This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

July 4, 2014

How to combine rocks with plants in the garden

When I first started The Tropical Paradise, I didn't give a thought to rocks. Little by little I started adding them, but mostly for function. The rocks tell me where my water lines are, so I don't dig there (well, at least that what they should do - I've dug into a water line more than one). As I started adding more rocks, though, I came to realize how important they are to the look of the garden.

To me, rocks are in three categories, pointy (or craggy), river rocks (or roundy-roundy rocks), and large stepping-stone flat top rocks.

• The pointy rocks give the look of an outcropping of rocks, and need to be well buried. If they are just sitting on the surface, they look kind'a dumb. Aside from looking great, they perform the functions of protecting the water lines from digging, protecting the water heads from being accidentally kicked, and keeping people from walking in the garden. I have plenty of pointy rocks along the edge of the garden. They say *keep out* and *don't walk on me* as they are, well, pointy.

• The river rocks fill in space between the pointy rocks. They are only partially buried, and give a nice illusion of a small stream bed. Gotta get more of those roundy-roundy rocks!

• The big, flat top rocks are for stepping, but only for the gardener. They also perform the service of showing me where not to dig, and also give me a safe place to *perch* when I need to get into the garden for trimming. They are not stepping stones that invite visitors to step, they should just look like more rocks in the garden. The surfaces of them are not completely flat, but flat enough for me to stand on them. They are also dug in well. I don't want these rocks to *teeter-totter* while I am working back there!

This morning, after the rain, I have been out rearranging rocks. Like all good co-stars, they should make the stars (the plants) look better without overwhelming them. There is actually a very careful balance that I am looking for between the rocks being ordinary-looking and having visual interest. You know, like a co-star. If you really don't seem them, then I've done it correctly.
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