River rock is a collection of stones in various sizes and colors that come in a rounded shape. Most are taken from waterways, where the sanding action of water gives them their polished oval quality. The stones can be selected for color, size or shape to create any number of aesthetically pleasing features. River rock can be used as hardscape, mulch or incorporated into water features.
Garden pathways made of river rock help to tie one landscaping feature to another and to create both a visual and an actual pathway through a garden. A garden pathway helps to define and separate parts of the garden, and prevent onlookers from stepping on tender and valuable plants by pointing out areas where it is safe to tread. For pathways made of river stone, dig out the pathway so that the stones are level with the earth to give the path the sunken quality of a river. Pathways made of river stone should wind in the same way that rivers wind to suggest the river-like quality as well.
River rock landscaping looks natural when used to boarder water features such as ponds, stream beds and waterfalls. River rock can also be used in the catch basin of a pondless waterfall to keep children and pets out of the water basin and protect the water. Because river rocks are naturally found in water features, they blend seamlessly into the water feature and help soften the borders between pond liners and land. Select river rocks with interesting colors that will darken and appear more textured when wet, for a pleasant accent to your water feature.
For a more natural looking decoration in the garden, some stone cutters have begun sand-blasting signs into the face of large river rocks. The recessed areas of these signs are then painted black to give the stone the appearance of age. These signs, which range from street addresses to family names and garden slogans and mottos, can be placed in the yard for a distinctive, yet natural-looking, ornament.
For a natural-looking extension of the home that blends your living space with the outdoor landscape, a patio made of river rocks makes a distinctive landscaping feature. The patio may be made of large river rocks sunk into the ground or held together with masonry. Or create the patio with loosely-spaced paving stones and fill the spaces between with pea-sized river rocks.