Make a Rock Garden

Edited by Robbi, Graeme, Lynn, Eng and 1 other

In almost every yard or garden, there is an area where nothing seems to grow well. That is the ideal place to create something unique and special which can offer a distinctive and whimsical look to your landscape. The rock garden is making a big comeback as we move further out from the cities and into rural areas. Rock gardens became popular because of so many people moving into areas where the soil was difficult to work. Also, the growing interest in other cultures give people ideas for their gardens they wouldn't otherwise consider.

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About Rock Gardens

A rock garden is modeled after areas of high terrain such as the Rocky Mountains, where you can find full colonies of alpine flowers, bushes, and wildflowers by the acre, all of which thrive on the cold, hard-soiled slopes of the mountainside.

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If you love the look and feel of the alpine, Colorado-like look, you can recreate it no matter where you live. Plant on a small stone ledge on your property, or if you prefer, create one to get the look you'll love. There isn't any real need to build Mount Everest or carry boulders that weigh in at a cool ton. With just a little effort, you can make a smaller version of it and still get the look that you want.

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Rock1done.jpg

What You Should Know Before Getting Started

Choose about a 10' X 10' area in your yard and you'll have plenty of space for a few wildflowers and some rocks to create a beautiful look and feel. You can, if you choose, even add a water feature to your rock garden. Dry rocky creek beds can be emulated, or tiny pools inside a small buried fountain might be incorporated. You're only limited by your own imagination. Your budget doesn't even have to suffer for this one, since in many areas, you can simply dig up the rocks that you want to transplant into your Alpine garden.

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  1. 1
    Consider your own climate, and what zone you are in, and choose plants to match
    .
    For example;
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    1. Those of you who live in desert areas, you'll need drought resistant plants that can stand up to higher temperatures and desert heat. Many rock gardens are located in hot areas.
    2. Those living in cold areas, you'll need to choose plants that will winter over.
    3. Those of you in wet and cold climates (Seattle & Vancouver, for example), you need to choose plants native to your area that are used to your type of weather.
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  2. 2
    No rock garden is limited to just Alpine areas
    .
    Deserts and forests all have their share of rocky areas and each contains plants of one type or another. Plant natural and pull in the wildlife and butterflies at the same time.
    Rock2done.jpg
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  3. 3
    Look for a natural rocky area
    .
    If you are lucky, you've already got a great area or a small rocky area, but if you're not, you can create your own with very little difficulty.
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  4. 4
    Nay Sayers
    .
    Purists are going to tell you scathingly that your rock garden should contain this or that - limiting you to the plants and bushes that grow just in the Alpine areas. The plants which grow best in bad soil are those which you'll be asked to plant. Ignore those folks and forge ahead to get just the look and feel that you want.
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  5. 5
    You might want to draw some pictures of what you want for your rock garden.
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  6. 6
    Check out a Plant Hardiness Zone Map to see what plants are best for your area.
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How to Build a Rock Garden

Building a rock garden isn't limited by much more than your imagination. Get the look you want in mind and get going.

What You Need:

  • Building sand
  • Composting
  • Loam
  • Potting soil
  • Gravel
  • Larger, heavy rocks, as well as some smaller ones to tuck into various areas
  • Plants or bushes and native flowers, in order to get more growth and less work
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Create Your Own Natural Looking Rock Garden

  1. 1
    Choose a fairly sunny area that will give you four or five hours of sun per day.
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  2. 2
    Tear out any unwelcome plants or weeds and get started.
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  3. 3
    Remove the plant roots and tree roots from the area as completely as you can.
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  4. 4
    Mix the heavy planting soils with some light weight quick draining soil such as we have listed above in the list.
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  5. 5
    Choose a stone or rocks that are native to the area you live in
    .
    Finding some that are lying around on your property is ideal.
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  6. 6
    If you have to buy the stones, then choose ones that are closely aligned to the area where you live to get a very natural look
    .
    Limestone, granite or other stones are native to certain areas. Look around and see what's on your property and try to emulate that as closely as you can.
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  7. 7
    Spread the soil around and work it into the ground, mounding some up in areas to hold the rocks at various heights.
    Rock3done.jpg
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  8. 8
    Plant the rocks firmly into the ground so that they look very natural and are partly buried and partly above the ground
    .
    Rocks that are not planted firmly in the ground are going to be very hard to plant around, and will shift with the first heavy rain.
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  9. 9
    You also want to use some pocketing in order to create the illusion of natural plants growing out of the rocky areas
    .
    Get the rocks about a third of the way down into the soil, with about two-thirds on the top. Pile some closely together and scatter others in a very natural way.
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  10. 10
    Begin to plant the plants in between the rocks, filling the areas between the rocks with soil and burying your plants as deeply as you need to in order to make sure that they get a firm rooting and can hold the moisture well.
    Rock4done.jpg
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  11. 11
    Choose plants native to your zone to ensure that they are going to take a lot less work for you and will be hardier in your area
    .
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  12. 12
    If you want, bury a small container and add a submersible pump that will allow you to pump the water
    .
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  13. 13
    Drop in a goldfish or two, or even a small fingerling trout
    .
    Using your imagination, you can bring the look and feel of a natural outcropping of rock or a forest rocky area to your back yard.
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  14. 14
    Make sure that you leave a path in a larger rock garden or at least a way to enter and to enjoy the look of it
    .
    Rock5done.jpg
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  15. 15
    Consider putting a small bench in the midst of it
    .
    A place to enjoy a coffee, or read a book.
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Tips for Building a Rock Garden

  • Rocks are heavy. You're going to be hard pressed to move them alone, so get help with this project unless you're going to be using small rocks.
  • A visit to the website of the National Wildlife Federation will allow you to designate your back yard rock garden a Wildlife Habitat and it will also help - if planted with native plants - to draw in native birds and butterflies, so be sure to plant a few food or breeding plants to give them a space to grow and to lay eggs.
  • Trees are not at all out of place in a rock garden. Choose one or two that you love and help the earth while you pretty up your outdoor spaces.
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Referencing this Article

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APA (American Psychological Association)
Make a Rock Garden. (2017). In VisiHow. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://visihow.com/Make_a_Rock_Garden

MLA (Modern Language Association) "Make a Rock Garden." VisiHow, visihow.com/Make_a_Rock_Garden Accessed 29 May 2017.

Chicago / Turabian VisiHow.com. "Make a Rock Garden." Accessed May 29, 2017. http://visihow.com/Make_a_Rock_Garden.

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Article Info

Categories : Gardening

Recent edits by: Eng, Lynn, Graeme

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