Designing a Rock Garden

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated January 25, 2019)


For those who would like to have a nicely landscaped yard, but aren't interested in having a high water bill, may want to think about designing a rock garden. Installing a rock garden, or xeriscaping, is an attractive and water efficient method for landscaping that can suit just about any growing zone. To design, and install, a rock garden of your own just follow these directions.

  1. Make a plan. The first step in designing a rock garden is to actually sit down and design it. What this means is that you need to pull out a piece of paper, and draw out what you have in mind. While you do this, don't worry too much about artistic ability, but rather the overall design of what you want. Take your time with this step, since the drawing will be working as a blueprint for you to follow.
  2. Draw it out. Once you have figured out the overall look of your rock garden you can begin marking it out. In order to do this, you need to first choose the proper location, and then grab some spray paint and draw it out. Pay close attention to the dimensions you have listed, and keep in mind that the average sized rock garden is about four feet in diameter.
  3. Create a sand mix. After drawing out the footprint of your new rock garden, you can begin creating the sand mix you will use for the base of the garden. While you can always create your own mix, a decent recipe calls for one part compost (or equivalent) to three parts sandy soil. Make sure that you make enough of the sand mix to cover your entire garden to a depth of about three inches.
  4. Lay the foundation. Within the perimeter of design you painted on the ground you should begin laying some newspaper. The newspaper will help kill off the grass, act as a barrier against weeds, and over time decompose and add nutrients to the soil. This layer of newspaper will be the foundation for the rest of the garden.
  5. Pour the sand. When you have the foundation laid, you can then begin pouring the sand mixture from earlier. Pour the sand and soil mixture as evenly as possible over the newspapers, and then use a rake to even out the rest. Ideally you want to have about three inches of depth, but four or five will work as well.
  6. Lay the rocks. Begin laying your rocks in as natural a seeming order as possible. While you are doing this, make sure that you are also using a variety of different sized rocks to help replicate that "natural" feel. If you still need some inspiration for how the rocks should be distributed look at various nature magazines or pictures of wilderness areas near where you live. When you are finished laying out the rocks, you should pour some of the soil mixture between the rocks to help hold them in place, and to have something you can place your plants into.
  7. Begin planting. Between the rocks, and in a few other "barren" locations in your rock garden, begin planting a few drought resistant plants. Unlike with other types of gardens you don't want to crowd in as many plants as possible. What you really want to do is scatter them throughout the garden, and use them to help create the overall look you desire.

When you have finished planting the drought resistant plants you are pretty much done. Just make sure that you keep an eye out for any potential problems (such as weeds, pests, or diseases) as you enjoy your new, lower maintenance, rock garden.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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What is 2 + 4?

2016-06-03 09:52:25

John Barrs

I think there is a necessity to keep things to an appropriate scale... having the Matterhorn in a small town backyard is a problem! (especially if avalanches can damage the house) but so is a child's sandpit sized thing looking like a fossilized coprolith in the middle of a one-acre lawn.


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