Will Rocks Around a Tree Kill It?

Whether you’re an avid gardener or not, you’ve probably seen rocks around a tree. Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Will rocks around a tree kill it?” If so, you’ve come to the right place.  

In this post, we discuss the pros and cons of putting rocks around trees, as highlighted by Atlanta’s arborists services experts. 


Putting small rocks around trees and shrubs will not harm them, provided you don’t crowd the plant. Experts recommend introducing a thin or single layer rather than a hip of rocks to avoid trapping heat that would eventually harm your tree.  

Benefits of putting rocks around trees include: 

Works Well as a Cost-Effective Mulch 

Rocks, gravel, and small stones work effectively as mulch around trees and shrubs. Since rocks decompose at a slower rate, they don’t add soil nutrients as fast as traditional mulch materials like compost and leaves. However, they last longer and cost less. 

When used as mulch, rocks also help to prevent weed growth. Remember to keep some distance between the trunk and rocks and put in no more than three inches of rocks. 

Adds a Decorative Aspect  

While not a compulsory aspect of landscaping, adding rocks to your yard adds some visual interest. The rocks can make your home more attractive. They also blend in well with nearly any yard or garden landscape.  

All you’ll need are rocks of your choice, a pair of extra hands, and a couple of minutes to give your yard a much-needed facelift. 

Conserves Moisture 

Since rocks and gravel reduce the surface area of soil exposed to the sun, they help to retain moisture in the soil. That means you won’t have to irrigate your trees as often. 

Using rocks to conserve moisture works well for trees and shrubs that need lots of water and in loose soils with poor water retention capabilities. This also comes in handy in areas where temperatures fluctuate widely, as the rocks help to protect roots from temperature extremes. 


Still asking yourself the question,” Will rocks around a tree kill it?” Let’s go over some of the drawbacks: 

Potential Root Damage 

The rationale behind this is that rocks may introduce too much heat to a plant, compromising the root system and eventually affecting the plant’s overall health.  

How does this happen? When placed around a tree, the rocks heat up and warm the ground around the tree’s roots.

Putting plastic sheeting between the soil and the rocks traps more heat and moisture, making things worse. 

Volcano Mulching 

Crowding tree trunks with rocks such that the rocks cover the plant to form a volcano-like shape will cause more harm than good. The tree will get wet and suffer from rot. Over-mulching may also cause the tree to choke from forming roots above ground. 

proper mulching technique will help avoid these problems. 

What to Avoid 

While most roots grow below the surface, others have exposed roots. Either way, you want to avoid cutting the roots or blocking the water and oxygen they need for plant growth.  

When using decorative rocks, you want to do it correctly, especially around trees with surface roots extending above the ground. 

Contact Your Local Tree Experts 

If you need a team of knowledgeable and experienced tree care experts, trust our Southern Tree Pros team. We’re licensed, insured, and qualified to provide various tree care services, including: 

  • Arborist services  
  • Tree removal 
  • Tree trimming and pruning 
  • Land clearing 

Call us at (770) 841-1684 for answers to the question “Will rocks around a tree kill it?” or more information on how to maintain healthy trees.  


Southern Tree Pros

Our company provides a range of services that covers everything from small residential tree maintenance jobs to large commercial projects. Our Atlanta tree service staff is fully trained and equipped to meet your needs.

Contact Us

2743 Orchard Knob Dr Atlanta, GA. 

(770) 841-1684

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