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How To Build Your Own Rock Garden

Updated on July 25, 2014

What Is A Rock Garden?

Rock Gardens have been a historical feature within the landscapes of human culture for millenniums. It seems that many people are passionate towards the natural beauty and the bewildering uniqueness of the creation of many different types of stones. Some Rock Gardens have been made by piling stones of all shapes and sizes in an area of their yard. Other types use the rocks merely for a border surrounding different plants and flowers. Learning how to build your own Rock Garden can be easily accomplished in a few simple steps. Style and design are limited only by the imagination in your Rock Garden creation.

How To Build Your Own Rock Garden

Finding The Right Rocks

If your property is like mine then you will have no problem finding rocks. My property is littered with numerous stones just beneath the surface which makes the land a nightmare to try to farm. The rocks can be damaging to the farm equipment and therefore must be removed and stockpiled along the edge of the field. Over the years many previous owners of my land have been removing the stones and piling them up so I have plenty of rocks to choose from. However, not everyone is as fortunate as me and therefore must find rocks at other locations.

Many country property owners such as myself also have huge piles of unwanted stones that they would likely give away to those who asked for them. Another place to find rocks is out in the country around river and creek beds and especially in mountainous terrain. One can often gather a few rocks from such places without encountering any problems from the local authorities. If there is any concern about gathering rocks from public lands then a quick check with the local municipal lands and forestry office in the area will provide all the information that you need.

Rock Garden

Build your own Rock Garden.
Build your own Rock Garden.

Old Fire Pit

Turning an old fire pit into a Rock Garden.
Turning an old fire pit into a Rock Garden.

Step One

Decide where in your yard you would like to have the garden and prepare the area. If you have a location in your lawn where grass does not like to grow and the area always looks baron, that would be an ideal location. I put my Rock Garden in a spot that previously had a fire pit. I cleaned up all the wood ash and chard wood pieces and removed the topsoil [about 1 inch] down to clean earth. After skimming the ground about an inch below the grass of my lawn to rid it of any contaminants from the fire pit I brought in a tiller and began to work up the area. Tilling the earth will make the ground easier to work when planting flowers and also give the newly transplanted greenery a chance to get re-rooted with less struggle.

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Tilling the Soil

Till up the ground for easy working.
Till up the ground for easy working.

Making a Grove

A trench for the rocks to set in.
A trench for the rocks to set in.

Setting Rocks

Set the stones so that they lay naturally against each other.
Set the stones so that they lay naturally against each other.

Step Two

After tilling the soil well to a depth of six to eight inches I like to make a slight grove in the ground around the perimeter of the Rock Garden for the stones to set in. This partially embeds the rocks giving them a firm foundation so that they can not be easily moved out of place when working around them while performing future yard duties. After the trench around the garden is prepared I simply select my rocks and set them in the grove. I like to orient the stones in a manor that they naturally want to lay against one another so that they wrap together tightly. I just set a selected rock beside the previously chosen stone already set and rotate it until it seems to fit nicely against the other.

Step Three

Once the rocks are in place I begin to plant my flowers. In this particular Rock Garden I have chosen to transplant a Blackberry Lily that needed to be relocated from another area of my yard. I dug up the Lily in one big clump and then separated it into smaller pieces by pulling the bound up roots apart. After splitting up the plant I selected the most healthy portions and discarded the appearing weaker stems that likely would not survive the transplant process. Then I decided on an attractive orientation for the layout of the plants I had chosen and dug small holes in the freshly tilled bed for the Lily stems to set in.

Separating the Plant

Splitting the Lilly into healthy stems.
Splitting the Lilly into healthy stems.

Final Step

After digging the holes and setting all of your plants in a decorative orientation you may want to put some ornamental items in your Rock Garden. I choose to put some solar lights in my garden but the choice is endless for what things you might put in your Rock Garden. Let your imagination be your guide. Remember to water your newly transplanted greenery daily for the first while until they appear to have taken root in their new bed. Your plants should be doing well within a couple of weeks. Give this project a try in your own yard its both fun and rewarding.

Solar Lights for Ornamentation

Beautify your Rock Garden with Solar lights.
Beautify your Rock Garden with Solar lights.

Questions or Comments?

I welcome all your questions and comments as well as any suggestions or ideas of your own. Please contact me through any of my links with any input that you desire to contribute. I enjoy hearing from everyone.

Thank you

How To Pam

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Pam you are the coolest girl!! Thank you for taking the time to teach us, it's super valuable information.

      I wish you the best!

      Big hug !8)

    • Pamela Bush profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you MsDora for your kind words.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for your suggestions building a rock garden. Your instructions are very helpful, and altogether a great presentation. Practical and beautiful!

    • Pamela Bush profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you FlourishAnyway for your comment and for following me. I try to post some unusual things pertaining to my new way of living endeavor. It is a challenge that I have for years desired to explore. No more hundred thousand dollar mortgages. Just living off the land.


    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I have wanted to do this and put a bird bath in the middle. I like your addition of solar lights.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      4 years ago from USA

      My husband built two in the yard where we used to live. We built them 3 big rocks high. Lifting those big rocks wasn't fun. Of course he didn't keep the garden small either. Our only problem was planting one near a maple tree.

      The roots from the tree grew up into the garden. Otherwise the plants did really well.

    • Pamela Bush profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Hi Xinyang. Making small rock gardens around the yard can be a very economical way of adding a little scenery. This particular rock garden is replacing the damaged lawn area where the old fire pit was located. I chose the rock garden option rather than digging up the soil and adding new soil and then planting grass or laying sod.

      Thank you for watching.


    • Xinyang Zhang profile image

      Xinyang Zhang 

      4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      This is great! I have a garden which I never worked in. Well some day maybe I will. These are great tips I can use. Thanks.


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