Landscaping With Natural Stone


Natural stone can add beauty and functionality to a garden. It can be used in small quantities, or various shapes and sizes can form the focus of a landscaping theme. The best way to incorporate natural stone into a landscape is to choose stone that is indigenous to the geographical area. Stone can be used to create walls, layers in multilevel landscapes or raised garden beds, or they can function as decorative accents or as stone mulch.

Step 1

Gather available stone, and sort into groups of similar sizes and types. Stone can be bought from stone quarries, dealers or contractors who are digging it out for new construction, or you can dig it out of the landscape in which it is going to be arranged.

Step 2

Place very large stones (2 feet or larger) throughout the garden or landscape to serve as focal points, and plant low-growing flowers or plants around the base of the stone. Accent these focal points with smaller stones (between 1 and 2 feet high) at the base to add interest. Group them in combinations of three or more, such as one large, one or two medium size and several smaller, for an interesting effect.

Step 3

Arrange a line of rocks that are between 6 and 12 inches long along the outside of gardens to form natural borders. These can be stacked two or more high to add height, depending on the height of the individual rocks. If you are working with very thin flat rocks, such as shale, for variety you can bury them on end a few inches in the ground form a standing border.

Step 4

Spread out rocks that are 2 to 3 inches long along the outside of garden paths to form a guide for a dirt path. These rocks will be large enough to clearly mark the path but small enough that people shouldn't trip over them.

Step 5

Position flat stones in pieces that are between 6 inches and 2 feet wide in a mosaic pattern along garden paths to form a walkway. Grow moss between the stones, or fill the gaps with sand, pebbles or mulch to keep weeds down. If you're using all larger stones--each larger than a footstep--space them out as stepping stones roughly 3 or 4 inches apart.

Step 6

Pour small stones and pebbles into garden beds in a layer 2 to 3 inches thick to act as mulch. Keep them at least 4 inches away from the base of each plant to allow the roots to spread and not be crowded out with the stones. Place just a few stones close to the base of the plants to help blend them in.


  • University of Minnesota: Natural Stone Retaining Walls
  • Cornell University: Gardening Resources--Mulches for Landscaping
  • Rutgers University Cooperative Extension: Landscaping for Water Conservation
Keywords: landscaping with stone, natural stone gardens, create rock garden

About this Author

Robin Lewis Montanye is a freelance artist, designer and writer. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, national magazines and on several self-help areas of the web. Montanye specializes in gardening articles with information from several universities. She has Internet articles published on, and