The first garden I ever designed was a rock garden I planted for my mother on Mother’s Day. I read about it in a magazine and thought it would be something my Mom might enjoy looking at it through our kitchen window. I won’t say that it was much of a success, but it was this burst of creativity that helped fuel my love of gardening and maybe creating a rock garden is a project that you want to consider too.
There are many reasons you might build a rock garden on your property. Sometimes a rock garden can be just the thing you need to solve a difficult terrain issue. For example, if you have a slope or hillside on your property erosion can be a real problem and a rock garden could be just the thing to solve it. An increasingly popular motive for installing a rock garden in many areas of the country is as a low maintenance alternative to a grass lawn. It can lower your water bill as well as eliminate a lot of the work that comes maintaining all that turf!
In my mind, the classic rock garden is one that is on a slope or hillside. If that is the terrain you are working with then you’ll want to think about whether or not you want to use terraces as part of your design. Terraces help address erosion issues and bring stability to the hillside. They can be created with materials such as railroad ties or retaining walls, but you can create a more natural look by using larger rocks that may already be on site. Additionally, you’ll want to consider if a path or stairs that will allow better access to the garden as well as connect areas at the top and bottom of the slope is needed.
Once you have settled on a design the next step to consider is what plants you want to use in your garden. Your choices are often dictated by where you live as much as the terrain itself. For example, if you live in the mountains than you are likely to experience sunny, windy and even drought conditions during the summer as well as snowy and cold winters. Alpine plants such as small evergreens and low growing plants that don’t need a lot of water are going to be good choices for your garden. If you live in the southwestern United States than you’ll want to emphasize cactus and succulents. If you want a garden with an Asian flair you might put thought into colors, textures, and the heights of your plants. Finally, rock gardens will typically need some additional color during certain periods of the growing season so don’t forget to plant some annual flowers as well. Petunias, Portulaca, Vinca, Sweet Alyssum and Dianthus are good choices for rock gardens.
Regardless of the reason, you install your rock garden or what plants you use in it I promise it will provide all season interest and beauty that you will enjoy for years to come. If you already have a rock garden why not share some photos and any tips you may have on our Facebook page. Now go rock on!
Photo Courtesy Of Jill Mazur.