Rock is one of the quickest and easiest ways to add depth, texture, interest, height, and maintenance-free interest to your landscape. Rock is popular in many parts of the country because it’s easy to find, and simple to use. You can use small rocks to create a walkway, patio area, or ground cover. Larger rocks or boulders can be used as edging, focal points, or to provide depth or height in a bedding area.  Where, what, and how to install landscape rock can be tricky.

When used correctly, landscape rock can be a beautiful and natural addition to your space. Otherwise, it can quickly look like a meteor shower of rocks randomly fell out of the sky and landed on your property by mistake. Follow these tips for applying landscape rock correctly.


    Create a Vision. What look are you going for? Do you have a plan? Go online or drive around your neighborhood and find landscape rock you like. Consider mixing various sizes of rocks so it doesn’t appear one-dimensional. Combine river rocks with a flower bed, small gravel for a walkway, and oversized boulders amongst the trees. Once you have your design, mark out your own property with rope or spray paint to create a layout you are happy with.

    Choose your Materials. Keep in mind the balance of your space when selecting your rock materials. Choose different sizes, shapes, and textures to keep the space interesting and distinctive. Create distinctive areas by choosing combinations, color, or patterns throughout your garden, patio, walkways, and ponds.

    Bury the Rock. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when laying down rock. In nature, big rocks look as though they are peeking out of the ground, they are not placed on top. Time has washed off the soil level to reveal the rocks underneath. So do the same with yours. For small pebbles, remove about 4-6 inches off the surface. For large boulders, you need to dig out about one-quarter the depth of the rock itself. This way, the rock looks more natural and fits into space nicely.

    Find the Side. For large boulders, look for the sides of the rock and always put the flat part facing upwards, it makes it look old, sturdy, and weather beaten this way.

    Place in Groups. Unless the rock is huge and can stand alone on its own, group large rocks in odd numbers. The goal is to look natural, and nature seldom happens in even pairs.

gravel with large boulders

    Use Ground Covering. A landscape fabric or paper ground covering underneath rock will help to prevent weeds from growing up through the surface.

    Add Plants. You don’t want weeds to grow in your rocks, but adding plants around the rocks help to fill in space and make it look beautiful. Fill spaces between rocks with low, thick plants, and place colorful perennial flowers in front of larger boulders.

If you follow these simple steps, any landscape rock or boulder you add to your garden design is going to look natural and beautiful.

Ready to plan your flower garden?  Check out these professional tips first: Professionally Design a Flower Bed

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