A rockery, or garden featuring a mound of rocks arranged to allow for the growth of certain plants, can create an eye-catching focal point in any landscape. Creating a rockery that looks natural and provides the proper drainage and dry conditions for your plants can be challenging, but with the proper planning and a little know-how, the process should go smoothly. Follow these steps to make your garden rockery.
Things You'll Need
- Spray nozzle
- Garden cart
- Garden stakes
- Garden hoe
- Large rocks
- Long-handled garden fork
- Gardening gloves
- Back brace
Choose a location for your garden rockery. Check to make sure the soil has good drainage, or is positioned so it does not easily retain water. An incline, such as the side of a hill, for example, provides good drainage conditions. Position a garden hose along the ground so it outlines the contours of your desired rockery.
Use a hammer to drive in stakes along the length of the hose. Tie string around the base of the stakes to connect them together and form the shape of your rockery. Remove the hose.
Remove any weeds within the area of your rockery by pulling them up by hand. Use a garden hoe to dig out any deep roots. Also remove any other debris, including leaves, twigs and any rocks you do not want to use in your rockery.
Begin positioning stones in the rockery. Start at the perimeter, or just inside the staked outline of the rockery, and place the largest rocks there. Position smaller and medium-sized rocks in an alternating pattern between the large rocks. Also place medium and smaller rocks in the center of the garden. Level out the ground beneath the stones as necessary, using the back of a trowel or your shovel. This will help secure the rocks in place.
Pour gravel in a 1-inch layer into your rockery to promote water drainage. Spread the layer with the back of your shovel so it evenly covers the entire rockery. Pour on 1 inch of topsoil, and then add a 1-inch-thick layer of compost. Pour in a final 1-inch layer of sand. Smooth out and spread all the layers evenly, using the shovel.
Use a garden hose adjusted to the spray setting to spray the rockery until the layers are fully saturated with water. Give the rockery a week to absorb the water. Push a garden fork through the layers on a daily basis throughout the week, twisting the garden fork to help combine the sand, topsoil and compost layers. Spray the rockery again after the week is over. Allow the layers to soak for one additional week.
Plant a small combination of plants the first year. Combine such plants as small bushes, perennials and ground covers to give your rockery more visual interest. Use plants that require good drainage and thrive in dry conditions. The second year, add more plants to sufficiently fill your garden rockery.
Tips & Warnings
- When determining the outline for your garden rockery, be sure to keep the area small enough to allow you to easily reach across the rockery for weeding and plant care.
- Always wear safety gloves when working with stones to prevent injury.
- Wear a back brace when lifting the larger stones to prevent back strain or more serious injuries.
- Colorado State University Extension; Garden Rock Plants; J.E. Klett, et al.; July 2005
- Washington State University Spokane Extension; Rock Gardens and Rock Garden Plants; Sydney McCrea; Jan. 2005
- "Garden Rockery - How to Make, Plant and Manage Them"; Francis George Heath; 2008
- Photo Credit George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
Types of Landscape Gravel
Gravel is a versatile landscaping tool that works well in driveways, pathways and as ground cover. Landscape gravel comes in many shades...
How to Make Olive Garden Bread Sticks
If you love the bountiful baskets of bread sticks at your neighborhood Olive Garden restaurant, you can make your own delicious Olive...
Making a Flower Bed Into a Rock Garden
Transforming all or part of a flower bed into a rock garden creates visual interest in your yard, whether you want to...
How to to Build a Rockery in Your Backyard
Transform your backyard from a bland collection of everyday plants to something out of the ordinary. Plants and rocks complement one another...