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Creating and Caring for Rock Gardens

Some people may call Rock Gardens "old fashioned". Others, call them stylish and new. The truth of the matter is, rock gardens have been around for a long, long time. And, they've always been "in style". Styles change. Designs may change. But, rock gardening has always been, and will always be, very popular among home owners and home gardeners.

Rock garden designs are limited only by your imagination. It may also be limited by your ability to move that big boulder to an appropriate location in your yard.

Home owners and home gardeners place rock gardens in the front yard and the back yard. They create them along the house or garage, along a sidewalk, or set off in the yard by itself.  They also make an attractive garden berm. These gardens are often an integral part of the home landscape design.


The Basics of a Rock Garden:

It's real simple, a rock garden employs rocks to create a natural, decorative setting. You can use big rocks, small rocks, matter of fact all kinds of rocks. Rocks come in unlimited shapes, and a wide range of natural, earth tone colors. In creating a rock garden, there is no right or wrong. Take a big rock, or boulder, and build a flower garden around it. Or, you can use a number of rocks, to frame your flower garden. You can also use rocks to create a frame for a raised bed garden.  Rock gardens are also popular on hillsides for terracing, and to stop soil erosion.

The second thing you need is flowers. Key characteristics for selecting flowers for your rock garden are:

  • Size- most rock gardens utilize smaller plants. In general, for big rocks, select bigger flowers. For small rocks, choose small flowers. The flowers should always be smaller than the rock. Flowers should accent the rocks, not hide them.   

  • Flower Colors- Here's where the home gardener can get really creative and stylish. Select flower colors to compliment or contrast with the rock colors you have selected.  

  • Perennials are the most popular flowers. They allow you to plant once, and the perennials will grow for years undisturbed with little attention. You can use herbs, too.  

  • Plant pH Range - Rock gardens and surrounding natural soil is often neutral to slightly alkaline.  For the best performance, select plants that prefer slightly alkaline soil. If you bring in soil to fill your rock garden, soil pH may not be an issue.


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Artificial Rocks were first used to cover unsightly utilities and wells. Rock gardeners found them irresistibly attractive. More on Artificial Rocks.


Flower selection should accent or highlight the rocks you have used.

Here are some recommended flowers for rock gardens:

Achillea

Cactus

Candytuft

Bellflower

Jacob's Ladder

Lavender

Miniature roses

Moss Rose

Phlox

Primrose

Rock Cress

Rock Soapwort

Snow-In-Summer

Note: Almost any flower shows well around rocks and boulders. For example we've seen Black Eyed Susan and a variety of daisies perfectly adorning large boulders. Clumps of Ornamental Grasses look great around large boulders, too.

On occasion, a shrub may be used. Care should be taken, to assure to choose a shrub that fits the garden design, and does not overcrowd the setting, or other plants.


More Gardening Information:

Artificial Rocks



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