You Need a Rock Garden to Save Yourself From so Much Yard Work

You Need a Rock Garden to Save Yourself From so Much Yard Work
Photo: Long Lasting Impressions, Shutterstock

While it’s common to incorporate rocks into landscape designs, most of the time it’s in the form of a border around plants or a tree, or creating a path through a yard or garden. But there’s another possibility: You could plan and create a full-on rock garden.

What is a rock garden?

Even if you’re not familiar with the term “rock garden,” you’ve likely seen one. Basically, a rock garden is what it sounds like: a garden planned around rocks that are either part of naturally occurring formations, or are brought in and arranged to look like they’ve always been there, according to GreenMyLife.

According to an article in Garden Design, rock gardens can vary in shape and size:

A rock garden can range from a complex large-scale project with many aspects and layers, to something as simple as a small corner adorned with gravel and river stones. Even a container can become a miniature rock landscape.

Rock gardens can serve a variety of purposes beyond looking nice, including filling in a dry riverbed, defining a slope, and serving as an alternative to a traditional lawn. They are also a good option for areas on a property where the ground may be uneven or damaged in some way.

How rock gardens can save you time and effort

One of the main draws of a rock garden is that they cut down on the time you spend weeding and tending to a piece of land. Think about it: Weeds can’t grow on soil that is covered by a rock. Sure, weeds (and ideally, the plants that you actually want) can grow between the rocks, but that’s kind of the point. And, unlike a traditional lawn made of grass, rock gardens aren’t something you can (or should) mow.

Fewer plants in an area also means won’t need to spend as much time watering and doing other types of yard maintenance. Plus, it saves water — something to consider, given that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that landscape irrigation accounts for nearly one-third of all residential water use in the United States, to the tune of 26 billion liters of water each day.

How to make a rock garden

While rock gardens are low-maintenance and something that’s visible year-round (unless you live in an area where it snows), you can’t just plop a few rocks down and call it a day — the process takes some planning.

According to Garden Design, that involves everything from picking the right site and sketching out the design you’d like to create, to choosing a style of rock garden, such as Japanese, Alpine, or Southwestern. You’ll also need to do some research to figure out what type of plants will grow best in your climate and terrain, and identify the right soil for the project.

Both Garden Design and Old House Online have detailed instructions on how to build and then maintain a rock garden, including plant suggestions.

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