Spring is here, and summer is just around the corner. The time is right for thinking about how you can bring your garden to life during the summer months.
Why not give natural stone a try? Natural stone is one of the most versatile elements available for a landscape makeover. Landscaping with rocks adds texture and contrast, providing durable ground cover that requires little or no maintenance.
Here are some things that you can do in your garden to make it prettier than ever with some creativity and some selected stones.
Use rocks to replace mulch
While mulch is typically the go-to for plant and flower beds, rocks can be a better solution for larger shrubs and trees. Because stones don’t break down over time, they keep the soil dry and heat in. Rocks are an especially great option for succulent gardens as you want to keep moisture levels low.
Rocks may be more expensive than mulch, but they have several advantages as a groundcover. The first is durability. Mulch must be replaced every season, while rocks can last the lifetime of your garden. Another advantage is that pale-colored stones provide striking contrast against deep-colored foliage and help brighten up the shady corners of your landscape.
Mulch can also attract bugs and pests, including termites. If you’ve had issues with termites in the past, decorative rock can be a much better option for covering exposed soil. Decorative stones can create an exquisite and upscale look to your landscape.
Make a container garden
Container gardening is when you grow plants in containers rather than planting them in the ground. To build a container garden using decorative stone, you can set up a designated area in your yard and fill it with rocks.
If you make sure that this area is within reach of your sprinkler system, you’ll not only have a beautiful container garden, but you also won’t have to remember to water it. A container garden creates a beautiful space for low maintenance plants due to the decorative stone and the proximity to the water sprinkler.
Choose an area that gets plenty of sun and install two or three small boulders. Surround the boulders with closely spaced low-lying flowers, such as portulaca, ground orchids, or decorative cactus. Carefully fill in the gaps with smaller stones that complement the color of your boulders.
Voila! You have just created a small rock garden within your garden.
Use stones to create borders
There are several ways you can put a border around your flower gardens and along the footpaths. Consider building short walls from rocks that have been stacked together to create a sturdy fence that is both practical and very pleasant to look at.
You can also use rocks to create a border between your house, and the lawn serves more than one purpose. The stones help splatter rainwater away from the wall. They also help keep the grass far away from the walls, making mowing the lawn easier. Moreover, they create a beautiful space that you can use to plant shrubs and flowers.
Create a rock pathway
Several types of decorative rocks work for a pathway, the most common being gravel or river rocks. However, you can use any size stones to create a path. There is no limit to what you can do with a rock pathway – it’s all about using your imagination.
Decorative stone will have to be replaced less often than other materials used to create pathways, allowing this to be another low-maintenance alternative. Additionally, decorative stones can add a pop of color. In areas that receive a lot of rainfall, stone is an excellent material for a pathway. The stone’s weight will help the path stay in place more so than other materials, such as wood chips.
Use stones to pave your patio
Whether made of concrete, stone, tile, or some other hardscape material, patios are a fantastic way to tie the indoors with the outdoors. An exciting alternative to lawns is the extended patio—an enlarged patio that takes up space where lawn grass would otherwise be planted. Such a deck minimizes yard maintenance and cuts down on your watering needs.
When building a patio, you may need to bind your rocks together with mortar, but the end result will be both beautiful and long-lasting.
Use colorful rocks to make patterns
Rocks don’t have to just be an accent to your overall landscape design. Instead, you can choose two or more colors and create striking patterns. Often, you can use the rocks to highlight featured plants, adding some softness to your landscaping.
If you opt for multiple rock colors, you may also want to use border bricks for more contrast. It can be easy for the striking pattern you create to become blurred without borders, so to protect your landscaping vision, make sure that any brainstorming design includes some kind of divider.
Some additional advice
Here are some more things to keep in mind when using decorative rocks and stones in your garden:
- Do not limit yourself to one size or color of stone. Otherwise, you’ll have a monotonous landscape.
- Use different types of stone for different areas—e.g., framing flagstone paths with a different but complementary shade of gravel.
- Remember to include plants in your backyard and front yard landscape design. Plants soften landscapes and provide color, texture, and shade, keeping your hardscaping from absorbing too much heat from the sun.
- You shouldn’t line up large rocks in an unnatural design, such as a straight row. Large rocks and boulders should look naturally placed as they do in nature. Instead, arrange various sizes of stones and boulders in a natural, complementary design.
- Do not use plastic landscape sheeting under rocks. This will prevent water and oxygen from reaching the roots of plants and trees. Instead, use porous landscape fabric.
- Finally, consider rocks and bricks as an alternative to plants around trees for low-maintenance landscaping. Create a border of large stones, bricks, or edging to keep the smaller rocks from falling out. Leave eight to ten inches between the rocks and tree trunk.
Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.