Yard Design Problem Solvers
Container Gardens - Rock Garden

Newsletter #706 Page 1

Landscaping and Garden Design Newsletter
07-06-03 Issue#706
Written by Steve Boulden
Owner of S&S Designed Landscaping,LLC

Welcome to another great issue of your landscape design and gardening newsletter.

This week, in addition to some other tips and tricks, I'm going to let you have a peek at one of the landscaping ideas we're working on right now.

It's far from finished but I figured you'd like to see this as much as the finished product. It could be educational and inspirational. Click the link below to see our current project.
Southwest, Santa Fe style landscape project


  • Landscape Tips - Rock Gardens As Problem Solvers
  • Garden Tips - Container Gardening


LANDSCAPE TIPS - Rock Gardens As Problem Solvers

Xeriscaping, hillsides and slopes, small, seemingly useless, and odd shaped areas were the main topics this last few weeks. While there are a lot of options that apply to each of these issues, there is one that can be applied to all of them.

Rock gardens can be a beautiful "fix it" to a lot of landscaping problems as well as being a center piece or focal point.

Rock gardens, like xeriscaping, are often misunderstood as being a dull and lifeless method of landscape design.

On the contrary, rock gardens can be a beautiful addition to or even theme to almost any area if done right. They also allow you to tastefully use a large number of plants in limited space.

Rock gardens take a little effort and planning, but once they're established they require very little maintenance.

You should use rocks that look natural in your setting and that blend with the rest of your landscape and garden design. Use rocks of the same type for a uniform look. Also, using weathered rocks will give an established, permanent feel to your garden.

Let's look at a few trouble areas and how rock gardens can work to improve them.

SLOPES: Terracing is a common method for creating useful garden space on slopes. However, plain terracing can become uninteresting, dull, and lifeless when using single elements like block or wood walls.

Rock gardens give the opportunity to include the entire surrounding area into the terrace. The retaining walls, upper levels, and even steps winding down through the terraces can be created using all of the same elements.

If the walls aren't too tall and the rocks are of a stackable nature, you can simply dry stack to create the walls and steps. Plants can then be planted in the cracks of walls and steps for a real cool look.

Dry stacking is an old style method of garden fence building that adds a touch of class to almost any garden. You simply stack rocks to lean slightly in to the area they're supporting. There's no use of mortar or cement in dry stacking.

Until I find time to write an article on building landscape walls, you can learn dry stacking and other methods of wall building in an excellent book at the link at the end of this article.

XERISCAPING: The principles of xeriscaping (not zero scaping), are greatly misunderstood by the general public. Xeriscaping is a beautiful way of using "adaptive" and native plants that is simply "water wise".


Rocks and the plants normally used in xeriscaping seem to share a relationship that enhance each other. This makes rock gardening perfect for areas that require conservation of natural resources.

Also some rocks can even help the soil retain moisture. Porous rocks like limestones can hold moisture Nonporous rocks like granite actually cause the soil to dry out quicker.

QUESTIONABLE AREAS: Rock gardens don't require shape, style, or theme to have meaning. They are stand alone, focal elements that should be considered for areas that are left over, odd shaped, or have no place in the rest of the design.

This doesn't mean they'll always work but they should at least be considered.

To discover more about creating rock gardens and the plants that compliment rock gardens, I've included a list of excellent resources below.

Rock Garden Plants

Stone In The Garden - For building walls

More On Page 2 Garden Design Tips #706

  • Garden Tips - Container Gardening

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