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Easy-Care Rock Garden: When To Plant A Rock Garden

Easy-Care Rock Garden: When To Plant A Rock Garden


Havea rock garden? You should. Thereare many reasons to grow rocks in the garden, and just as many things to dowith them. Keep reading to learn more about planting an easy-care rock garden.

Rock Garden Bed Design

Awell-planned rock garden is not only be pleasing to the eyes but relativelycare free. And there are a number of rock garden designs to choose from – theycan be sprawling, naturalistic creations or rustic mounds of growing rocks. Theoverall design is limited only by your personal taste and growing space.

Likewise,the rocks you choose to grow a rock garden bed is up to you. While many peopleprefer sticking to one type of stone throughout the garden, using a variety ofrocks in various shapes, sizes and earth-tone colors can create added interest.An occasional plant here and there looks nice too.

When to Plant a Rock Garden

Onceyou’ve got the planning out of the way, then you’re ready to grow a rockgarden. Growing rocks in soil that is well draining and weed free is preferableand yields better results. But when is the best time to begin?

Plantingis best done in early fall or early spring, whichever you choose. In someareas, you can grow and harvest rocks continuously, as frost heaving churns the soil andpushes rocks easily to the surface, making early spring the most ideal time.

Creating an Easy-Care Rock Garden

Startby clearing the area of unwanted vegetation. Lay out the perimeter of your rockgarden design, making the diameter as desired. Spacing can be anywhere from afoot or so (30 cm.) up to about 5 feet (1.5 meters) apart. As to depth, shallowplanting is more prone to heaving, so this is what you want to achieve in orderfor your rocks to come up through the soil.

While,technically, you can evenly distribute the rocks throughout the garden, thiscan lead to a bland and unappealing look. Instead, go for something moreimpressive. For example, plant your tiny stones in massive amounts in someareas and then sparingly in others. This helps give it a more natural feel. Also,consider planting your rocks along a slope or small valley.

Routinecare of the rock garden is necessary but, if done right, not too challenging.Growing rocks in soil, like all gardens, still requires regular watering. Insteadof frequent watering, however, just water deeply every so often unless it’sparticularly hot, dry weather. During the offseason, you’ll need to water muchless, as winter wetness is the #1 killer of rock gardens. As Lao Tzu once said,“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which isrigid and cannot yield…”

Okay,we all want vigorous rocks in the garden, but too much fertilizer will resultin weak, spindly growth. Keep this in mind and be patient…growing rocks in soiltakes some time, unless you’re lucky enough to live in an area where they growlike weeds. Also, it is better to use slow-release, organic fertilizers.

Beaware that issues can and do arise which can ultimately affect the rock gardenbed. These may include temperature changes, like constant exposure to heat, orweather conditions such as continual rain or snow.

Ifall goes well, you should have plenty of rocks by summer’s end and a goodharvest for replanting next season or use in other areas of the landscape. Theymake fine specimens for painting projects, labeling plants, edging garden beds,or creating stonecairns.Your most prized rock harvest can even take center stage in a pet rockcollection.

Happy April Fools!


How to Build Rock Gardens for Small Spaces

The Spruce / Christopher Lee

Rock garden designs can range from to sprawling, naturalistic creations to faux dried river beds to rustic mounds of stones, soil, and plants. It all depends on your preferences and the amount of space (and rock) you have to work with. If you have a small area, often the best design is a simple, round raised bed made of select rocks. This design can fit neatly into any well-chosen nook and will not be in the way when you mow your lawn. If you plant it thoughtfully, it also won't require a lot of maintenance.


20 Most Creative And Inspiring Rock Garden Landscaping Ideas

Cultivating a rock garden can add a beautiful element to your landscape. Mix in a variety of plants, shrubs, grasses, cacti, and succulents to enhance the beauty of your property. Rock gardens are low-maintenance. They are simple to attain, whether scavenged from the forest, beach, mountains, or desert or sourced from a local nursery. They add visual interest and variety to your yard.

Rock gardens are a hot trend in the gardening world, as they can infuse a modern element into any landscape design. Whether you are looking for an easy to care for landscape or you would just like to create a mini rock garden on your property, we have a fantastic collection of ideas for you below. Underneath each of the images, you will find further information and sources.

Tell us: How have you accentuated your garden? Which one of these rock garden ideas most inspired you and why in the Comments below!

1. Dry Creek Bed. In Bainbridge Island, Washington, Welsh quartz boulders define this rock garden. Smaller rocks and pebbles have been scattered to form the dry creek bed. A variety of shrubs and grasses adds color. (via Bliss Garden Design)

2. Pebbled Pathway. A gravel landscape path leads through a lush garden with large grey rocks defining the pathway. Instead of the traditional flagstone path, this an idyllic alternative for a more natural look. (via Fifth Season Landscape Design & Construction)

3. Create A Garden Retreat. Stacked flat stones create a wall on one side, while multiple sizes of rocks, pebbles, and gravel give dimension. Succulents and plants line either side of the dry stone creek bed, adding color. (via NC Designs)

4. River Bed With Boulder Accents. This is the most basic and easy form of rock gardens, made if you have some extra-large rocks surrounded by a variety of shrubs, grasses, ferns, and plants. Smaller pebbles are scattered around the plants as a filler. (via LDAW Landscape Architecture)

5. Hidden Pathway Bridge. Use pavers and rocks in your garden to create an inexpensive pathway in your backyard. Lush plants surround the garden to create a serene oasis. (via Richard Kramer – RKL Design)

6. Zen Rock Garden. A winding pathway of gravel is defined by rock walls containing raised gardens. Plants flow over the rock walls to create a lush tropical garden feel. The white flowers are Japanese Stewartia. The trees with the Camellia-like blooms with white petals and orange centers highlighting fresh green leaves are Japanese Stewartia. The foliage turns bronzy-purple in fall. Foliage turns bronzy-purple in fall. This deciduous tree is an all-season performer. (via Whitmores Landscaping)

7. Vibrant Succulent Garden. This beautiful succulent collection is in a garden in south San Luis Obispo County, California. Succulents do best in bright but indirect sunlight. Plant succulents in sandy soils that drain easily. Rocks and pebbles on your soil as a filler can greatly enhance the aesthetic appeal of your succulent plants. (via Gardens by Gabriel, Inc.)

8. River Rock Pathway. River rocks are used to highlight this hillside garden. Large boulders to define a wall around a paver patio. The combination of varying stone materials adds visual interest and texture. (via Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design)

9. Rock Water Feature. A small water feature is built into a berm with lush plantings on either side, creating a tropical feel. (via Extreme Exteriors)

10. Bubbling Boulder. Create a zen-like feel in your backyard with a water fountain surrounded by varying sizes of river rocks. When you add a water feature to your rock garden, be sure to take the time to make it look natural. (via Aden Landscaping)

11. Raised Bed Kitchen Garden. Use large stones to define raised beds filled with organic vegetables and herbs for an edible garden. Seasonal favorites in this garden include lettuce, kale, fennel, parsley, and thyme. (via Home & Garden Design, Inc)

12. Garden Defined By Pavers. This screened garden keeps out the animals while offering a colorful burst of flowers and herbs and vegetables. Stone pavers are used to define varying types of gardens while gravel is used for a pathway around the gardens. (via SURROUNDS Landscape Architecture + Construction)

13. Entry Stone Pathway. On this side yard of a Seattle residence, large stepping stones are accented by large river rocks. The plants are pittosporum shrub. (via Folia Horticultural + Design)

14. Interesting Rock/Plant Scaping. Use a mix of boulders, river rocks, and plants for visual interest. This low-water garden will require minimal care while adding a beautiful look to your outdoor garden. (via JPM Landscape and Design)

15. Rock Garden Design. Pavers are used to define this garden bed filled with colorful flowers and tall grasses. Pebbles are used as a filler instead of traditional mulch. A small rock water feature adds a zen-like element to this rock garden. (via Kennys Landscaping)

16. Desert Rock Garden. A home in Arizona features this low-maintenance rock garden, idyllic for desert landscaping. Native plantings add color and greenery against the hardscape. (via Pinterest)

17. Japanese Style Landscaping. A New Jersey home features this beautiful evergreen garden. A stone pathway is defined by wood steps. Large boulders and the use of varying heights of conifers adds visual appeal. (via Dabah Landscape Designs)

18. Succulent Rock Garden. River rocks and beach sand accent this vibrant succulent garden. If you don’t have a beach nearby, you can source the rocks from Lowe’s or Home Depot. (via HGTV)

19. Vibrant Rock Garden. In Corona, California, this dry stream bed can help to direct drainage during the rainy season. In the plant in the foreground, is the Salvia Chamedryoides. It has cobalt blue flowers, gray foliage, extremely tough, heat tolerant, and Hummingbirds love it! (via Jean Marsh Design)

20. Spilling Succulents Creek Bed. Create a spilled flower pot look using succulent rosettes. River rocks and pebbles are used to fill in around the succulents. Add some seashells as accents to this dry creek bed. (via Pinterest)


How to Design a Rock Garden

Last Updated: December 21, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by Ben Barkan. Ben Barkan is a Garden and Landscape Designer and the Owner and Founder of HomeHarvest LLC, an edible landscapes and construction business based in Boston, Massachusetts. Ben has over 12 years of experience working with organic gardening and specializes in designing and building beautiful landscapes with custom construction and creative plant integration. He is a Certified Permaculture Designer, is licensed Construction Supervisor in Massachusetts, and is a Licensed Home Improvement Contractor. He holds an associates degree in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Rock gardens come in all different shapes and sizes. They can be made up of small pebbles, large rocks, hardy succulents, bright flowers, and any other rock and plant combinations you can think of. With endless possibilities, how do you know where to start when designing one? Don’t worry—the steps below will walk you through the fundamentals of mapping out your own rock garden, from choosing a space to picking the rocks and plants to arranging everything on the ground.


Landscaping with River Rock & Dry River Rock Garden Ideas

I’ve always been drawn to the look of a dry river rock bed garden.

When we first moved in and started to take on the landscaping of our eyesore of a yard it was in need of a serious makeover. I knew that I wanted to created a dry river landscaping stream and use a good amount of river rock in the process.

I love the look of pretty garden beds bordering a dry river bed the plants growing naturally toward the edge over time, trees and shrubs overarching the “stream”. There is something so dreamy, peaceful and calm about the look of a dry river bed and landscaping with river rock, when done properly, can be quite low maintenance.

So we started with the top of our driveway, where we at one time had a large ditch, and filled it in with old rock from our beach, which we topped off with landscape fabric and a beautiful mix of river rock.

We ran the river rock bed across the top front of the lush yard, and added a garden bed behind it as well. This garden bed is now where our new split rail fence runs.

We also added a dry river rock and grass garden bed on the path behind our house. I love the way landscape grasses mix with river rock . Very serene.

While deciding on how to handle the remainder of the landscaping in our yard, I once again took to researching and found that I was drawn again and again to beautiful images of dry river beds.

It seems that I still love landscaping with river rock so I think that our side gardens will definitely be incorporating more of this style. I can’t wait to incorporate river rock beds in more of a shade style garden and will be sharing the results with you soon!

Until then, I’ve gathered together some more lovely ideas for incorporating river rock or a dry river bed into your landscape. I hope you find some more organic inspiration amongst these beautiful ideas I’ve collected from other people’s yard.

I love the way this small river bed meanders through a pretty garden bed – image Via flickr -if you know the original source please let me know

Edging a garden bed with large and medium river rocks adds a pretty contrast to your yard and creates a neat edge to your garden beds Via Ella Claire Inspired

This beautiful dry river stream incorporates a pretty mix of larger boulders with river rock, and feels very natural in this landscaped yard Via DIY Network

I love how these larger river rocks have been placed in a pretty gravel sitting area it feels like a dry creek bed in a dessert Via HGTV

Such a lovely little dry river stream bordered by a cute white farmhouse style fence Via

The texture of the different rock sizes and gravel makes this dry river bed feel quite natural and realistic Via – if you know the original source please let me know

The large boulders that edge this bed definitely feel like they’ve been part of the landscape for years, while the smaller smooth river rock stones create a calm feel Via Garden Therapy

I absolutely love how this dry river bed seems to meander so naturally though the forest Via Bonney Lassie. There is visual organization to this garden!

If you don’t have room for a full river bed, you can landscape with river rock by covering your garden beds with stone Via

Mixing the sizes of the stones you use and edging a river rock bed with grasses creates a natural feel to your river rock landscaping Compost Rules via Houzz

Well? Are you inspired?


Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)

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jcarroll-images / Getty Images

Rugosa rose is a sprawling, thorny, flowering shrub. It prefers a loamy soil but can adapt to clay, sandy, or gravelly varieties. Good air circulation and avoiding wet soil are key for the plant to remain healthy. Heavy annual pruning is needed to keep this shrub in a pleasing shape. Blooming throughout the warm weather months, Rugosa roses are highly fragrant with the scent of old world roses.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 7
  • Color Varieties: Pink, white
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, slightly acidic, well-draining


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