Inexpensive Rock Garden Ideas

Rock gardens create a special oasis in a landscape. The typical rock garden design uses low-growing plants and earth tones to create a seamless addition that blends well with existing landscapes. Inexpensive rock garden ideas include using available materials around the home. The distinctive, simple look of a rockery allows the gardener create a blend of rocks and plant suitable to any budget.

Use an Existing Slope

Save money and time by selecting a portion of the landscape with a natural slope for rockery installation. Mowing steep hills or berms presents a challenge. Convert this difficult terrain to a rock garden area to eliminate the problem. Conforming a new rock garden with existing landscape includes incorporating this feature into flat areas of the landscape. Difficult sites in full sun provide the perfect opportunity to plant the tough plants that grow in a rock garden. Many plants such as sedum or rock cress tolerate dry conditions and poor drainage.

Native Rocks

Rock gardens need distinctive rock pieces to create the desired effect. Save money by visiting local construction sites to obtain rocks from builders. Most builders allow homeowners to take rocks from a construction site for free. The only expense is your effort and the cost of the gas to get the rocks home to your new garden. Select manageable rocks and create the impression of a larger rock outcrop by piling rocks. Fill in with soil around the outcrop for a natural look.

Annual vs. Perennial Plants

Rock gardens often feature perennial plants that return every year to beautify the hillside. Perennials cost considerably more than annual plants. Consider selecting low growing annual plants such as alyssum or dianthus that easily reseed to simulate the effect of more traditional rockery plants. The best case scenario involves choosing a few perennials to start the garden. Fill in blank spots with annuals and plan to add more perennial plants the following year. Choose perennials that are easily propagated or divided, such as sedum, heuchera, columbine, hens and chicks, and blue fescue.


Mulch retains moisture, controls weeds and adds a pleasing neatness to the landscape. Mulch serves as an important decorative element in a garden. It forms a dark background to enhance the appearance of foliage and flowers. Mulch also does the very same thing for a rock. Darker mulch tones offset the gray/blue color of the rock components in the garden. The simple contrast creates texture and interest in the rock garden with minimal expense. Many counties offer free or inexpensive mulch at their recycling stations.

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About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.