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Are you looking to add a unique new feature to your outdoor space? Rock gardens are a fantastic way to transform any backyard, but how can you add one to a small space? Thankfully, these beautiful additions can fit into almost any area, and unlike plants and floral arrangements, require very little maintenance.

If you are looking to add a rock garden to your home, we have taken a closer look at the methods and tools required to create a stunning and eye-catching feature.

What Is A Rock Garden?

Before we look at how to build a rock garden, we thought we would first examine what these beautiful features are. Sometimes referred to as a rockery, they are a great way to create a unique and distinctive space, highlighting certain alpine plants and stones.

They can be as little or as large as you like and are a great way to create a sense of tranquillity in the hustle and bustle of life.

Essential Tools For Building a Rock Garden

Building a rock garden can be a very simple process, and with enough time, anyone will be able to create a beautiful space. When it comes to building your feature, you will simply need a shovel, wheelbarrow, and garden trowel.

You will also need an array of stones in various different sizes, soil as required, and any plants that you are looking to add.

How To Build A Rock Garden

Once you have been able to gather your tools, rocks, and plants, it is time to start building your rock garden. We have taken a closer look at the steps needed to create your perfect feature, no matter the size of the space you have available.

1) Build The Foundation

The first stage of developing your rock garden is to build the foundation. To do this, you should clear the area of any organic material such as plants and flowers, as well as removing any grass. When digging up these plants, make sure that you are completely removing the entire structure, going below the roots to ensure that they do not reappear and ruin the appearance of your new garden.

Once you have completely cleared the area you are going to be building your rock garden in, it is time to start placing your stones. When doing this, place them in a circle around the perimeter, ensuring a diameter of around four feet (although you can increase or decrease this depending on the available space).

This perimeter will form the foundation of your garden and will help to create some different layers of elevation. When placing your stones, utilize the largest and most unattractive rocks as the base, as this will ensure your top layers are the most attractive.

Once you have placed your stones, fill the inside area with sandy soil, as this will help to ensure maximum drainage. If your soil is quite clay-heavy, then consider adding compost down at this stage.

2) Build On Your Foundation

Once you have placed your foundation, it is time to start building the second layer. This could be as simple as adding a smaller version of your foundation, creating a smaller circle inside the larger one, or establishing higher bands of stone that go through both the center and bed perimeter.

When creating this second layer, make sure that you are leaving enough room to add any plants, especially between the perimeter and the second course of stones. The rocks you add at this level are usually going to be lighter, and as they are going to be more visible, you should ensure that you are choosing the most attractive.

3) Choose The Plants For Your Rock Garden

Now you have your layers established; it is time to start selecting the plants that you are going to be adding. To do this, you should first decide on the color scheme that you are going to incorporate. This should be based not only on your existing garden colors, but also on the stones that you have chosen. For example, if your rock garden is primarily consisting of red sandstone rocks, then you should try to incorporate flowers that contain hints of red in them.

When choosing your plants, make sure that you are opting for flowers that are suitable for use in well-drained soil. You also want to ensure that the plants that you choose require similar levels of sunlight and watering, as this will make maintaining your rock garden far easier. To create the very best visuals, opt for flowers that offer different leaf textures and heights.

4) Plant Your Rock Garden

With your plants chosen, the final stage to building your dream rock garden is to start planting them. The first thing that you should do is arrange the plants while they are still in their pots, as this will allow you to easily move them around as required.

When planting them, try to aim to keep them in groups of three, interspersing them amongst the rocks. Once you have found the perfect layout, start planting your flowers, and add any additional soil that you might require.

When adding your plants, don’t forget to add additional stones as decoration as you go. For any exposed areas, you can also add small stones of a similar style to prevent weeds and other plants from growing through.

Sample Rock Garden Design

Looking to add a rock garden to your home? We know how difficult it can be to start, which is why we have put together a sample design for a small feature garden. This example covers an array of colors, plants, and textures and requires:

  • Six pots of Scotch Moss
  • One Yellow Daffodil
  • Three pots of Wood Spurge
  • Three pots of Hens and Chickens
  • Three pots of Snow-in-Summer
  • One Lamb’s Ear Plant
  • Three pots of Candytuft

These flowers will cover an array of beautiful and eye-catching colors, and will bloom in the spring and early summertime. However, if you want to ensure your rock garden blooms throughout the summer months, then consider adding annual plants such as Portulacas into the mix.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to creating the ultimate rock garden, make sure that you take your time in finding the right rocks and flowers. This will help make the building process much smoother, ensuring that you are able to create a beautiful and eye-catching finish that will transform any space, no matter how big or small that might be.

If you are unsure about your rock layout, try positioning the rocks in various formats before committing, or speak with your local garden center who will be able to help you create the perfect rock garden.