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

June 13, 2017

How to design rocks in with your garden, and why

Rocks are an important part of my garden. I have 1/2" gravel, which is the base, and also different types of rocks, which fill different type of functions. But my favorite are the jaggedy rocks. They perform several functions, they fill in areas with visual interest while I wait for a plant to fill in, their jaggedy shape discourages people from walking in the garden, and they accent the plants.

I just moved the rock that you see in the photo at the top of this post, and it has moved several times. It's a little over a foot long, and not quite as high, and whatever it's made out of (I'm no rock expert), it's dense and heavy! And it's a beauty.

This rock, which I call "Craggy Rock" started way back in a corner where nothing had grown in yet next to the med palm. When that plant started filling out, I moved it a few feet over to the top of a hill that I called "Rock Ridge" - where there wasn't much else but rocks. Then as that area filled with plants (which took a long time!), I rolled it down the hill so I could see it again. A few months ago I moved over to another spot, behind the plant you see there, which had so few leaves that the area behind it looked bare. Now that the leaves have sprouted, I wanted to see Craggy Rock again, so I rolled it a couple of feet down the hill, and now it gives a nice visual accent to the two plants there.

The trick to having a jaggedy rock in your garden is to make it look as if it were just the tip coming up from the ground. So you have bury the bottom. I like to set them at a bit of angle, for more dramatic effect, and then I stand back. If it looks like I just went and placed a rock there, I keep working on the placement. When it works, it looks like it's always been there.

Rocks frame your plants. From a design standpoint, the space between your plants is "negative space". And it's a mistake that a lot of people make - ignoring that negative space. And that's a shame, because the space between your plants is as visible as your plants. And if that space is ugly, it's as bad as putting a beautiful painting in an ugly frame, or in no frame at all.

So get some rocks, and improve the design of your garden!
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