The secrets to a rocking rock garden

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Ah, the joys of having a great, big garden. Your own personal piece of earth to embellish according to your desired taste. Problem is: what do you do with it? 

Designing a garden is not the same as spicing up, for example, a living room. Scatter cushions and lush window treatment won’t pack the same punch in your exterior spaces, so we need to think further ahead. 

Have you ever considered a rock garden? Low in maintenance, high in aesthetic value, and definitely something different. The typical elements of a rock garden include natural stones and some gravel beds, joined by a few plants that don’t require bucket loads of water. But here is the really fantastic thing: you can throw all that out the window and design your own unique rock garden from scratch, adding to it whatever you deem fit. 

But seeing as this is homify, we would like to help you achieve that stylish rock garden. And whether you want to tackle this as a DIY project or would rather enlist the help of a landscape designer is completely up to you!

Pick the proper plot

mediterranean Garden by SOL AG
SOL AG

SOL Ausstellungsgarten Grenchen

SOL AG

First things first: where to place that rock garden. And this is a bit more complex than asking yourself if it will be at the front of your house or the back. 

Like any other garden (rocky or not), you have to consider factors like sunshine and shade. As the solar heat from the sun is collected by the stones and then gradually released towards the plants and flowers, deciding where to place what is quite important. 

Furthermore, the ideal location for a rock garden is a landscape that gently slopes down, as this provides the ideal conditions for water draining. 

Sol Ag kicks off our visual presentation with a rock garden that looks like an image out of Wonderland. Including an herb spiral, a small stream and even a quaint little bridge, this is certain to launch your gardening inspiration.

Plan your layout

After selecting the prime spot, decide on the layout and which elements you will be adding to it. Will it be a mixture of stone and gravel? Will there be some colourful pebbles? How about a water feature? What type of plants or flowers will you add to it? 

Try and sketch everything down on paper (even if you’re not regarded as an artist), as seeing a visual representation will help you make decisions on the quality and quantity you will be needing. 

Our example above by Mm Naturstein shows a rock garden which serves as the transition space between the house and the lawn. The colour of the stones was specifically chosen to blend in with the house’s façade, ensuring a stylish consistency.

Settle on the right soil

 Rock Garden by Gärten für Auge und Seele
Gärten für Auge und Seele

Eine kleine Terrasse lädt zum Verweilen ein.

Gärten für Auge und Seele

The type of soil you will pick is also a vital factor in designing your rock garden. As the name suggests, a rock garden is synonymous with stony and sandy surfaces. To avoid water-logging, your choice of soil should be loose and permeable. 

Ask an expert at your nursery for a soil-measuring kit and explain your desired garden to him. With professional advice to guide you, along with the perfect soil and the ideal gentle sloping landscape, your rock garden is on the path to success. 

homify hint: The amount of sand, clay and silt is what gives different soil types their various textures. Most soils are a mix of all three.

Prepare your garden

Start preparing your garden for turning it into a rocky space. We would suggest starting this project in spring, seeing as the sun will be stronger (but not boiling) and it will do a greater job at warming up the soil. 

Make sure to eliminate any roots or weeds to avoid unwanted vegetation sprouting up amongst your rocks. Tackle your soil with a decent weeder or rake to get rid of unwanted plants and loosen the ground. 

On the top of your soil, lay down a nice gravel layer to avoid waterlogging. After placing the larger stones in their desired spots, fill up the gaps with sand.

Selecting stones

For a very raw and natural feel, consider mixing different stones with your gravel. Limestone, basalt and sandstone are popular choices when it comes to enhancing a garden space. 

Refer to your sketch you made earlier to avoid moving rocks around the whole day before you settle on the perfect layout. Will your design be perfectly symmetrical or more wild and natural? Or will your garden rocks make up a certain style (such as a Mediterranean garden or a rustic atmosphere)?

homify hint: A rock garden can raise the value of your property. Potential home buyers may see your rock garden as great relaxation spot to either sit and read, or just add some beauty to the background.

Picking out plants

 Garden  by Andreae Kakteenkulturen
Andreae Kakteenkulturen

Begleitpflanzen für Kakteen im Steingarten

Andreae Kakteenkulturen

Now for the fun part – adorning your rock garden with plants and flowers and colours! 

Adding flowers in-between the rocks adds a striking vision to the garden, especially brightly coloured flora. Rock cress, sedums, candytuft, and perennial alyssum (also known as Baskets of Gold) are just some plants to consider for your rock garden, each as unique and splendid as the next. Bluebells, primroses and avens are ideal to project a mountain-like setting, while lavender and herbs can provide a Mediterranean flair to your garden.  

However, before you get down to planting, remember that the spaces among your large stones need to be filled with compost or potting soil. And just make sure your soil provides good water drainage in order for your plants to survive!

Happy (rock) gardening! 

Ouch! Make Your Garden Safer For Kids before you start giving personal tours of your rock garden.

Would you like a rock garden? How would you design it? Share your ideas in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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