How to Landscape with Rock

large rock next to bush and bench in garden

Landscaping with rock is a great way to add character to a yard that is either very shaded or does not lend itself well to growing plants. Rocks can also be combined with flowers, shrubs, succulents, and trees as inorganic mulch. No matter how you use them, stones are an eco-friendly solution that saves water, reduces yard maintenance, and minimizes fertilizer use. Here’s more information about how to landscape with rock.

Designing a Rocky Landscape

Here are some garden ideas with rocks and stones:

  • Mulch substitute: Gravel may be more expensive than wood mulch, but it offers several benefits. Longevity is a major reason to opt for rocks, which are sure to last the lifetime of your garden. The pale colour of stone also provides a striking contrast with the foliage of your shrubs and flowers.
  • Flower bed edging: Whether you build a raised stone border or simply lay rocks around the edge of your flower beds, stone edging anchors your plantings and gives them a sense of permanence. This is particularly beautiful if your home has a stone façade.
  • Rock garden: Dedicate a space in your yard to include boulders surrounded by smaller river rocks and low-lying flowers, such as ground orchids, portulaca, or decorative cactus. This lends an eye-catching combination of neutral-coloured stones and colourful foliage to your property with much less maintenance than a traditional flower garden.
  • Pebble border: You might choose to surround your deck, patio, or fence with a few feet of rocks before transitioning to the lawn. This is the ideal place to set up a container garden for an added pop of colour without taking up precious square footage on your deck.
  • Xeriscape: Xeriscaping is designed to conserve water by replacing the traditional lawn with desert-dwelling plants. Small stones and large boulders make the ideal ground cover for drought-tolerant succulents, ornamental grasses, and cacti.

Installing Rocks in Your Landscape

Once you decide how you want to arrange the rocks in your garden, get the best possible results by following these tips:

  • Prepare the area: Remove any grass, weeds, or other existing plants—roots and all—where you plan to install rocks. Consider spraying herbicide to kill any remaining vegetation. Wait at least two weeks for the herbicide to take full effect.
  • Line the ground: Lay down landscape fabric to prevent weeds from growing through the rocks. This step also reduces erosion so the stones don’t sink into the soil. Overlap the ends of each fabric strip by 3 to 6 inches, and anchor down the edges with U-shaped garden staples.
  • Plant wisely: If you’re incorporating plants, cut a large X in the landscape fabric and pin the flaps back before planting into the soil beneath.
  • Lay the rock: Once all your plants are in the ground, install the gravel, pebbles, river rocks, boulders, or other decorative stones you’re using. Then, stand back and admire the rocky landscape you’ve created!

Want to show off your new rock features at night? Choose The Grounds Guys® to install landscape lighting on your property. We can transform your outdoor space after dark with post lights, string lights, garden lights, and more.

Contact us today for a free job estimate. Then, find Zen in your rock garden with a new pergola. The carpentry services from Mr. Handyman are just what you need to make your backyard complete!

Did you know? The Grounds Guys is a Neighbourly company. Learn more about Neighbourly’s community of home service experts at