is immense in this section, starting from aggregates, pea gravel, river rocks, lava rocks, limestone, sandstone, etc.

River rocks are a versatile option. They are also more practical. They can be used to edge around flower beds, create beds, put over mulches, and also used to make a wall when needed. They bring a rustic, antique charm of nature to your backyard.

River rocks are also a great option to apply over mulch as they are not too big and do not have any artificial ingredients to create extra chaos. They are the perfect complimentary pal to bark mulches or rock mulches. 

Should you remove mulch before adding rock?

It is better to remove 1 or 2/3 inch mulch before adding the rocks to the mulch. You can directly put them. It should not cause many problems, but the placements of the gravels would be more firm if they were removed.

 It is also better to use weed barriers before applying the stones over the mulch as weed will grow out from bark mulch. Stone mulches are a bit more resistant, but it is better to use weed barriers.

 Even though after a while, weeds will grow out of the weed barriers through the mulch after a point, but in this way, they can be kept in for a more extended period of time than usual.

 Try to remove as many as old layers of mulch before applying, and it is best to have about 3 inches of mulch in the garden beds.

How deep should river rock be for landscaping?

About 2 inches will be adequate to use river rock for landscaping. But, if the gravels themselves are larger than 2 inches, then it would probably be just the size of the rocks, not helping the cause.

So, you’d have to dig a bit deeper. You can use about 3 to 8 inches. The depth really depends on the size of the rocks. If the rocks are about 3 to 8 inches, the depth should be about, or more than 3 to 8 inches deep, and 1 to 3 inches require about 1-3 inches depth.

But for screened gravel of 3/4 to 1 inch, 2 inches of depth is required, and 3/4 to 1/3 and 1/4 to 3/8 both require 2 inches of depth. These screened gravels cover about 100 to 140 square feet of area. 1 to 8 inches rock cover about 60- 80 square feet of area.

How do you place river rock for landscaping?

River rocks are an amazing idea for creating that extra bedazzle in your yard. They come in various shapes, sizes and are incredible for landscaping. We are providing an easy quick step by step guide to help you place river rocks for landscaping easily below –

Measure the area:

Measure the area carefully to get the right amount of river rocks for landscaping. In this way, you can avoid getting extra or fewer gravels and then having to hassle. 

Use an edger:

You can use a tool like an edger to produce a fence around the perimeter of your outline for landscaping. Use a hoe to remove the turf where your river rocks will lay. 

Dig the ground:

Dig the ground according to the measurement provided above for laying the river rocks. Mostly, the same amount of inches about the sizes of the stones.

Tamp down on the soil:

Before placing the rocks tamp down on the soil a bit. This will inhibit any other settings and you won’t have to add more gravels in the near future.

Use weed barrier:

Use some kind of weed barrier or even can use newspaper to stop weed growth. You can also use landscape fiber.

Use a rock rake:

After laying the rocks down, use a rock rake to even out the rocks over the mulch. Look for peaks and valleys and even all the places out.

Rinse out river rocks:

Rinse out your river rocks with water to clean them and get a fresh natural look.

These are some of the ways you could use river rocks to landscape perfectly and get the best outcome. 

How to mulch over rocks?

River rocks or landscaping rocks are versatile and flexible materials to put around in the yard with many benefits. But, they don’t put in many nutrients for the plants and are not a good heat absorbing agent.

Thus, you can choose wood mulch over river rocks as they are good at moisture retention, temperature moderation, and weed control. Wood mulch only comes in black, brown, and red colors, whereas landscape rocks come in various colors.

Wood mulch also needs to be changed every one to two years as they decompose. Putting mulch over rocks can be a good idea but a pretty tedious task with many steps. We are here to help you through a guide –

Choosing the right option:

When mulching over landscape rock, it is important to choose a mulch with smaller nuggets that include pieces of wood so that the mulch easily gets within the spaces where there was landscape rock before.

This will give full coverage for the spot and make it easier and time-efficient.

Removing weeds and debris:

You have to clean and pick out all the weeds and debris before putting it over the mulch.

Use rake and landscape fabric:

Landscape fabric will keep the mulch and the rocks separated from mixing together.

Put on the mulch:

After putting on the landscape fabric, put over the much for about 1 to 2 inches thick.

Even out:

Use a rake to even out, and mountains or valleys or piles make up in the area.

Should I use mulch or river rock?

Mulch and river rocks are both great options. River rocks could be a better option for their flexibility. Wood mulch, bark mulch work great, are good at decomposition, and put in great nutrients to the surrounding plants.

On the other hand, river rocks or landscaping rocks come in various shapes, sizes colors are very flexible in their work. Mulches don’t come in much color or ranges but only black, dark brown, or dark red.

River rocks also last longer than mulch as they decompose, and gravels also help in the weed barrier. Weeds grow out comparatively less when stones are being used. They also help with water flow ways more.

What do you put under river rocks?

Weed fabric barrier or landscape barrier is put under river rocks. Weed fabric barrier is a poly-woven fabric that is really strong.  It helps to prevent weeds from inhibiting and impeding by not breaking through the fibers but allows water to penetrate to its surface through the fabric.

Before putting river rocks over mulch. 1 or 2-inch mulch is taken out, and a weed barrier or landscape barrier is put in so that weeds don’t come out ever so often.  They allow water, oxygen, fertilizer to pass through.

Final Thoughts

River rocks are a great and versatile option to use over the mulch to landscape as they are good weed barriers, put on a natural sense of beauty in the backyard. Using river rocks, flame stone, limestones gravels, etc., over bark, wood, or stone mulch is way better for your backyard.