Advice on combining landscaping rock with wood mulch

M VApril 11, 2014

My husband is renting equipment to dig around the front of our foundation tomorrow, as instructed by a structural engineer, before we purchased our home (the foundation has a crack). The engineer told us to dig down five feet out around the front left, when looking at the house. We are to then lay down rubber pond liner and top with landscaping rock. I had rock used a mulch. It looks so formal, and formal doesn't fit this house in my opinion. I usually prefer dark, wood mulch.
All the current bushes will be coming out and we will be starting over. How do you think it would look if we did landscaping rock five feet out, as instructed, with wood mulch in front? I think it would look more natural if reversed, but that isn't an option. I was thinking a larger type, variegated stone might look best. Maybe if I then "edged" with the same/similar colored stone in the front?

I prefer more natural looking landscaping. Any suggestions as to foundation plantings/bushes to start with?

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5 feet out comes to about the middle of what would be the root ball of those dead bushes...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:20PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I hope you fixed your crack! Do not plant anything with a serious root system close to your home!!

We remodeled my mother in law's home, and there were serious cracks in the slab and it was over $20,000 to fix them! We had to rip out the entire slab in 2 rooms, add rebar, re pour concrete........ Sigh. Not fun.

I like bark myself. If you have any little kids around, they will throw any rock type cover.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 8:14PM
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It is unclear what the digging objective is. You have a crack. You're digging down 5'. Then what? Something must be between that and covering with a pond liner. What is rock mulch going to do, specifically, other than hold down the pond liner?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 10:36PM
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Sorry - I was posting with little ones asking me questions. Sorry to be unclear. The pond liner isn't placed 5' deep, it will extend from the house, 5' out. The pond liner is to keep moisture from being able to get down to the crack, after grading away from the house. We are grading the bed, into a swale. My husband is also going to dig down all the way to the bottom of the crack and fill with crack repair cement. This is above and beyond the measures the engineer told us to take.

My main question is one of aesthetics - the enigineer wrote that we should cover the pond liner with stone. I think this has to just be to keep the liner down. I would rather cover it with mulch, but my dh wants to cover per instructions. He also doesn't like mulch as he says it has maintenance involved. As far as landscaping goes though, I would like to do more over the next few years than plant a few bushes and forget it. I don't like that stone will make it more difficult to divide plants or add things later. I also think it is a very formal look. I don't really like formal and don't think the house itself fits the formal mold. So, I was wondering how to best combine the rock in the back, with mulch in the front of the bed. Do you think this will look ok, or do I need to go one or the other? If it would look ok, what color/shape of rock would blend best?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 3:06PM
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I responded to this same post on the Perennials forum. My earlier thoughts have been confirmed by your clarification above.

I can't imagine that a layer of pond lining extended out 5' from the side of the house will have any significant bearing on the elimination of water penetration to the foundation or in correcting any other drainage issues. You need a second opinion. And from someone who does foundation/drainage work for a living. Typically this issue is approached by laying weeping tiles/French drains around the perimeter and sealing the foundation exterior.

Aesthetics should be taking a back seat at this point, instead focusing on the structural integrity of the home, which seems to be in question. And why are you having to do this and not the sellers of the property? It seems that this should be their liability to correct?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 4:27PM
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A surface layer of stone IS mulch, though not wood-based mulch. Though it, itself doesn't decompose, over time, the spaces between stone mulch fills with soil and other decomposed matter. So if stone is desired here because water can percolate (sideways) through it, that ability will be short lived. It doesn't matter if you use stone mulch or wood-based mulch. A fabric that is covered with 3" of wood-based mulch would be as difficult to pull up as would be one covered with stone. The main difference is that wood decomposes over time ... and turns into soil, which makes it compatible with most gardening and landscaping objectives. Stone mulch on the other hand does not decompose so when one later decides that it's no longer wanted (which eventually happens) it's a BIG job to get rid of it. It grows weeds as well as wood-based mulch. I consider it higher maintenance because the normal plant bits that settle on the surface of the ground can be incorporated or covered with wood mulch, but in a stone mulch bed, they look bad and must be more frequently removed.

Likewise, the pond liner seems like a half-baked get-me-by that will not fix the problem long term (if at all) but will be a gigantic impediment to planting.

The word formal in landscaping seems to connote a 'Victorian' era planting and arranging style, which is only one aspect of what the word could mean. There are many degrees of how highly organized a planting arrangement can be without engaging that look.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 9:53AM
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