Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

December 14, 2017

How to use rocks in your garden

In the past couple of years I've added a lot more rocks to my garden. This is out front, and of course there's the 1/2" gravel. I've also added some nice "craggy rocks", like the one in the foreground, which in addition to being a nice accent to the garden, protect the little plastic sprinkler heads from being kicked (accidentally, usually by me).

But my latest addition is more river rocks. My goal is to make a smooth transition from the river rocks to the 1/2" gravel. So I will need more smaller river rocks (the smooth ones). I just added the big one you see there, and while it's a smooth river rock (not a craggy rock), it's big enough to have some personality, and it will be fine there, especially as I add more smaller rocks around it.

In addition to looking nice, the river rocks help hold in moisture, and discourage the local cats from, uh, "doing their business" under my palm trees. I will probably go back to the rock store and pick up some more, about 2" - 3" average size.

When you add rocks, remember to integrate them. That is, don't just toss them on the surface, where they just look as if they don't belong. Dig down a bit, and give them a place where they seem to fit. Surround them with other rocks, or plants. And for a more natural look, get ordinary rocks, nothing flashy, nothing shiny. The effect of the river rocks should be a pleasing background to your garden, whereas the craggy rocks can be more spectacular.

And always stand back and look at your composition from a distance. There's an old rule of design that if it looks wrong, it is wrong. Go with your instincts. And if someone asks "what's that rock doing there?" it's in the wrong place, reevaluate, and redesign.
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