How to create a rockery garden

How to create a beautiful rockery garden

When you think of gardens, do you picture sweet-scented flowers, emerald green shrubs, and vibrant native plants? Or perhaps you think of rows of beans and carrots and corn. Rocks, however, are not typically the first things that come to mind.

But rock gardens are equally beautiful, fun to build, last forever, and their design options are only limited to your boundless creativity. Rockery gardens are just like they sound—arrangements of rocks of various sizes, typically complemented with plants and flowers. The rock materials come in all shapes and sizes and their earthy colors lend a close connection to nature.

In addition to rugged beauty, rocks provide a subtle calming effect belying their reputation as simply heft culled from underground. Mix in water features, moss, sand, and colorful river rock and you can create a veritable sanctuary of inspiration.

How to build a rockery garden

Before you start, keep in mind that rockeries tend to best suit alpine plants like tulips primrose, low shrubberies, and other petite flora. Once you have a plant selection established, it’s time to build. It will be a great help to have all materials at hand for convenient access as well as visual reference to what particular rock will look good right over there.

Location, location, location

Before doing anything, decide where you want the rockery to reside. Consider soil conditions, contour or slope of the existing land, and distance to haul all those rocks.

Can you dig it?

Plan to dig down about one foot to eliminate all weeds and renegade roots which will love to grow right up through your new rock collection. Put down layers of sand and soil conducive to drainage and plant growth.

Start with a solid base

Think river rock for an attractive and sturdy base. Their natural shapes seamlessly bond to form a solid and cohesive base layer, and they come loaded with color and character.

It’s time to rock

This is the fun part. Eyeball where you think specific rocks will look the best. Dig larger boulders to about one-third of their size for a more natural look. Design a border with smaller boulders or line up a bunch of small rocks on the edge of your river rock base. Terracing adds another engaging element to a rockery and allows plantings of various sizes for a gorgeous final product.

For more tips on creating beautiful rockery gardens, contact Tigard Sand and Gravel at (503) 692-1800 or