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Landscaping with rocks can add some real drama and excitement into a garden. Rough, random, rocks remind us of the rugged and rustic beauty of the natural world .
Their fragmented shapes and textures create a dramatic contrast to our typical built environment. Rocks and boulders can provide much needed juxtaposition to square lawns and smooth surfaces.
In Japanese gardens rocks are used to symbolise the mountains and outcrops of wild, untamed landscapes. This concept of microcosm can be implemented into any garden style. Rocks take millions of years of natural and tectonic process to form.
This makes having them around our homes and gardens an exciting privilege! In this article I will list and describe eleven tips and ideas for landscaping with rocks.
Create a desert garden
Desert gardens and planting schemes are designed to replicate arid regions of the world. Such places include; North Africa, The Middle East and Mexico.
These landscapes can be very beautiful and provide a warm and inviting feel. As these regions are often too hot for much ground vegetation they take on interesting characteristics.
Such are typically dominated by rocky outcrops, gravels and sands.
Plants are generally scattered at low densities throughout deserts but never a primary feature. This gives desert gardens the opportunity to become the perfect low maintenance garden.
Rocks and gravels can be positioned naturally and planted with palms and succulents.
Build dry stone walls
Dry stone walls can be a great way to build raised structures such as raised borders. Smaller rocks can be stacked together to form walls and steps.
The rough textures of natural rocks can provide an effective contrast to smooth, horizontal, surfaces. Rocks do not even have to be laid dry, rocks can be mortared together to form walls and embankments.
boulders which are more circular can be cut with a grinder and diamond blade. This way you can make use of both natural sides of your rocks.
If you are on a budget you can create a dry stone wall effect with broken paving. This can be used to clad concrete blocks so you maximise natural stone as much as possible.
Form land art
Land art installations can come in many forms and can look extremely interesting within the landscape.
Such art pushes the boundaries of what is natural and unnatural within an outside space. A good example of very old land art would be ancient stone circles. The rocks themselves look naturally occurring but are arranged in an unnatural way.
Such a concept is a great landscaping idea for rocks! Rocks can be positioned in peculiar formations and arrangements to provoke curiosity and imagination.
Create dry river bed schemes
In the natural landscape some of the most impressive rocks are within gorges and dry river beds.
This is because seasonal flood water flushes large rocks down from high up rocky environments. Over many years water erodes and scatters rocks in organic and meandering formations.
These rocky river beds open out into sedimentary gravel beds which are dry during the summer months. The dry gravel beds can be exceptionally beautiful and easy to replicate in gardens.
Rocks can be arranged around varying sized gravels to form impressive features. These can then be enhanced with both planting and lighting.
Gabions are strong, wire cages which are designed to be filled with rocks. When full with rocks, these large cubes of stone create the perfect retaining structure.
These can be stacked high to retain large embankments or even raised beds. Gabions can also be topped with external grade timber to create benches and tables.
The wire cages can be filled with rocks of different sizes and shapes. This can create the perfect building material providing fantastic visual textures within the landscape.
Rocks are expensive so a good tip is to fill up the backs of gabions with old concrete rubble. This means you can get more for your money with the rocks you buy.
Form rock piles
Rock piles may not seem the most functional use of rocks. However rock piles can actually be very beautiful installations within the landscape.
Rock piles can create the perfect hibernacula’s and hiding places for beneficial wildlife in the garden. The multiple nooks and crannies can provide shelter for spiders, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals.
All of which are vital for consuming garden pests and maintaining ecological balance. These can be even more beneficial if they are positioned around ponds or dense vegetation.
Create succulent gardens
Succulents are leathery plants which are naturally adapted to well drained and dry conditions. As many succulents look similar to cacti they have very interesting shapes and forms.
This makes them quite a novelty within any planting scheme. Before planting a succulent garden you may have to check your local climate for an individual succulent’s suitability.
Some succulents can take very cold and more moisture retentive conditions. However many cannot tolerate hardly any water and need warmer climates than others.
Nonetheless, succulents look very impressive in rock gardens and rockeries. Some succulents require such small amounts of soil they can actually be planted within the cracks of rocks.
For more information on how to create succulent gardens outside view our article here.
One of the best ways to fully appreciate your gardens rocks is at night. This can be achieved with spike lights or up lighters.
Different colour lighting can make your rock gardens even more interesting. With modern solar panel technology you no longer even need external cabling. You can simply install solar up lighters around rock features and dry stone walls.
The great thing about rocks and stonework in a garden is they can provide height and elevation. This can be extremely useful when creating enclosure and microclimate.
When planning a rock garden try to think about how you can create enclosure with rocks. Perhaps you can build dry stone walls around a sunny patio or seating area?
Or stone retaining beds with rockery features on top to create warm, sun, traps!
There is probably nothing more ore inspiring within a garden than a natural looking waterfall.
The combination of moving water upon rocks is one of the best examples of natural process at work. Combining stone and water within a landscaping scheme is always a recipe for success!
Large rockery mounds can be built up with concrete and rocks. A deep plunge pond can be excavated at the base to capture and re-pump circulating water.
You will have to design your waterfall with care so it does not loose water and empty too much over time.
The great thing about rocks and builders is they display a variety of interesting textures. These can depend upon what geological material your rocks originate from.
For example, slates will display more straight lines and smooth edges. Rocks like granite however will have more of a rough and course texture to them.
Ultimately landscaping with rocks provides the potential to celebrate and contrast different visual textures. This can be effective by juxtaposing rocks with paving, decks, lawns, gravels and planting.
Thank you for reading our article on Ideas and tips for landscaping with rocks. Below I will link to some other articles you may also find relevant. If you require landscaping services please do not hesitate to contact us.
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