The 3 Best Mulch Alternatives for Commercial Property Planting Beds

Don’t get us wrong — we love mulch. We can give you a whole list of the great things about mulch.

In fact, here it is:

  • Mulch helps your soil retain moisture, keeping your plants happy without a lot of watering.
  • It keeps weeds from sprouting as easily as they do in bare soil, by blocking the sunlight they need to sprout.
  • It prevents rain from washing away your previous landscape soil.
  • A fresh layer of rich, brown mulch makes everything look crisp and well-tended.

But sometimes, a different material might work better on your commercial property.

Maybe you have drainage issues. Maybe your turf is receding but you still want something green and appealing there.

Maybe you don’t want the expense of replacing your mulch every spring. (Mulch fades and breaks down over time, so you’ll need to replace it every spring.)

Need some mulch alternatives? Here you go:

Mulch Alternatives for Commercial Properties

Tiny gravel, sturdy stone, fragrant flowers, silvery foliage — there are plenty of mulch alternatives for commercial property landscaping.

1. Landscaping Stone

Stone is more expensive than mulch, but it lasts longer. It doesn’t break down into the soil like mulch does. So, you don’t have to refresh it as often.

That means you can actually save money over time, even though the initial cost is higher.
Selection of stones used in construction
If you think all stone is basically the same, you'll be amazed at the choices. It can be small, like pea-sized gravel, or as big as baseballs.

It comes in porous, lightweight black lava rock, or shiny quartz pebbles in pretty pink, and lots of choices in-between.

We love Colorado River Rock Blend, a super cool mix of blues, grays, purples, and whites that goes with just about anything.

Going for gravel? Washed river gravel, Brazos river rock, quarried directly from the Brazos River here in Texas, or black star gravel are all good choices.

When to Use Landscaping Stone as a Mulch Alternative?

  • Does your property have drainage issues? Stone will help water drain quickly.
  • Do you have open areas where nothing seems to grow? Stone can fill a bed and make it look attractive, even without plants.
Stone along a pool

Where to Skip the Landscaping Stone

Stone can be a great mulch alternative for commercial properties, but it doesn’t work great everywhere. Avoid using stone in these areas:

  • Next to parking lots. Kids can pick them up and throw them at cars.
  • Same for an HOA pool. Kids love to toss them in and watch the splash.
  • Next to windows, especially the ground-level windows of an apartment building, unless there’s a barrier in-between. You don’t want landscaping crews’ trimmers to hurl them into windows.
  • In heavy foot traffic areas, like at a retail center, where the constant pressure will shove the rocks down into the dirt.

Pro tip: use a layer of erosion control fabric between the soil and mulch or stone — mostly to keep the dirt from mixing into the decorative stone. There’s no guarantee it will keep out weeds.Landscaping crew installing stone on top of erosion control fabric

When Bigger Stones Are a Better Mulch Alternative

If there are trees that drop debris over the area where you’ll put mulch or stone, opt for larger-sized stones, at least one inch in diameter.

While debris easily gets stuck in smaller gravel, landscaping crews can blow debris out of larger-sized stone.

2. A Fragrant Green Mulch Alternative: Asiatic Jasmine

Sometimes the best mulch alternative for commercial property landscaping is a green, growing groundcover.

Asiatic jasmine, also called star jasmine, is a fast spreading, hardy groundcover with fragrant flowers, low maintenance requirements, and dense, trailing foliage.
Asiatic Jasmine
Expect it to spread 3 to 6 feet.

Bonus: it’s a great climber, too, if you want a beautiful plant to grow on a trellis or post.

3. Silver Ponyfoot

This attractive Texas native is a great drought-tolerant groundcover.

Evergreen, disease and pest resistant, it thrives in both full sun and part shade.

It forms a dense, silvery mat up to 30 inches across that’s great for erosion control.
Silver Ponyfoot - Dichondra
It’s typically treated as an annual, because it isn’t winter hardy.

Bonus: It also looks great in pots, with its silvery foliage spilling over the sides.

Best Alternatives to Mulch? Trust North by Northwest

Not sure if your commercial property is meant for mulch, good for groundcover or super for stone?

Let us help.

We’re happy to steer you to the choice that best fits your unique commercial property and budget.

Without some type of landscaping material, your beds will sprout weeds and lack the polished, tidy look you need to attract customers, tenants, and buyers.

We’d love to partner with you to make your commercial landscaping impressive and your job hassle-free.

Are you ready for stress-free landscaping in Austin, TX? Schedule a time to meet with one of our commercial landscaping experts today. We’ll gather the details, create a customized plan just for you, and you can stop stressing as we improve and beautify your commercial property.

Request a Consultation

Image Source: Asiatic Jasmine, Silver Ponyfoot