How to Make a Rock Garden by Yourself?

How to Make a Rock Garden by Yourself

Written by Samantha Agostino

 In This Article:

Rock garden

Rock gardens are a great way to make the most out of the difficult areas of your garden, or to spice up your front lawn or backyard. When most people think of a garden, they anticipate green foliage, flowers, and bright colors.

Rocks, on the other hand, are an important but underappreciated component of gardens. You have a rock garden if you add rocks to your garden, incorporate them into the design, or feature them prominently among your foliage.

Building a rock garden is simple and ideal for amateur gardeners. Forget about fertilizing, weeding, and mowing. Instead, prepare to unfold a new low-maintenance rock garden.

A rock garden, also known as a rockery or alpine garden, includes and emphasizes a variety of carefully arranged rocks, stones, and boulders. This drought-tolerant garden could be the answer to sprucing up those lone boulders on the front lawn, landscaping around the front porch, or repairing an unsightly flower bed.

What Is the Purpose of a Rock Garden?

Before you begin, you should decide how you intend to use a rock garden. Will it be a place for self-reflection and meditative thought, or will it be a place for tea and reading in the afternoon? Perhaps, you only want a rock garden to add aesthetic value to your lawn while not taking up space.

The creative aspect is entirely up to you. We're here to assist you with the fundamentals, but how will you design around the space? To get you started, here are a few rock garden ideas:

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Japanese Rock Garden

Zen Garden

A zen garden is a carefully stylized landscape of rock arrangements, water features, moss, and gravel or sand that has been raked to resemble rippling water. 

Zen rock gardens are designed to imitate or symbolize natural elements and to inspire deep meditative thoughts.

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Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping

Want to save water and make your rock garden even easier to care for? Xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to minimize or eliminate the need for irrigation.

Soothing Water Feature

Soothing water feature

Turning your rock garden into an aquatic oasis may be the ideal landscape design for you if you want to relax in the afternoon. A koi pond can provide entertainment and tranquility to your garden, while a beautiful fountain can add elegance.

Wildlife-Friendly

Wildlife-friendly

If you enjoy wildlife, a rock garden is an excellent way to attract it to your yard. Turtles, frogs, and zipping dragonflies may be drawn to a rock garden pond. 

Do you want to invite birds and small mammals over? Include shrubs in your rock garden design plan to provide these animals with a place to nest and hide. 

Drought-tolerant rock garden plants, like hummingbird mints or hyssop, will be irresistible to butterflies and hummingbirds.

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How to Create a Rock Garden

It’s time to talk about the procedure to build your own rock garden. Let’s get started!

1. Clean a piece of land

The first step in creating your rock garden is to clear some space in your lawn or yard for it. In general, rock gardens are elevated above the surrounding ground. When making your own raised bed, you must first lay a course of rocks and soil and then build on top of that.

If the ground on which you want to build your rock garden is currently covered in grass, decide what you want to do with the grass. You don't want the grass to sprout up in and around your rock garden later on. If you already have a clear space, you can proceed to the next step.

One solution is to dig up the grass beforehand and then lay down your rocks. However, an easier method is to spread a layer of newspapers over the grass and then cover it with dirt to keep the newspapers in place.

The layer of newspapers will suffocate the grass and cause it to decompose by preventing it from receiving nutrients. The newspaper is a good idea because it will decompose over time and will not harm the garden in other ways.

However, even before the grass decomposes, you will have completed the first step toward your rock garden, which is to clear out space.

2. Plan Your Design

Plan your design

If you have a clean area, you can skip the layer of newspaper steps and move on to planning your placement. Planning out exactly what you want to do with your land and area is a good idea. This should be done before you begin working to avoid extra heavy lifting.

3. Choose The Rocks And Place The First Layer

Place the first rock layer

The next step is to choose the right type of rocks. You can choose rocks from your local gardening or landscaping store, or you can get some from stone suppliers. The majority of small stones and rocks should be available at gardening stores. However, for large boulders or rocks, you must contact stone suppliers.

You can lay down the first layer of stones and soil if you already have your stones and rocks, or at least some basic ones to start with. This will be the elevated bed for your rock garden. If you want a larger, more sprawling look, place your heavy boulders first and use them as guidelines to create your design. You can look up some rock garden designs or tips to help you out.

Lay out a circle of rocks as the frame for your rock garden bed. You can shape them as you wish, but a circle is recommended for the base.

In this case, for a small rock garden bed, the width of the base should be about four feet in diameter. It's a good idea to use your larger, less appealing rocks for this bottom layer.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that by using your heaviest rocks, you will avoid having to lift them for the next layer. Second, because the first layer will be less visible, it is best to use your less appealing rocks in the first layer, then highlight the more appealing rocks in the second layer.

4. Add Soil

Add soil

Now that you have the first layer of rocks in place, you must fill it with soil. Plants that require a type of soil with good drainage are typically used in rock gardens. This means you'll need to use sandy soil.

If you don't have sandy soil, but you have clay-like soil, you can add some sand to it and compost it to improve the drainage.

Shovel the soil into the gaps between rocks. After filling the bed with soil, it is a good idea to walk on it to help settle and pack it down. Later, you will add plants to your rock garden that are commonly used in rock gardens and prefer high drainage soil.

5. Add The Second Layer of Rocks

Second layer of layers

Make a smaller raised bed within the first one for the second layer of the rock garden's raised bed. Simply make another circle of rocks, but with a smaller diameter than the first.

When creating the smaller circle of the rock garden, make sure the second circle is small enough to leave a sufficiently wide perimeter between the first circle and itself. The space between the two circles should be large enough to accommodate plants. The area within the second circle should also be large enough to accommodate a small plant.

6. Have Fun With Plants

Have fun selecting plants

It is now time to think about the flowers for your rock garden. In an ideal world, the plants used in your rock garden would be chosen entirely based on color schemes. However, many other factors can influence our decisions.

One of the most significant issues with relying solely on color schemes for landscaping is that plants are alive, which is in stark contrast to other projects, such as painting or other projects where color schemes can be used to make decisions. Because plants are living things, they have specific needs that we must consider for them to thrive and remain healthy.

So, while color schemes can influence plant selection, they should not be the only consideration.

There are several factors to consider when selecting plants for your rock garden. One of the most important factors to consider, as previously stated, is drainage. It is a good idea to look for plants and foliage that prefer the drainage you will use in your rock garden. These are the plants that thrive when water can easily drip through the soil.

Even if it matches the color scheme, adding a plant to this mixture that grows well in wet soil would be a bad idea. Plants of similar nature and growing requirements should be combined to help them grow and last longer. Plants with different growth requirements may look good together for a short time, but they will struggle to thrive in the long run.

Aside from drainage, other factors to consider include how much sunlight the plants require and how much water they require. If you have a spot for your rock garden that gets a lot of sunlight, choose plants that thrive in a lot of sunlight.

To figure out what exact requirement your plan has, you can use Flora Pod Sensor. This plant-based technology will help you in raising happy, healthy plant babies. The Flora App has features like watering reminders, placement suggestions, moisture and humidity tips, lighting recommendations, and so much more.

Finally, choose plants that differ in leaf texture, plant height, and size. This adds nice visual effects and makes it appear more natural. Sedum, succulents, and phlox are all popular rock garden plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost to create a rock garden?

Rock garden projects cost on an average of $600 to $700. But mostly it depends on the size of the garden you are going for, type of garden you are planning to build, type of stones and rocks you are going to choose and last but not the least what plants you are going to choose.

2. Do rocks prevent weeds?

Unlike lightweight mulch, which can blow away, rock creates a low-maintenance ground cover that stays put. The rock helps suffocate unwanted plant growth, but some stubborn weeds thrive. Basically, rocks can prevent weeds to an extent.

3. What is the cheapest rock to use for landscaping?

Pea Gravel is the cheapest rock to use for landscaping.

Bottom Line 

Rock gardens are an excellent way to bring life to your lawn or yard. The best rock gardens are those that have a natural appearance and can help you improve your garden.

Download the Flora App for detailed guides on how to care for your specific plants & don't forget to order your Flora Sensor!

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