Natural rocks and stones provide endless possibilities when used in a garden. Landscaping rocks add a textural element and can be used as a decorative feature, as a garden border, or to complement design elements such as a fountain or retaining wall.
There are several ways you can use landscaping rocks in your garden. Before we dive into some of them, it's a good idea to choose the right rocks for your landscape. The rocks you choose will set the tone for your garden. Whether you're re-designing your garden or wanting to add rocks into your existing garden, think about what size, colour and texture of rock will complement your space.
If you have a formal garden, you might want polished stone or pebbles to add a touch of elegance and refinement. For a native garden, adding sandstone, river rocks or even boulders can give a great aesthetic and serve the natural landscape well. For cacti gardens or courtyards, choosing warm colours will add great contrast, whether that's in the form of gravel or pebbles.
Read on and discover some easy ways to use landscaping rocks in your garden.
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Using rocks in landscaping as a border
Using landscaping rocks as a garden border not only looks great but can help protect your garden bed from invasive grasses or weeds.
Large, flat stones can be laid around garden beds for contrast or you can use pebbles or crushed rock toppings to add a rough, natural touch.
If there are no restrictions in your area, you can also use landscaping rocks as a sidewalk border on your nature strip.
You can use rocks to replace mulch in a garden
Rocks can be used in place of mulch as a decorative groundcover.
There are a couple of benefits of using rock instead of mulch. For one, rocks are durable. Mulch will need to be replaced every season, whereas rocks can last a lifetime. Secondly, rocks create a weed barrier, smothering unwanted plant growth and protecting existing plants from takeover.
Using rocks like slate mulch, river rock or lava rock will bring attention to your foliage and lighten up any shady or bare areas in your landscape.
Turn beautiful landscaping rocks into a focal point
One or two strategically placed boulders can add an impressive focal point or decorative feature to your garden. You can combine elements such as a boulder with a mixture of stones, potted plants or ornamental flowers to create a textural contrast to a garden corner or bordered area.
In a small garden, you can use landscaping rocks as a complementary element to an existing focal point. For example, you can use rocks to border a fountain or ornamental tree for added emphasis.
Another great way to use rocks in your garden is to create exactly that: a rock garden! If you have a bare patch or an area where the soil isn't viable for planting, then place some large boulders and fill in the gaps with a mix of smaller rocks or gravel. You can add some decorative cactus or low-ground grass covers for a natural, lived-in look.
Add mobility and charm with stepping stones
Creating a garden path using crushed rocks and brick edging will spruce up any backyard. Laying your path is quite simple, and can be easily done by the home landscaper.
Alternatively, if you have a larger space, you can use large bluestone or sandstone stepping stones as a garden path. A stepping stone path is perfect for shady areas or for use alongside a house, where there's high traffic and too little sun for plants to thrive.
Rocks can be used as a retaining wall
There are a couple of ways you can use rocks as a retaining wall or natural border. Building a boulder or stone retaining wall is a good option in multi-level gardens. Building a stone retaining wall can be done without mortar, using a dry-stack method. This may require a little work but looks fantastic, especially when using bluestone.
Another way you can use a rock wall is in your veggie garden. Your rock fence can be used as a raised garden bed for all your edible plants, herbs and vegetables. Lastly, if you love entertaining, consider creating a rock wall around a sunken fire pit, outdoor kitchen or as a feature wall in your courtyard for added character and razzmatazz.
Find creative ways to use landscaping rocks around water
Placing rocks around water gardens, fountains, creeks, ponds and pools is a great way to beautify a space and create an oasis within your backyard.
You can use river rock to border water features and make manmade springs look natural. Pools can be made to look like natural lagoons with strategically placed stones, and fountains can look like natural springs with big boulders propped up against them.