How to Landscape With Landscaping Rocks


Landscaping rocks can add beauty and structure to any backyard, front yard or garden area. Landscaping rocks can be used for borders, walkways, patios, walls and mulch. A patio using landscaping rocks can be completed in a weekend. Decide where you want the patio, how large it will be and what shape you want before purchasing any supplies.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Builder's sand
  • Flat landscaping rocks such as flagstone
  • Pea gravel
  • Carpenter's level
  • Outline the area for the patio with the garden hose, adjusting the shape until it pleases you. Measure the area lengthwise and cross-wise to determine how much stone you'll need. For example, if the area is five feet by 10 feet, you'll need 50 square feet of rock. If it's eight feet by nine feet, 72 square feet of rock will be required. When the area is oddly shaped, measure it as close to a rectangle or square as possible. Having too much rock is better than coming up short. The extra rocks can be used as stepping stones leading up to the patio.

  • Remove any sod and plants. Place the sod upside-down to kill the grass and re-use the soil in the garden or border areas. Dig the patio area down about three inches. Rake free from rocks and level as best you can. It doesn't have to be perfect because the sand will fill in gaps.

  • Visit a building supply store, big box home store or landscaping center. Work with the sales clerk to determine how much sand is required based on the square footage of the area and a depth of two inches of sand. Purchase enough flat landscaping rocks to cover the patio area less 10 percent. The 10 percent will be the gaps between the rocks, which will be filled with pea gravel. Purchase enough pea gravel to fill the 10 percent.

  • Spread the sand in the patio area. Level the area with a rake and check with carpenter's level. Wet down the sand thoroughly and let set overnight. Recheck the sand to make sure it's level in the morning. Make any necessary adjustments.

  • Lay the flat rocks on the sand starting at one side of the patio area and working across to the opposite end. Gently push the rocks into the sand to stabilize. Check with the level that the rocks are in line with each other. There should be perhaps an inch between rocks. Break larger rocks into smaller pieces if necessary to fill in any major gaps.

  • Fill in the area between the rocks with the pea gravel. Water down the patio area to wash any sand and pea gravel between the landscaping rocks. Enjoy your new patio with your favorite cold drink.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's important to level the rocks as you go and not wait until the patio is finished to avoid any upward or downward unintentional slopes. Rocks need to be level with each other so that one doesn't jut up and cause tripping. If you are buying all the supplies including the rocks, have them delivered. It's worth the extra charge since rocks, sand and pea gravel are heavy.
  • When the patio is next to a building, check that it gently slopes away from the building to avoid drainage problems after rain. Even though the new patio area isn't considered permanent construction, your city or town still may require a building permit.

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  • Everyday Styling; Susie Coelho; 2002
  • Great Ideas for Your Garden; Jane Courtier et al; 2003
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