By Heather Rhoades
If you are plagued by rocky soil or have a part of your yard that is simply prone to problems, you may want to consider building a rock garden. Backyard rock gardens are an ideal way to transform a problem area into a lovely garden.
How to Design a Rock Garden
Rock garden designs vary greatly and are dependent on the space available. If you already have a rocky area, then Mother Nature has already provided your rock garden designs. Feel free to use her expert eye and leave the rocky area as it is, though you can add more rocks as needed, if desired.
If you only have a small amount of space available for building a rock garden, simply arrange a few rocks in the area. Remember to keep the arrangement natural looking. Avoid consistent arrangements, such as placing them in a straight line or creating a pattern with them. Consistent arrangements look unnatural and cause rock garden designs to look forced.
If you are building a rock garden in a larger area, you will want to sketch out the design first or employ a landscape designer who has experience in how to design a rock garden. You will be moving many rocks and you will only want to do it once, so drawing out the plans first is prudent.
Where to Get Rocks for Backyard Rock Gardens
Any natural rock will work for rock garden designs but avoid man-made stones, like concrete and asphalt. These can leach out chemicals, which could be harmful to your plants.
If you wish to purchase rocks, your local landscaper or nursery will be able to put you in contact with a soil and stone dealer. These dealers will have a large selection of different rocks for you to choose from and, for large lots, they generally charge by the pound. For boulders and larger rocks, they may charge by the piece.
For a more cost effective source of rocks for backyard rock gardens, visit a local construction site. Many times in a construction site, rocks are unearthed during building and the owner will most likely be more than happy for you to haul them away (since many times they will have to pay to have them disposed of anyway). Be sure to ask permission from the property owner or the manager of the construction site first.
Flowers and Plants for Rock Gardens
Once you are finished building a rock garden, you will need to add some greenery. Flowers and plants for rock gardens are generally drought tolerant, hardy plants. Many times they have a creeping or low growing nature. Visit your local nursery and ask about what rock garden or alpine plants they have available. Some examples of flowers and plants for rock gardens are:
Once you have purchased your rock garden plants, place some soil into a crevice in between the rocks, then put a plant and stuff the remaining area around the plant with soil.
Backyard rock gardens are an excellent way to make the best of potentially bad gardening areas. They are also wonderful ways to add low maintenance, low water landscaping to your yard.