5 Uses for Rocks in Your Landscape

My Garden Life
September 25, 2020
Table of Contents
If you’ve ever dug a hole to plant a shrub, you know whether you have plenty of rocks in your soil. Hard stones can be a pain, but you can reuse rocks from your garden or “found” or purchased rocks. Here are five ways to make the most of stones.

1. Path or Garden Borders

garden path and edging made from rocks

Gravel is, after all, small rocks! You can make garden paths with small gravel or pebbles for a nice flow in your garden. Decomposed granite, also known as crusher fines, is the easiest to walk on. It lets water through and compacts over time, cutting down on weeds. Add larger rocks as a border for a contrasting effect. Or just use rocks to create a border around a bed or plant.

2. Create a Microclimate

a garden area created by making walls of large stones secured by heavy wire mesh

A microclimate is a smaller area that creates warmer or cooler temperatures. Shade creates a cooler microclimate. Rocks typically hold heat and help warm plants or provide extra light as the sun bounces off light surfaces. Boulders also can provide a slight wind break for a plant. So, if you have a new plant that needs a little more warmth than your area’s cold hardiness, plant it against a rock or rock wall, especially walls that face south.

3. Water Management

a rock trough created to channel water down a slope

Place rocks to manage water. You can create a dry riverbed from rocks to divert water from a rain gutter to a nearby tree or lawn. If you plant on a slope, use rocks to terrace or to hold water on one side of a plant. You also can use rocks to slow water down on slopes, helping to lessen water loss and erosion.

4. Feature a Favorite Plant

large rocks make a perfect backdrop to a California poppy plant

Often, you have a favorite plant that sort of blends in with the others. Place a rock behind the plant to make it stand out in your garden. You also can offset foliage or bloom color, such as white or gray stone behind orange blooms like this California poppy, or even a reddish rock behind orange or white flowers.

5. Shape a Berm or Raised Bed

A beautiful berm created by stacking rocks

Use large rocks to form a berm, or raised area of ground, or to create a terrace. Add interest to a flat garden by mounding soil and placing rocks in or around it to hold it securely and create a natural effect. Those rocks can double as microclimates, erosion control or as feature pockets of plantings!
Horned toad lizard resting on a rock in a garden.

You might as well make the most of rocks if you have them naturally occurring on your property. You’ll save money by using rocks from your yard instead of purchasing pavers in many cases. Rocks are a great solution for sloped areas that are prone to erosion. Learn about this and more in our article, How to Stop Soil Erosion.

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