Landscaping rocks bring character to your garden. Carefully chosen materials and artistic placements not only serve as a focal point but also give your outdoor space a unique feel.
Explore the wide variety of landscaping rocks available to introduce different contours, heights and textures to your entryway or backyard.
Landscaping rocks have versatile usage. You can use them to fill flower beds, fashion a rock garden, enhance drainage around pools and patios, support heavy plants, accent water features, to aid weed control or to create a cobbled pathway.
Natural stone is one of the most versatile elements available for a landscape makeover. Rocks add texture and contrast, serve as a durable groundcover and require little or no maintenance.
Some types of ground cover, especially plants such as vines and low-growing shrubs, require constant maintenance in terms of trimming, watering and fertilizing. Even non-living, organic ground covers need periodic maintenance. For example, many types of wood chips and bark chips need to be replaced every few months because the wood’s color fades. Rock-based ground covers are low-maintenance because they aren’t alive, don’t need constant replacing, maintain their appearance and aren’t easily blown away by the wind or displaced by you or your pets.
Other mulches, such as wood chips, decompose as soon as you expose them to rain, snow and other elements. Not so with rocks, stones and gravel ground covers, which last many times longer than almost any other ground cover.
In certain parts of your home’s landscape, durability is an important factor. This is especially true in areas such as walkways or a driveway where organic or living ground covers would be easily trampled or destroyed by visitors or cars. Gravel and other forms of rock ground cover stand up to heavy use.
When wood chips, bark strips and plant ground covers decompose, they quickly attract hundreds of different kinds of insects that are drawn to the decaying organic matter. Of more importance are termites, which are attracted to most types of cellulose-containing mulches. Pea gravel and other types of inorganic ground cover don’t decompose and minimize the risk of such bug problems.
A rock garden, also known as a rockery or an alpine garden, is a small field or plot of ground designed to feature and emphasize a variety of rocks, stones, and boulders.
The standard layout for a rock garden consists of a pile of aesthetically arranged rocks in different sizes with small gaps between where plants are rooted. Typically, plants found in rock gardens are small and do not grow larger than 1 meter in height, though small trees and shrubs up to 6 meters may be used to create a shaded area for a woodland rock garden. If used, they are often grown in troughs or low to the ground to avoid obscuring the eponymous rocks. The plants found in rock gardens are usually species that flourish in well-drained, poorly irrigated soil.
Some rock gardens are designed and built to look like natural outcrops of bedrock. Stones are aligned to suggest a bedding plane, and plants are often used to conceal the joints between said stones. This type of rockery was popular in Victorian times and usually created by professional landscape architects. The same approach is sometimes used in commercial or modern-campus landscaping but can also be applied in smaller private gardens.
The Japanese rock garden, often referred to as a Zen garden, is a special kind of rock garden with water features, moss, pruned trees and bushes, and very few plants.
Although the use of rocks as decorative and symbolic elements in gardens can be traced back to early Chinese and Japanese gardens, rock gardens dedicated to growing alpine plants have a shorter history.
During the Golden Age of Botany (early 1700s – mid 1800s), there was widespread interest in exotic articles imported to England. Although others had previously written about growing alpine plants, it was Reginald Farrer that started this tradition with the 1919 publication of his two-volume book, The English Rock Garden.