Tips for landscaping with rocks.


By Nina Kulenkampff

If you want to transform your outdoor space and elevate your landscape design, landscaping with rocks is a great approach. There are many benefits to using rocks for your landscaping. However, there are some important things to consider when choosing and using decorative rocks.

Whether you want to take a DIY approach or hire a landscaping professional, here's everything you need to know for your project.

Benefits of landscaping with rocks.

Other than the fact that beautiful landscaping brings joy to people, there are many benefits of landscaping with rocks:

Rocks are a versatile medium.

From Mexican beach pebbles to river rock landscaping, decorative rocks come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. You can use them in many different ways. For example, you can create:

  • Permeable paving
  • Beautiful patterns and designs
  • Boundaries and borders for a cleaner, crisper look
  • A focal point with big, eye-catching boulders

The possibilities are endless.

Enhance curb appeal.

home with beautiful rock landscaping to boost curb appealBeauty is in the eye of the beholder, the beholders being potential buyers. Beautiful landscaping can increase your curb appeal and, therefore, your return on investment. If you use decorative landscaping rocks, gravel, and boulders the right way, you can certainly draw eyes.

High durability, low maintenance.

Rocks are incredibly durable and can stand the test of time. Using rocks and boulders leads to much less maintenance than maintaining a lawn. In fact, you can swap out your grass for landscape rocks and other hardscaping features to create a low-maintenance yard.

Related: 15 hardscaping ideas for your yard.

Natural drainage.

Incorporating rocks into your landscape can also provide natural drainage. Rocks allow water to flow through them, preventing water from pooling or causing damage to your plants. This can help prevent issues such as soil erosion and waterlogging, ensuring the health and longevity of your landscaping elements.

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Choosing the right rocks for your landscape design.

modern landscape rock gardenWhen it comes to landscaping with rocks, selecting the right ones can make a significant difference in the overall aesthetics of your outdoor space. Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing rocks for your landscape:

Consider the size and shape of rocks. Larger rocks can make a bold statement and add a sense of grandeur, while smaller rocks can be used for intricate detailing or filling in gaps. Consider the scale of your landscape and choose rocks that harmonize with the existing elements.

Choose rocks that complement your overall design. From cobblestones and Mexican beach pebbles to boulders or river rock landscaping, choose rocks that will add to the aesthetic of your home and yard. The color palette and style of rocks should complement existing elements on your property.

If you have a modern and minimalist garden, sleek and smooth rocks can enhance the contemporary look. On the other hand, if you have a natural and rustic design, opting for weathered and irregularly shaped rocks can add charm and authenticity.

Pick landscaping rocks that are suitable for your climate. Choose rocks that will withstand the climate you live in. Some rocks may be more prone to erosion or cracking in extreme weather conditions, while others may retain heat, affecting the surrounding plants. Research the characteristics of different types of rocks and choose ones that can withstand the specific climate challenges in your area.

You may also be able to keep costs down by using local or weather-resistant rock. They may be cheaper and last longer.

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Creative ideas for using rocks in your landscape.

The sky's the limit when it comes to your options. Here are some inspirational, creative, and trendy hardscaping design ideas for landscaping with rocks:

Create rock gardens. 

rock garden in backyardRock gardens are a popular landscaping feature that can add beauty and visual interest to any yard. By strategically placing rocks of different shapes, sizes, and colors, you can create a stunning rock garden that complements your existing plants and flowers.

Define borders. 

landscaping rocks and gravel to separate lawn from gardenRocks can be used as borders to define different areas of your landscape. For example, landscaping rocks can be used to separate the garden from the lawn or create borders around trees and shrubs.

Related: 15 landscape edging ideas for a clean, attractive yard.

Build rock pathways and walkways. 

rock and gravel pathway in backyardRocks can be arranged in a variety of patterns and sizes to create a unique and functional pathway. Whether you prefer a natural look with irregularly shaped stones or a more formal design with evenly spaced pavers, rock pathways can enhance the overall aesthetic of your outdoor space.

Create a fun and functional patio, even in small spaces. 

flagstone patio in backyardRegardless of the size of your space, you can create a stunning and functional entertaining (or relaxation) patio using landscaping rocks. You can use gravel, decomposed granite, river rocks, flagstone, and more.

Use boulders to add to the dimensions of your landscaping project. 

landscaping with bouldersBoulders make great statement pieces and can complement other rocks featured in your landscaping design. Add them to your garden, or use them to build a retaining wall.

Extend your fire pit area. 

fire pit with gravel and rocksDo you have a simple yet lonely-looking fire pit? Why not extend that space with rocks and grave to make it a great gathering spot for good times? Or, use stones to build a patio for your fire pit and outdoor furniture.

Install permeable pavers. 

permeable pavers landscape designUnlike their non-permeable counterparts, permeable pavers allow water to trickle through to the ground underneath, preventing flooded areas and stagnant water pools.

Use rocks for water features. 

landscape water feature that utilizes rocksYou can make beautiful water features using decorative rocks and natural stone. It brings in a natural element that other mediums won't accomplish.

Use rocks as ground cover. 

rocks used to replace lawn landscapingDon't want to maintain a lawn? Consider using gravel or pebbles as a ground cover. You can use rocks of different colors to create a stunning landscape design. Plus, this is an excellent way to limit water usage in your yard. 

Related: 15 drought-tolerant landscaping ideas and tips.

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Tips for properly installing and maintaining rock landscapes.

worker washing landscape rocks in water featureHere are some tried and tested tips for designing, installing, and maintaining rock landscapes:

Plan your project and design. 

Be sure you have a very good idea of what you want your space to look like once the rocks have been installed. Have photos that illustrate the landscape design you want.

You may even want to work with a landscape designer who can help you choose the best landscaping rocks to incorporate into your yard. When working with a pro, chat about costs and set a budget.

Prepare your yard. 

Clear the area of any debris or unwanted vegetation. Also, consider installing a weed barrier to prevent the weeds from growing there in the future.

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Ensure proper spacing and stability. 

This will result in evenly spaced rocks with a balanced look. Cohesion is key.

You should also leave enough space between each rock to allow for proper drainage and airflow. This will prevent water from pooling and promote healthy plant growth.

Additionally, make sure the rocks are stable and securely placed to avoid any accidents or shifting over time.

Consider the mature size of new plants. 

Work the mature size of plants into your sizing calculations and final design before you start the project. That way, plants won't outgrow their rock enclosures.

Maintenance and weed control. 

To keep your rock landscape looking its best, regular maintenance is essential. Remove any debris, fallen leaves, or dirt that may accumulate on the rocks. This will help maintain their natural beauty and prevent weed growth.

If weeds do appear, carefully remove them by hand or use a weed killer specifically designed for rock gardens.

Hire a landscape designer today.

If you need some help or guidance to make your vision a reality, you can start by downloading the Thumbtack app.

On Thumbtack, you can see the best landscaping companies near you. Check out their customer reviews, and browse through their photos that showcase their previous landscaping projects that involved rocks. You can contact them for price estimates, and schedule a consultation.

Related: 53 landscaping ideas for any budget.

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