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mulch by foundation

Mulch Vs. Pebbles: Which is a Better Landscaping Option?

Mulch and pebbles both help keep moisture in the soil and add aesthetic appeal to your home. But which one offers more drainage benefits to protect your foundation?

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As the Fall rain showers slowly creep in, many homeowners’ attention naturally shifts to their landscape. Mulch and pebbles significantly improve the appearance, value, and appeal of your home. But when done properly and with some planning, landscaping around your foundation can help protect your investment. 

Before you apply mulch or pebbles onto your landscape, find out what’s the good and bad side of both materials. This will save you time and money, and prevent foundation damage, which could lead to costly repairs down the road. 

mulch by foundation


Mulch is popular with homeowners who wish to fertilize the soil for planting. This material includes tree barks, wood chips, lawn clippings, and debris, among other organic materials. Mulch retains a lot of moisture, which is beneficial to your plants and foundation in the summer months. It will also prevent the soil around your property from drying up and causing foundation settlement

Benefits of mulch 

Mulch serves several purposes, both functionally and aesthetically. 

Keeps the soil moist: Organic mulch material like chipped wood or nutshells contains water and also absorbs it much easier. They provide a great way to keep your flowers in bloom throughout summer. 

Less expensive up front: Mulch is a lot cheaper to install than pebbles. Just keep in mind that you may need to replace it more than once every year. 

Adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes: Mulch brings organic matter and nutrients to the soil when it decomposes. 

Disadvantages of mulch 

Although mulch around the foundation of your home may look appealing, it can cause some unexpected problems if not done with proper care. Wood mulch, for instance, can attract termites. Wood and other organic-based mulches hold in water, providing termites with great nesting grounds. The moist conditions of wood mulch also provide excellent breeding grounds for mold and other fungi. Mulch also needs replacement once or twice each year. Due to its lightweight nature, it can easily be washed away by heavy rains or wind. 

Pebbles for landscaping 

Pebbles are common in the hotter states like Kansas where grass is tough to maintain. They provide excellent ground cover. Pebbles come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the size of a pea to a golf ball. A layer that is two to three inches thick suffices, but putting too many pebbles can impede water’s movement. 


Rocks work best for homes with ponding issues as they facilitate water drainage. Weeds aren’t likely to grow on them when the cooler weather sets in.  

Drainage: Unlike mulch, pebbles do not absorb moisture, allowing water to drain away from your home’s foundation. They also reflect more sunlight than mulch and radiate the heat at night, which helps melt snow and ice more quickly. Pebbles around your foundation are safe as long as they do not impede water drainage or cause adjacent soil to get moist. 

Permanent: Pebbles are virtually indestructible. They won’t disintegrate, discolor, wash away, or fly with the wind. 

Less maintenance: With pebbles, you won’t have to worry about watering it, mowing, or replacing it. All you need to do is to shovel them in place and you are good to go. 

Decorative: Pebbles can also help you add a background contrast color to your flowers. 

Affordable: The upfront cost of buying pebbles shouldn’t blind you to the fact that they don’t need replacement once or twice a year like mulch. This makes the perfect choice for homeowners who want to reduce their landscaping costs. 


Unlike milch, pebbles are expensive to install, with costs ranging from $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot. They also require an edge barrier to keep the rocks out of your lawn and a weed barrier underneath the rocks.  

Pebbles or mulch? 

Ultimately, the choice of which material to use comes down to your landscaping needs and preference. Both materials have their benefits and can work well in promoting foundation and plant health. Just make sure your property has a positive grading (which slopes away from the house). Also, ensure your gutter system is clean and functional all year round. 

If you need help waterproofing your foundation, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Foundation Recovery Systems. We provide fast and free foundation repairs and quotes to homeowners across Kansas City, Missouri. 

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