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Beach Pebbles - Burlap
Category Landscape Rock
You’re thrilled with the decorative rocks you chose for your landscape project! You love their dazzling patterns and striking hues. Still, you need a base material to hinder weeds from growing around the stones and overtaking them. While you can use landscape fabric, it has some drawbacks. Here are five ecological options that will showcase the beauty of your decorative stones, whether you’re using white pebbles, gold river rock, or Mexican gray pebbles. 

Pine Leaves

The russet tones of pine needles highlight the colors and markings in decorative rocks such as polished black pebbles. Landscaping with pine straw provides a contrast with your stones, enhancing their bold character. Since pine straw doesn’t change soil pH, it’s safe to use around plants, shrubs, and trees.

Pine needles also improve soil health. As they decompose, they impart organic matter to soil, enriching it. Meanwhile, pine straw holds water better than landscape fabric, reducing moisture evaporation. Furthermore, pine needles curb soil erosion.

For the best results, apply a layer of the straw 2 or 3 inches thick beneath your stones. Although some weeds may poke through the mulch, they’re easily removed. That’s because pine straw softens the underlying soil.

If you don’t have pine trees on your property, you can buy the straw from a tree-trimming company. Generally, pine needles are inexpensive. Since they degrade relatively fast, you’ll need to replenish them every year or two.


Another option is newspaper, which is also safe for plants. These days, newsprint is made of soy-based ink. Newspaper lets water and oxygen penetrate soil. Meanwhile, it fends off weeds by thwarting their access to sunlight. As the newspaper decays, the organic matter nourishes soil.

Before installing newspaper, remove any glossy flyers, coupons, or advertisements. Their slick surfaces impede water flow, making it puddle. Moreover, the dyes and other chemicals in glossy paper are harmful to soil and plants.

To block sunlight effectively, lay down four sheets of newspaper in single layers. If you fold the papers, air pockets can form between them, encouraging weed seeds to sprout. Then water the paper lightly to help the layers adhere to each other. Next, cover with your decorative rocks. As a weed barrier, newspaper lasts for one season.


Like landscape fabric, burlap resists degradation from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Natural burlap comes from jute or hemp fibers woven into a strong, flexible mesh. Thus, natural burlap breathes, allows water to seep through, and decomposes with time. Moreover, it withstands heavy rain, preventing soil erosion.

For ecological benefits, avoid synthetic burlap designed for industrial purposes. It consists of polypropylene or polyester treated with preservatives. Conversely, natural burlap is chemical free and safe for use around vegetation. When laying the burlap, cut slits in the fabric to accommodate any plants.

You’ll find natural burlap at your local garden center. Choose a medium weave, which is best for inhibiting pesky weeds.

Note that burlap is long-lasting. Replace it when you see gaps in the mesh, typically in three to five years.

Heavy-Duty Paper

As a newspaper alternative, use the brown paper bags available at grocery stores. First, prepare the bags by cutting them open. Next, place one or two layers over your designated area. To fit the paper around an existing plant, cut a hole or “X” in the paper. Then water the material thoroughly. Many homeowners say their paper bag mulches endure for up to three years.

If you’re landscaping a business property, you’ll want a more aesthetically pleasing material. Kraft paper is a breeze to roll out and apply. For biodegradable kraft paper, choose a plain brand without a laminate finish.

Another option is contractor paper, which is sold at home improvement and hardware stores. With both kraft and contractor paper, one or two layers will squelch weed growth.


Here’s a way to repurpose the cardboard boxes holding your shipped goods. Use them as a foundation for your decorative rocks. Cardboard sheets banish weeds while enabling plants to draw water from soil. Meanwhile, beneficial microbes and earthworms snack on the cardboard, causing it to decompose.

Earthworms are like buried treasure! As they tunnel through soil, they promote aeration, water drainage, and higher nutrient levels for plants. Moreover, earthworm waste products serve as organic fertilizer.

For your landscaping project, choose plain cardboard that’s free of toxic ink. Next, remove any labels, tape, and stickers. Cut each box along the seams, unfold the sides, and lay the pieces flat on the ground. Make sure to overlap the cardboard where gaps exist.

One layer should suffice. Note that thick cardboard and extra layers can block water seepage. Furthermore, they can impede the gasses soil microbes need to thrive.

Next, hose down the cardboard, followed by installing your decorative rocks. If you have a dry climate or drought spells, water when the cardboard looks parched. Then replace the cardboard sheets at the start of your next growing season.

No matter what kind of landscaping project you’re planning, decorative rocks and beach pebbles can give it additional depth, character, and beauty. Whether you’re looking for an assortment of river rock or the highest-quality Mexican beach pebbles, reach out to the experts at RS&P Rock Stones & Pebbles, a premier river rock and supply superstore. To learn how we can help you create the landscape of your dreams, call us today at (866) 380-0770.

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