Detailed Analysis For the Answer, Will Rocks Around a Tree Kill It?

Will Rocks Around a Tree Kill It

Are you using rocks around your tree? You may do it to protect your tree from weeds or for decorative purposes, but the question is, have you consulted with some experts that you are going the right way and not killing your tree?

 If not, follow me till the end to find the answer; Will rocks around a tree kill it?

Many people know that using rocks around can harm the tree, but still, they practice it. Here I have found some reasons for this bad practice after doing detailed research about it.

Why Using Rocks  Around the Tree is So Common Despite Its Harm to the Tree?

  • Using rocks is alluring for most people because they give the scene a natural and elegant look.
  • The rocks use lesser water than any of the mulch around the tree because they don’t absorb the water.
  • You don’t need to re-apply the rocks because they don’t decompose, so, are cost-effective.
  • They are not vulnerable to fire and can be a good choice where there is a fire nearby.
  • Rocks have been proving best to stop the growth of grass.

But what are the use of all the benefits when the tree itself dies and the only thing left are stones? Yes! The rocks can kill the tree. But how? Here are some of the reasons that rocks are death to the tree.

The Answer to the Question – Will Rocks Around a Tree Kill It?

Gravel Can not Add Nutrients to Soil.

The rocks don’t decompose to add nutrients to the soil as the other mulches do. Neither do they have that nutrient power in them that is necessary for the growth of a tree. So the lack of essential nutrition may lead the tree to unhealthy growth or death.

If you are not using organic mulch and are going with rocks, you may have the option to add the nutrients yourself to the soil for healthy growth, but that will add to your budget and give results after a long time.

Cause Lack of Oxygen

Oxygen is an essential part of tree growth. The rocks cause the soil to lack oxygen, which may lead to several problems in plant development. Lack of oxygen can cause the roots to die, thus results in the death of the tree.

It affects respiration which is the source of energy for the tree. If the tree doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can not take vitality from the food, which the tree has produced in the process of photosynthesis. At night the problem worsens when the tree can’t use the oxygen produced during photosynthesis.

Less Water Retention

The lack of water is one of those reasons that can kill a tree. So, while discussing the matter that, will the rock around the tree can kill it? As the gravel can’t absorb the water, there is little or no retention for the tree, which can cause death to the tree.

Secondly, the rocks may gather the water around them, which may cause death for the tree by creating high temperature and can become the reason to suffocate the tree.

The rocks absorb heat and accelerate evaporation which results in water loss. It can kill the tree in the end.

Cause to Irregulate the Soil Temperature

The rocks tend to get cold or hot abruptly, so, can bring temperature fluctuations for the tree, which ultimately can cause a danger to the tree. This danger is more likely to be drastic when the season is hot; the tree may be died of an overheated environment or because of dehydration because high temperatures cause a higher rate of evaporation.

Unsuited PH Level for Trees

A suitable level of ph can change the growth of the tree. Most of the trees grow well in acidic soil, which has a ph level of less than 7, but the rocks tend to increase the ph by more than 7, which makes the soil alkaline and unsuitable for the growth of trees.

A lot of nutrients can not withstand a ph level higher than 7. So acidic soil is the best for the ideal growth of the trees. But the rocks make the soil alkaline which brings potential danger for the life of the tree.

After reading all this, you may have the answer to the question, will rocks around a tree kill it?

So if rocks can cause such harm to the tree, be quick and replace it with some other alternative.

What are the Replacements of Rocks to Use Around the Tree to Avoid Damage?

There are options available to use in the place of rocks to cover the soil around the tree. The fact is that these alternatives not only make the ground look beautiful but also benefit the tree in multiple aspects.

Mulch the Tree with Some Plant Product

While mulching the tree with rocks can put it to potential danger, you can go the other way by choosing some organic mulch that you get from plants to spread around the trees. Varieties of mulch are available that are parts of plants; some of the most widely used mulches are hay, pine needles, crushed bark, dry grass, dry leaves, etc. Organic mulch has multiple benefits given below:

Using parts of plants as mulch is a popular way of helping the soil get the essential nutrients for the tree. The process of decomposition adds all the nutrients of the mulch to the earth.  As the mulch is organic, so it is rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, aluminum, and others, more or less in a healthy amount.

This mulch plays a vital role in saving the tree from harsh weather conditions. Either it is cold or hot, it regulates the temperature of the earth to a moderate level to avoid any damage to the tree. It retains the moisture in the soil, which helps the tree grow well.

In this way, by getting all these benefits, you can avoid the damages caused by gravel when you replace it with a mulch that you get from plants to save your tree from death.

Animal Compost

The other option to replace rocks around the tree is to use animal compost, which contains high nutrition. The compost adds nutrients to the soil and improves the composition of your soil.

You don’t need to dry the animal compost as is the case with the mulches, a little moisture in it is good enough to make the tree happy.

Containing the high amount of essential nutrients for the trees to grow, you don’t need to add extra fertilizers to your soil, making your tree production less costly.

Cocoa Bean Hull

The cocoa bean hull is the outer shell of the cocoa bean. You can get it as a by-product when you roast the cocoa beans. It is a type of organic mulch and is a highly nutritious mulch to use around the tree. There is a good amount of nitrogen, potash as well as phosphate in the cocoa shells. These nutrients are vital for the tree, which gives a boost to the health of the tree.

It makes the soil slightly acidic, which is very favorable for growing the trees. Cocoa beans mulch decomposes very slowly, so you don’t need to replace it again and again while fortifying the soil slowly.

Most of the insects and deer as well don’t like the smell of cocoa shells, so they stay away from the trees and don’t harm them.

Landscape Fabric

Another useful though the less popular way of replacing the rocks is the use of landscape fabric. It is a good choice when your soil is highly nutritious, and the purpose is to avoid the growth of weeds because it doesn’t add nutrition to the earth.

But you can still use the fabric if your soil needs extra nutrition by adding with some other mulch.

So until now, we have discussed how we can save our tree from the danger that rocks can cause. Now is the time to clarify some misconceptions.

Is using organic mulch economical compared to rocks, or add a burden to the budget?

Perhaps the most surprising thing to discuss is that, along with other demerits rock mulch has, it is much expensive than any organic mulch.

It further worsens the situation when you need more water and fertilizers for better growth of the tree. On the other hand, organic mulch lowers your budget by retaining the moisture for longer and provide additional nutrition to your soil.

Is mulching with some organic material can be laborious than using rocks?

The rocks do not need to re-apply because they do not decompose. But the organic mulch needs to re-apply after two to three years, so you may feel it laborious, but it is not in the real sense because of its countless benefits for the trees. The time duration depends upon the type of mulch you are using. But there is no reason to take pain for that if you want your tree to grow well.


Now it is time to decide the right mulch for your tree and to take action by replacing those beautiful pebbles around your tree that may cause to kill your tree with some beneficial mulch.