landscaping with rocks

4 Tips on Landscaping with Rocks

Here are a few guidelines you’ll want to consider to make your garden look natural

When it comes to landscaping with rocks here are four design suggestions to make your project work.

Bigger is Better

The first is that bigger is better. Yeah, I know it ‘s a cliche but the rule of thumb in my old landscaping when I built a rock garden was that if I could pick it up easily — it was too small. If I had to use my tractor, it was getting to the right size.

What you ‘ll find is that a lot of small rocks here and there simply look “busy”. Take a look at any pro-landscapes and you’ll see they seldom (if ever) use small rocks.

More is Less

This falls into the rule above because when we ‘re landscaping with rocks we use fewer and larger stones than smaller and more.

Again, if you can pick them up easily — they won ‘t make a statement in the garden but rather just add a sense of too-much

landscaping with rocks - this is all man made
Yes, it’s man-made. Image by author

Naturalized Landscaping With Rocks

One of the reasons folks use rocks in the landscape is to make the garden look “more natural”. Take a look at any natural area and the first thing you‘ll see is the small rocks are almost always covered over with either soil or vegetation.

They seldom just “sit there” on the surface. And they seldom just sit there in an area that‘s not an alpine garden.

What you see are the larger rocks — the ones you can ‘t carry.


There are “rocks” and there are “rocks”. If you ‘re going to have rocks in your garden — do you want them to look natural or do you want them to look interesting and sculptural?

This is a serious question because a lot of rocks scattered here and there looks busy and un-natural. (Hint: if you really have to use a lot of smaller stones, then put them very close together (as in touching) so they look more natural but don’t scatter them randomly through the garden.

A single rock — an interesting shaped or colored rock — can be a sculptural element and stands by itself.

This speaks to the notion of garden design — is the design to be sculptural or is to be natural looking.

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Bottom line On Landscaping With Rocks:

Assuming we’re not landscaping with rocks to create an alpine garden — the rules of thumb are to use single stones that are “interesting” or multiple large stones that add a landscaping value and look natural.

I note that a single large rock dumped into the middle of a front yard doesn’t look natural nor sculptural. It simply looks lonely surrounded by it‘s obligatory bed of annuals and a few evergreens.

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