Building and planting a rock garden can add a natural look to the landscape of your yard. Rock gardens usually contain low-growing plants that rarely reach 24 inches tall. Larger plants often look out of proportion with the rocks and may even conceal them during the growing season. A wide variety of low-growing ground covers, perennials and succulents can be used to create a diverse rock garden that will provide year-round interest.
Saponaria ocymoides, or rock soapwort, grows between 3 and 10 inches tall and up to 12 inches wide. Rock soapwort features evergreen foliage. In the spring, small pink or purple flowers appear and last through the summer. Rock soapwort grows well in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. Plant this perennial in sun and well-drained soil.
Creeping Baby's Breath
Gypsophila repens, commonly called creeping baby's breath, grows 4 to 8 inches tall. The trailing stems reach 18 inches long and bear narrow leaves and clusters of white or pink flowers in the summer. Grow creeping baby's breath in hardiness zones 4 to 8. Plant in sun or partial shade and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil.
Sempervivum arachnoideum, or cobweb houseleek, is a succulent evergreen that grows 1 to 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The grayish green leaves form rosettes joined by cobweb-like hairs. Reddish pink, star-shaped flowers bloom in summer. Cobweb houseleek grows in zones 5 to 10. Plant this succulent in sun or partial shade and dry soil.
Compact Rose Cranesbill
The trailing perennial Geranium dalmaticum, or compact rose cranesbill, grows 6 to 12 inches tall and forms a mat 18 inches wide. The dark green foliage of this geranium turns red in the fall, and 1-inch wide pink or purple flowers appear in the spring. Compact rose cranesbill will grow well in zones 3 to 9 if planted in sun or partial shade and well-drained soil.
Phlox subulata, commonly known as moss pink, reaches 4 to 6 inches tall and up to 18 inches wide. In late spring or early summer, clusters of pink, white or lavender flowers bloom amongst the thin, needle-like leaves. Plant moss pink in hardiness zones 3 to 8 in full sun and loose, well-drained soil.
Two Row Sedum
Sedum spurium, or two row sedum, grows 2 to 4 inches tall and spreads to 18 inches wide. The trailing stems teem with clusters of pink or red flowers in the summer. The cultivar 'Red Carpet' features red leaves and flowers. The evergreen foliage of 'Dragon's Blood' turns red in the fall. Two row sedum grows best in zones 3 to 9. Plant this sedum in sun or partial shade and dry, well-drained soil.
Yellow Ice Plant
The succulent evergreen Delosperma nubigenum, or yellow ice plant, only grows 2 to 3 inches tall but spreads up to 3 feet. An abundance of yellow, daisy-like flowers bloom in the spring. The foliage provides year-round interest, turning reddish purple in winter. Provide yellow ice plants with sun and well-drained soil in zones 5 to 10.