Common Landscaping Materials and When You Should Use Them

23 Mar 2022
Common landscaping materials and when you should use them

With spring fast approaching, it’s time to begin thinking about restoring your yard to its full glory or tackling that new landscaping project. Whatever your vision for spring is, it’s important to consider more than just trimming your hedge and choosing what flowers to plant. The foundation of a beautiful yard is always beneath your feet.

When it comes to landscaping, it’s important to start from the ground up. Having an understanding of the materials available will help you make the right selections. Different areas of your yard will likely have different needs, so you can expect to use a variety of materials!

Soil, compost, mulch, sand/gravel, and decorative stone are the five of the most common landscaping materials that you will encounter (and use). In this post, you will learn the special benefits of each of these materials and when you should use them.


No gardening project is complete without soil. This material is a vital part of most landscaping and a key factor in growing healthy, luscious plants—and you need a lot of it! It’s not uncommon for a project to require large quantities of soil for a wide variety of uses. Soil is incredibly versatile, which means it’s the perfect material for many different jobs.

Here are a few common applications of soil: planting beds, raised beds, vegetable patches, filling in holes, maintaining slopes, repairing gardens, and reseeding lawns.

With any new project, additional soil will typically have to be brought in. It is needed not only to supply new features (such as raised beds) but also to supplement existing soil on the property. The current soil could be lacking in the nutrients needed for a vital lawn or garden, and fresh soil (and fertilizer) can restore the conditions.


A yard full of thriving flowers, gardens, and trees calls for compost mixed with soil. Compost is a powerful addition to gardens and whenever you are planting, it’s a good idea to add some compost. By simply mixing compost with the soil, you are adding organic matter back to the earth so it can better support plant life. This process boosts the soil’s composition, which is ideal for any landscaping project that involves plants. By utilizing compost, drainage is improved, plant growth is increased, and soil health is elevated.

Here at Peel, our compost is a blend of leaf and yard compost along with manure, which gives gardens the nutrients they need.


Mulch is not just for decoration! It’s actually a crucial component of keeping plants healthy and gardens thriving. An essential landscaping material, mulch acts as a ground cover with a variety of additional benefits.

Providing plants with a terrific ground cover, such as a mulch, means they are protected from excessive heat and aggressive weeds. Mulch manages to keep the soil cool by absorbing some of the sun’s heat and is also fantastic at retaining moisture. In the winter when the sun is less intense, the mulch will actually keep the dormant plants warm and help them to survive the cold season. Together, these features create ideal growing conditions for plants.

As the mulch breaks down, it transfers nutrients into the soil, further boosting overall soil health.

More mulch must be added at least once a year, and especially after intense rain or wind that can leave areas barren. The best time to refresh your garden’s mulch is after winter once the topsoil is entirely thawed. If you wait too long, then you run the risk of already having some intense weed competition. If the weeds are established with strong root systems, that could mean trouble for your plants and extra weeding for you this season. Ensure that the mulch is spread no more than three inches deep or else the plants will struggle to break through!

Sand and Gravel

Sand and gravel are used in brick and stonework as a fill. It also allows for better water drainage than pure concrete! Gravel is strong enough and stable enough to be used in parking spots, as it can support the weight of heavy vehicles and tools.

Winter and poor weather conditions can take a toll even on gravel. As bare spots develop, fresh batches of gravel will be needed to maintain a consistent appearance. For this reason, you should always get extra whenever you buy gravel. Your future self will be thankful! It can be difficult to get the same colour and size of gravel from one year to the next.

Sand is a filler and stabilizer for sections of pavement and brick. It keeps everything in place and level.

Decorative Stone

Decorative stones are no longer solely the domain of hot climates inhospitable to grass. Long an excellent choice for low-water gardens, decorative stones are a low maintenance landscaping element no matter where you reside. As far as upkeep goes, decorative stones are the same as gravel and only need to be replaced after poor weather. However, it is best to churn the stones occasionally and give them a good hose down. This washes away any dust and dirt that may have accumulated.

Another perk of using stones in your landscaping is that they block the growth of weeds. In fact, stones suffocate weeds even better than mulch!

All that being said, decorative stones are not ideal for every yard. They absorb heat from the sun—so much so that they can dry out the soil underneath. Since stones have no nutritional benefit for the soil, they don’t promote plant growth.

Starting from the Ground Up

A healthy and vibrant yard needs the right foundation. That’s why choosing the right landscaping materials for yards, gardens, and walkways is so important.

Soil is the staple of most landscaping projects, and compost and mulch can both add nutrients to that soil. To discourage weeds, opt for either decorative stones or mulch. For paths or driveways, gravel is a strong alternative that still offers drainage. Sand is a great filler for bricks that helps to keep everything in place.

There are many different variations of each of these materials, and they can be found on our online store. No matter how ambitious your landscaping project is, we have the materials to help you bring your spring vision to life.

To learn more about bulk mulch and our other great products, call Peel Exterior Maintenance at 1-905 873 8988 or contact us here.