How to Create Your Own Rock Garden

rock garden with potted plants

If it’s time to renew your landscape, rock gardens make a beautiful and creative addition to your yard. These typically consist of a mix of rocks, boulders, sand, gravel, and whatever other ornaments and vegetation you choose to add.

For those with an artistic eye, a variety of materials can be implemented to create a sort of 3-D collage. Stone sculptures, bits of wood, and old pieces of glass or pottery can make fun and colorful additions to the display.

Rock gardens are a great way to add height, texture, and color to areas of your yard that may not be ideal for planting grass. The three main concerns with this project are placement, materials, and plants that will thrive in a rocky terrain. Let’s take a closer look at these considerations.

Step 1: Choose an area for your Rock Garden

Of course, the very first step for your rock garden idea is choosing the perfect spot. A dry and sunny area may be ideal, as the rock garden will likely need minimal hydration.

Be sure you’ve cleared the area of weeds, as well as any other unwanted vegetation or debris. Rock gardens can be a stand-alone feature in your yard, or they can be integrated into pre-existing landscaping. One example of this concept is implementing a rock garden as  a border around a fountain, tree, or flower bed.

Step 2: Prepare the Materials

Once you’ve established a chosen area, you’ll want to prepare your materials. As we mentioned, sand, rocks, boulders, and gravel are the building blocks for a rock garden. But you don’t need to use both sand and gravel if you’d rather not.

pretty rocks for rock garden

Make sure you pick rocks and stones of a size and color that you find pleasing and amenable to the terrain and colors of your lawn. Some like their rock gardens to look uniform, while others prefer a variety of shapes and earthtones.

It’s important to make sure the rocks you’re using are fairly clean, to avoid the spread of mold, grub worms, or other unwanted intruders. If you’re using sand or small gravel, make sure you also pick plants that will thrive in finely textured ground cover.

Step 3: Choose the Plants for Your Rock Garden

The plants you choose for your rock garden ought to be somewhat resistant to both heat and drought. Cacti and other succulents make an easy choice because they’re great at retaining moisture.

If you prefer smaller, softer vegetation, there are several varieties of ivy and other creeping plants that fare well in rocky environments. For a low-maintenance splash of green, you may also consider planting some moss on the rocks themselves.

Step 4: Bring you Rock Garden to Life

Once you’ve chosen your location and materials, it’s time to start setting things up. Some choose a pre-existing structure in their yard, such as a large boulder or an old tree stump. As mentioned before, any larger object, plant, or structure in your yard is a great centerpiece for a rock garden. But it’s perfectly fine to start from scratch.

Do you want to encircle a flower bed with a crescent of stones, or would you rather create an organic design that sits alone? Just be sure you lay down the larger structures first, and plant your vegetation before adding sand, mulch, or other ground cover.

Any inorganic structures, such as a sculpture or a glass bottle, should be added last. That way, the plants can grow around them as the garden matures. This tip is especially effective for creeping or spreading plant life like ivy or moss.

Step 5: Take Care of your Creation

As with any other landscaping project, your rock garden will need regular care. If you’ve planted something leafy, be sure you prune it as needed. Water it adequately if you’ve chosen plants that need moderate hydration. Keep the area clear of weeds and debris. Ask a professional if you’ve got questions about how to sustain your landscape from one season to the next. 


  • Choose an area where your rock garden will work best with your landscape. Consider the overall layout of your yard and how you’d like to enhance the aesthetics.
  • Prepare your materials for the project. Do you want large boulders? Multi-colored rocks? An old tree stump? Get everything ready before you dive in.
  • Choose the plants that will work best with your other rock garden materials. Keep in mind where you’re placing it, so you can select foliage that works well with the amount of sun, shade, and water that area receives.
  • Bring it to life! Lay out all your rocks and stones, set your plants into the ground, and then add any non-organic decorations you’ve chosen (e.g. glass bottles, pots, sculptures).
  • Take care of your new creation. Keep it clean and follow the care instructions appropriate for whatever vegetation you’ve planted. ENJOY!

Rock gardens are one of the most creative ways to enhance your outdoor space, because such a broad variety of materials can be used. The size, shape, and overall composition are completely up to you and your imagination. With this project, you can literally create a living, growing collage in your yard.


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