Rock Garden Ideas: How to Create the Perfect One for Your Yard
A rock garden can add beauty and can enhance your property. By adding rocks to your landscape, you can also cut down on the amount of water needed to maintain a garden. I am going to go over exactly what you will need to get a rock garden started. You will learn what plants and flowers to use, where and how to build a rock garden, along with other landscaping and rock garden ideas.
Supplies You Will Need
- Rocks (different sized rocks will add a variety to your rock garden)
- Herbicide (for weeding the location)
- Paper for sketching (optional)
Supplies for a Rock Wall
- Metal rake
- Drain pipes
- Sand and cement or pre-mixed mortar
Good Plants and Flowers to Use
When planning your rock garden, think small for plants. Small bulbs are a good choice, such as daffodils, wild tulip species, blue-eyed grass, or brodiaea. Mints, sedums, mosses, ice plants, and blue fescue are also great plants to try. You can also try succulents. Succulents are common to plant in a rock garden since they can be planted almost anywhere in your rock garden (such as tight spots). They are also very hardy. Whatever plant you choose, make sure they have good drainage. This is especially important if you live somewhere that gets a lot of rain.
Where to Build a Rock Garden
Where you want your rock garden is your decision. There are so many rock garden ideas and designs to choose from. Some people prefer having their rock garden to be level and flat. If you like this idea, then choose a spot in your yard that is flat. Another great rock garden idea is to make your rock garden form a hill. You can do this with an existing hill, or you can make your own hill using sand and rocks. Lastly, decide whether or not you want a rock wall. A rock wall should be placed next to a hill so that it forms a wall.
How to Build a Rock Garden
Building your own rock garden is very easy to do. Before you start building your rock garden, first consider whether you want a rock garden with flowers or a plain rock garden without plants. Also, consider where you will build it. I will go into further detail below about good places to build a rock garden. I will share with you how to build a rock garden on level ground. Most of the instructions can also be used for other rock garden landscapes. Once you have considered these two factors, you are ready to start building. Let's get started.
Find a Good Location
Start by finding a good location. As I stated earlier in this article, you will need to decide where you want your rock garden located. There are many places to build a rock garden. One such place is on level ground. This is one of the most common places to build a rock garden since most people already have level ground in their yard. However, some people prefer having a rock garden hill. This means that the rocks form a hill. If you already have a hill, then great! Otherwise, you can make your own hill out of sand and rocks. Another completely different option is to build a rock wall. Wherever you decide you want to build a rock garden, make sure you choose a sunny location and a place that has good drainage if you will be using plants and flowers.
Weed the Location
Once you have decided where you want your rock garden located, it is time to get busy. You can start by weeding your garden. You can use a herbicide, or clear the area of weeds yourself.
To support your rock garden, you will need about six inches of gravel. The gravel will then get covered by topsoil, rocks, and flowers.
Sketch Your Rock Garden Plan
If you are wanting the perfect rock garden that you have visualized, as well as building without guesswork (such as forgetting where you want the rocks to go, etc.), then you may want to sketch your plan. Get a piece of paper and draw where you want the rocks, plants, and other objects. Sketching isn't necessary, but it can be helpful so you can remember where you will place rocks and other objects in your rock garden.
Pour Sand Around the Location
Place sand all around the gravel, until the gravel is completely surrounded by sand. Next, dig a small indentation in the ground for each spot where you will place a rock.
Position the Rocks
Put small rocks around the indentation and then put the larger rock on top of the small rocks. Position more rocks in a way that will make your rock garden look unique and in a way that will work well with your plants. If you will be having a rock garden without plants, then your rock garden is now built. If you want flowers in your rock garden, then continue reading.
Add Top Soil and Compost Into Your Rock Garden
Add some topsoil to your rock garden. In each spot you will be planting your flowers, pour some compost.
Plant the Flowers
Position the plants in the rock garden before you take them out of their pots. This will give you an idea of what it will look like once they are planted. It also allows you to make changes to your garden without uprooting the plants each time you do. Make sure to arrange your flowers in a way that they have plenty of room to grow. Once they are positioned in a way you like, take them out of the pots and plant them.
Lastly, cover the rock garden with gravel. Any small gravel will work.
How to Build a Rock Wall
Building a rock wall requires a little more work than a rock garden, but once again it is still fairly easy to build. With just a few materials, you can have your rock wall completed in very little time. It will take about two days to complete this project. Let's get started.
Dig the foundation twice as wide and one to two feet deep. Use a rake to smooth out the bottom of the trench. Pour lots of brick into the foundation. If desired, you can even add some scrap metal. This foundation will allow you to use less mortar with a sturdy base. Next, mix the mortar in the wheelbarrow. Use four parts sand to one part cement. Before you add the cement, put water in the wheelbarrow. Once you have made your mortar, pour it into the foundation and leave it to harden. This will take about 24 hours. While it is hardening, you can start separating the rocks you will be using.
Once you have chosen which rocks you will use (flat stones and smaller stones), soak and clean each one. If your rock wall will be on a slope, you may want to set in the drain pipes. This is very easy to do. Next, start building the rock wall by placing the larger stones on the bottom in a way that they are slanting slightly toward the up-slope (if you are building on a slope). Put the smaller rocks on the top. As you stack each rock on top of the other, make sure to add 1/2 inch of mortar on top of the rocks.
Before you place each rock on the cement, make sure to get the rock wet. Lightly tap each stone into the cement. Make sure to clean the surface of the stone while the cement is still damp if cleaning is necessary. Let the rock wall cure for a few days before kids play on the wall or before any fill is added in front or behind the rock wall.
Rock Garden Ideas and Inspiration
Hillside Rock Garden
If your yard naturally has a slope to it, you may enjoy making a hillside rock garden. When built on a hill, a hillside rock garden can add beauty and a vibrant look to your yard. To make, simply start putting large rocks and plants on your hill, and display them as desired. If you don't have a hill in your yard, you can make your own by using sand and rocks.
Front Yard Rock Garden
A rock garden can easily be built almost anywhere, including your front yard. Since most people have level ground in their yards, this type of rock garden is the most common. To make a front yard rock garden, follow the instructions I shared earlier in the article. If your front yard is small, make the rock garden smaller. A front yard rock garden can also be built in a backyard or anywhere else you desire.
If you want a flower bed, why not turn your rock garden into one? It is a great way to grow flowers and can add a creative look to your yard.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Low Maintaince
A rock garden is very low maintenance. Unlike a lawn that will need to be mowed and maintained constantly, a rock garden will only need to be watered once in a while if you have plants in the garden unless you get a lot of rain where maintenance will be even easier.
Con: The Rocks May Sink in the Ground
If the rocks are heavier than the soil, they may start to sink into the soil. This can make planting difficult and can also cause your rock garden to shift and move.
Pro: Less Likely to Attract Pests
Unlike other gardens, a rock garden is less likely to attract pests. Because it is mostly made from rocks, it will be less appealing to garden pests.
Con: Can Get Very Hot
Because rocks absorb heat, the area around the rock garden can get very hot. This isn't necessarily a con, but it may be a problem for those who don't want additional heat in their yards.
I have shared the supplies that you will need to start a rock garden, which flowers and plants to use, where to build a rock garden and most importantly, how to build a rock garden. Lastly, I listed the pros and cons of having a rock garden. I hope that this article has equipped you with rock garden ideas and knowledge and inspired you to get started on your own rock garden.