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Can You Put Gravel Around Trees? (Must Know Before Doing)

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Putting materials known as mulch around trees is a common gardening/landscape practice because of its advantages, especially in summer and spring.

Nevertheless, different types of mulches exist, and for this reason, people use different materials, including rocks or gravel.

However, it’s essential to know if it’s safe to use a particular mulch material around your trees. Hence, the question: can you put gravel around trees?

Yes, you can; it has more benefits for tree plants. Consequently, trees require moisture to grow and thrive, and gravel can retain some moisture, even though it hardly absorbs water. In addition, gravel retains the sun’s warmth that’s beneficial to trees; it’s best for aesthetics and has no side effects on most trees.

Is It Okay to Put Gravel Around the Base of a Tree? 

Can You Put Gravel Around Trees? (Must Know Before Doing)

Putting gravel around your tree base is okay, as it protects its roots. Also, if your purpose of putting gravel around a tree is for aesthetics, then it’s a good idea.

However, adding mulch materials to soils mainly protects them from excess sunlight and bad weather.

Before I explain more about using gravel as a mulch, let’s go back to the basics; what’s a mulch? Mulch is a material you can use to retain the soil’s moisture, keep roots safe and stop or reduce weed growth.

In addition, however, mulches sometimes add beauty to the tree and general surroundings.

Applying a good quantity of mulch around trees enhances root safety is correct because it suppresses weed growth.

But, at the same time, adding more to go more profound will be a problem for the tree, especially for most inorganic mulch materials, such as gravel. 

For other mulch materials, the depth ranges from one to four inches, while gravel should either be one or two inches.

Moreover, research explains that mulch depth promotes healthy soil, and a good depth results in good weed suppression.

Equally important, some gardeners add weed barriers when adding gravel around trees and other areas in their garden.

A weed barrier helps to aid the effectiveness of gravel by adding an extra blocking layer. The period you apply your mulch material also matters when planning to mulch.

Of course, it’s always ideal to do your mulching during summer and spring, but for gravel, autumn and summer are good periods.

Putting gravel around trees during autumn or summer helps protect the soil more.

During the autumn or bad weather, you need more potent protection against erosion and nutrient loss; here, gravel comes in strongly capable.

However, gravel is ideal for gardens or areas with low rainfall. Trees don’t usually require enough water in low rainfall areas, so using gravel in such areas is okay.

However, the type of tree you are using gravel as mulch will also determine if it’s okay.

Gravel or rock mulch is okay and better with trees that don’t require much water. We have trees like pines, oak, and cedar that accept gravel mulch.

Can You Put Pea Gravel Around a Tree?

Putting pea gravel around a tree is a good mulching or decorative choice. Even with the complex and far coverage of the tree’s roots, putting pea gravel around a tree will have no adverse effect.

Besides, pea gravel is a  good mulching alternative for trees with other benefits.

Gardeners and homeowners agree with the definition that explains that mulch materials are organic materials for covering the soil.

Therefore, People sometimes take most inorganic materials such as pea gravel as an alternative mulch material.

Notwithstanding, just as rocks and travels are beneficial, pea gravel is just another good option in its way.

Taking organic materials as mulch for your plants and trees also has disadvantages.

Unlike pea gravel, organic mulch materials gardeners or homeowners see as mulch materials decompose and will need replacement and maintenance.

Pea gravel is an option if you want water to pass through the mulch material around a tree. Pea gravel has a better water percolating system than most mulch materials, including big-sized gravel.

In addition, the small sizes allow water to slowly reach the ground, which is best for plant growth, making it a good option for mulch around trees.

Before you go putting materials like pea gravel around a tree, there are some things you should have in mind;

  • First, there should be a good depth for the pea gravel when applying it to the ground.
  • You should add a weed barrier before layering the gravel.
  • You should have edging materials to contain the pea gravel in one place.

Can Roots Grow Through Gravel?

Yes, roots can grow through gravel; it works the same way roots grow in rocky areas.

They can’t grow directly through the hard gravel, but they find their way around them to grow. Roots are strong; even though they can’t break through gravel, they can work in any material.

You may wonder, will adding a weed barrier/fabric before using gravel allow roots to grow? The answer is yes.

Although these barriers or fabrics suppress weed growth, these materials are porous, so they don’t block growth. 

No matter the barrier’s texture, it’s porous and will allow air and water to pass through.

The only problem with using gravel is that its space is almost locked to allow water to pass. So gravel can only slow down its growth but won’t stop it.

What Is the Best Thing to Put Around Trees?

Choosing the best thing to put around trees can confuse many different mulch materials.

For this reason, there are some things you need to know to help you decide the best. However, choosing the best mulch also depends on the type of tree. 

Also, there are different categories of mulch, which are organic and inorganic mulch, with their differences.

The two categories of mulch can help in any bad weather, but the purpose you want to use it for also matters. So, it falls back to you, what you want for the tree, and what it requires. 

First, the best thing to put around trees depends on what the particular tree needs. However, not all trees need a lot of moisture and water to survive because of their well-developed root system.

At the same time, trees such as new or still growing trees will need more water and moisture to thrive.

Secondly, the question depends on what you want for the tree, in other words, the purpose of putting material around trees.

If your goal is for the appearance of aesthetics, then you go for something more attractive to see.

Many inorganic materials with a good appearance,  like gravel or pea gravels, add beauty and extra protection.

 Lastly, your considerations determine the best things to put around a tree. So you have to decide what is best for you; below is a brief difference between organic and inorganic mulch.

Organic MulchInorganic Mulch
They are natural materials.They are synthetic.
They decompose and add nutrients to the soil.They don’t decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
They partially suppress weed growth. They entirely block weed growth.
They are not primarily aesthetic.They add aesthetics to the environment.

Another aspect to consider is the weather condition of a particular area. Aside from the weather condition to help choose the best material to put around trees, take note of the environment and plants.

Is It Okay to Put Rocks Around Palm Trees?

Yes, you can put rocks around the palm trees, and it won’t cause damage to the palm.

Using rocks around palm trees is best during the cold periods, like winter. It helps to create warmth for the soil and the roots.

However, palm trees have exposed root systems, which may affect the tree when facing sunlight or harsh weather.

So palm trees also need to retain their moisture, and you can use any mulching material or rocks for moisture retention and protection.

When palm trees have more exposed roots, it’s best to use more substantial moisture-retaining materials like rocks.

You can see putting mulch materials around trees as an essential part of gardening; yes, you are right. But it’s not as simple as you might see because not every material is beneficial.

And putting a material around a tree requires more consideration, planning, and the right way to apply it.

 So you need to know some things about these different mulch materials. In the table below, let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of using rocks and gravel.

AdvantagesDisadvantages 
It suppresses weed.It has low porous space to allow water to pass through.
It retains soil moisture and maintains the soil temperature.It’s not easy to remove after many years.
It Protects the weed from water and wind erosion.It doesn’t add nutrients to the soil because it doesn’t decompose.
It helps to preserve the soil during rainfall.Too much of it could slow down the growth of the roots.
It doesn’t require frequent replacement because it’s permanent.It’s not easy to use.

Conclusion

Gravel’s principal advantage over other mulch materials is that it preserves soil moisture for a long time.

Also, consider other plants you have around before putting material around trees. Trees and landscapes specialists are ready to help in your area, so you should get one.

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