About Rock Gardens

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    Location

    • Hillsides create the perfect placement for rock gardens, as rocks can be easily added to the area and maintain a natural look. With a little effort, native vegetation can be removed and replaced by tiny alpine varieties. These rugged plants have adapted to difficult growing conditions and are well suited to rocky, barren soil. They require little care, and they enhance areas where gardening may be impossible otherwise.

    Definition

    • Traditional rock gardens consists of natural rock interspersed with plantings of alpine plants and flowers that grow naturally in rocky areas. The appeal of rock gardens as a decorative feature to the yard has given rise to rock gardens containing any type of plant that complements the design. Homeowners often create a raised bed encircled with rocks and refer to it as a rock garden. Although it may not meet the requirements of the original rock gardens, it is a modern interpretation widely accepted today.

    Plans

    • Plans for rock garden designs provide details for rock and plant placement. These designs (see Resources) feature a variety of styles that incorporate natural stone or large boulders within the design. They offer suggestions for flowering plants chosen to complement the rock and create a visual focal point for the yard.

    Preparation

    • Building a rock garden without the aid of premade designs involves selecting an area and clearing it of vegetation. Small areas can be covered with newspaper or biodegradable mulch to suppress grass or other vegetation. Top the area with 8 to 10 inches of topsoil. Insert rocks strategically throughout the design and plant flowers in crevices and between rocks. For best results, partially submerge rocks into the soil to create the appearance of natural rock formations. Spring bulbs tucked in front of large boulders bring a splash of color in early spring. Ornamental grasses provide interest, texture and color throughout the season.

    Choosing Rocks

    • When choosing stone to use in the rock garden, care must be taken to select colors that complement each other. Irregular or jagged edges generally appear more natural than smoot, round rocks. Those with color striations add interest to your rock garden and provide contrast.

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