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Small Rock Garden Ideas

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017

The rock garden came into vogue in the 20th century, when travelers to the Swiss Alpine region became enchanted with the foliage that grew in high rocky climates. These travelers recreated the look and feel of the rocky Alps in their own gardens by incorporating native stone and plants. But you don’t have to build a miniature Swiss Alps to have a rock garden. Today, a rock garden can take many forms.

Dry Stream Bed

If you like the idea of a river, but you don’t want to worry about water, you can construct a dry river bed through your garden using smooth round stones native to your area. A winding, dry river bed gives the feel of a river while creating a natural line that carries visitors through the garden. Dry river beds require very little landscaping. You will not need a pump to circulate water--just a little weed barrier to prevent volunteer plants from growing between your rocks, and the river rocks themselves.

Desert Garden

In dry areas, a desert rock garden is a perfect way to incorporate the stark beauty of the southwest into your garden without wasting water on thirsty grass and shrubs. Desert rock gardens incorporate hearty succulents such as yucca, aloe, hens and chicks and cacti. Desert rock gardens can be considered one of the most extreme examples of xeriscaping. Several agriculture colleges, particularly those in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada (where water is scarce), offer classes or information on the subject to those with an interest in xeriscaping their yards rather than having a green space.


Waterfalls both come with ponds, and pondless varieties that circulate water without a large basin. Both varieties add the sensory dimension of sound to your garden while at the same time providing the visual interest of stone and attracting wildlife including squirrels and birds to splash in the water. Pondless varieties are also safer for families that contain children and pets, because there is no basin of water for them to get into.


About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.