Most people think of home landscaping as laying sod and planting trees, but for those who want less maintenance or who hope to use less water, rock landscaping can be a great alternative.
Installing a rock garden, however, is not just about laying some rocks over the dirt. Follow these tips for a rock garden that is functional, beautiful, and long-lasting.
Make Definitive Curves and Edges
Installing a rock-based landscape doesn't mean simply filling up your yard with rocks instead of grass. To add beauty and dimension to the yard, soften the harshness of the rock garden by giving it curved edges and flowing patterns. You might have a rounded area with rocks, but break up the flow with a mulched area here and there. You can also do curved patterns of different rock types and colors to add interest.
Don't Forget Plants Have Their Place
Making a rock garden still involves plants. However, instead of installing big trees or water-hungry shrubs, you might do tall grasses or small hardy bushes. Choose some perennial plants that have interesting leaf shapes and bright colors. The neutral palette of the rock garden helps these plants stand out.
Make Provisions For Weed Prevention
Weeds will still fight for dominance in your landscape. Before laying down your rocks, spray for weeds and lay down a weed barrier fabric to discourage weeds from growing. Each spring, you might spray for weeds to kill seedlings that might have made their way through the weed barrier or sprouted on top of it, as some seeds carried on the wind can land in the rocks and sprout, despite the harsher stone environment.
Rocks do not have the same living energy that plants provide, so if your rock garden doesn't have much for plant life, you need to add the energy in another way. Some people might add a rock fountain, granite bubbler, or small stream. You could also install moving features, such as a set of flags or wind-catchers. You can also create movement in the design by choosing different stone sizes to frame the yard, such as a large granite boulder or ridgestone decorative wall.
Match the Style of Your Home
Rocks have a great deal of variety. Small, crushed limestone has a smooth, modern look. Large white quartzite offers a clean, bright appearance. Your choice of rock should match the design style of your home. You might also try to match the natural stone colors of the region where your house is built. For example, if you have a house in Northern Montana built with a cabin style, you might choose river rocks of various sizes for your front yard, embracing the "rainbow" quality of Montana mountain stone, with colors like purple, green, cream, and rich brown found in the same mix of gravel.