In transforming a garden from the ordinary into the extraordinary, the inclusion of rock landscaping can be one of the most impressive and notable features. Rocks not only add to the natural look and feel of the garden, they can also be used to give it a distinctly rustic look. Depending on the type of rock used, it may appear as though your garden is high in the Rocky Mountains or nestled beside a seaside cove. It's all up to you.
Though many think of rock landscaping as serving an aesthetic purpose, rocks can do much more. Rock walls and rock paths through your garden can provide some functionality as well. Patio floors not only provide a level place to hold parties and gatherings, but also encourage people to spend more time in your garden. This is an extra benefit for those who put a lot of time into their gardening hobby.
Nearly any type of stone or pebble can be used in rock landscaping. Popular varieties are generally available at landscaping and hardware stores. Specialty rocks, such as large boulders, may only be available through a landscaper or nursery. Pennsylvania blue stone, which is a lightly colored stone with a blue hue, is a very popular choice. Flagstone, which can be scored and placed easily, is popular for paths and patios. Limestone or granite is often used for rock walls and ornamental work and comes in a wide variety of colors.
It is important to understand the type of garden you have and the stones that would be most appropriate. Try to determine the type of rock that would best fit with your garden. If you have a garden full of tropical plants, for example, a light-colored stone with rounded edges reminiscent of the beach may help create a themed setting. Those using more temperate plants may do better with a darker stone or stones of many colors.
In most cases, the use of rock landscaping is going to increase the cost of the overall project significantly, unless there is stone naturally occurring near you that you can harvest. Just covering a small area with river rock, which is one of the cheapest types of landscaping pebble, can be a large expense for some. It would not be uncommon to spend at least $150 covering an area 8 feet by 4 feet with river rock. Engineered stone can be cheaper for larger applications.
Depending on the type of job you are doing, rock landscaping could be a very easy or difficult project. Making a stone pathway or patio floor involves grading, laying a sand base, cutting the stone and piecing it together in the desired way. Rock walls can be just as difficult to build, whether or not mortar is used. While it is not an impossible do-it-yourself job, for someone with limited experience it may be extremely difficult and slow going.