How to create a rock garden: Instructions, tips and ideas for design

You should plan your rock garden early and carefully. In a step-by-step guide, we show you how you can easily create a rock garden yourself, which plants are suitable and give tips on the design and maintenance of your rock garden.

Gardening with strategy: Every stone has its place when creating a rock garden

A rock garden imitates a patch of earth like you find in the mountains. It is, so to speak, a replica of a small alpine landscape in your garden. Typical of the original is a slight slope, facing the sun. Large chunks of stone not only provide shade and partial shade, but also store the sun’s heat and release it to its surroundings long after sunset. To create your own rock garden, you need three main elements:

Gravel and

The low slope of around ten percent is either the result of the naturally sloping conditions in your garden or you have to artificially provide the necessary slope with landfills, for example. At first glance, this seems to be extra work, but the effort is worth it: thanks to the slight inclination, both rain and irrigation water drain off quickly, so that the special rock garden plants do not get their feet wet. They don’t like waterlogging at all.

Our tip: If you don’t have a slope, you can also create a so-called scree garden as an alternative to the classic rock garden. If there is little space, a gravel bed with stony soil and plants that prefer it can be placed. A mini-solution for rock garden lovers would also be a stone bed in the planter.

How to draw a location sketch for creating your rock garden

A sketch is essential for planning your rock garden. There, draw to scale the area you have planned for your rock garden. Record the lighting conditions that will prevail on the selected area. Also think of shadows from buildings and trees.

Also enter the soil quality – and mark the points where the soil quality can or should be improved. You should also mark the places that you want to design with classic rock garden decoration. These include, for example, a staircase, a seat or a small water landscape.

The final step is to include footsteps, paths and paths in your rock garden planning sketch.

How to find the right stones for your rock garden

Stones are the characteristic design tool in the rock garden. You should therefore strategically place the stones, which are visually striking because of their size and / or nature, for your rock garden. The challenge for every rock garden investor will be to follow the natural model of the Alps in a limited garden area.

So leave the rules of formal garden design aside and concentrate on a natural, irregular arrangement (patternless, asymmetrical) of all elements of your rock garden. Contrasts are a good recipe: combine large with small stones, angular with round stones, smooth with rough stones.

Whether your rock garden has space for a boulder weighing tons – this decision is up to you. The rock gardeners are divided on whether the (optically dominant) stones should be of the same type of rock or not. For small rock gardens, it is advised to use only one type of rock so that the appearance is not too restless.

The smaller stones in the rock garden should fit harmoniously with the large eye-catchers. Gravel is common from the following types of rock:

Jurassic limestone
Natural granite

Our tip: Use stones from your region if possible – they come from the same microclimate zone in which your rock garden is created and short transport routes also minimize transport costs. Perhaps you can even save them by picking up your stones from a nearby quarry yourself?

Creating a rock garden – a practical step-by-step guide

The main advantage of a rock garden is that it requires comparatively little maintenance. Provided, of course, that it is set up correctly. In the following we will show you step by step how you can professionally create a rock garden.

How to prepare the reason for your rock garden
You need the right habitat for your rock garden plants to thrive later. In addition to the sun from above and the partial shade of the large stones, this includes a very nutrient-poor, sandy-gravelly soil that is well permeable to water.

So-called drainage is advisable if a slope is not possible or if this is undesirable. With the help of drainage, you can drain backwater in a controlled manner. A special weed fleece saves you tedious weeding in the rock garden from the outset and protects the drainage from clogging by substrate. And a vole wire keeps the voles away from the rock garden.

You should prepare the reason for the rock garden in this order:

Boxing the soil: Lift the soil about 30 to 50 centimeters deep over the entire 1st rock garden area.
If necessary, work out a slope!
2.Remove all roots and weeds from the space created by the removal.
3.Then lay out the vole wire all over the place.
4. If necessary, set up the drainage layer next. 5.Distribute 10 to 20 centimeters of gravel, sand, building rubble and earth in the excavation area. You can create small hills if you wish.
6. Then cover the whole thing with a weed fleece. Make sure that the individual parts of the fleece material overlap sufficiently (at least 10 centimeters are recommended).
7. Finally, there is the soil substrate: Spread a 20 to 30 centimeter high layer of sandy-gravelly topsoil or suitable plant soil from specialist dealers.

How to place the stones in your rock garden

The stones are placed in your rock garden based on your planning sketch. It depends on the size of the stones: First, the large stones come into place. They should be stuck with the largest surface down and up to a third in the ground, then fill any cavities with sand. The coarse drainage material gives the chunk extra hold. If necessary, cut a cross into the weed fleece underneath.

The boulders and Co. are the eye-catchers and anchor points of the entire rock garden arrangement. Then it is the turn of the medium-sized and smaller individual stones. The desired rock garden elements such as a bench, stairs, stone figures and the like follow.

You should then literally let the whole thing sag for a few days. This way, the arranged material can settle in place, possibly under the influence of precipitation.

With these plants you can plant your rock garden in a “species-appropriate” manner
In the rock garden, stones play the main role and plants the secondary role.
Following the example of the Alps, your rock garden now also needs green individual pieces, among them

small trees,
Grasses and
flowering plants.

When choosing the right rock garden plants for you, it depends on the height: You should inform yourself about their height in advance, so that the plants do not cover too much of your rock garden later. You should also consider how much nutrient-rich soil each rock garden plant needs to thrive.

The following list gives you a selection of popular rock garden plants (in brackets: the respective botanical name):

Alpenaster (Aster alpinus)
Alpine balm (Erinus alpinus)
Alpine toadflax (Linaria alpina)
Blue lozenge (Perovskia)
Blue fescue (Festuca cinerea)
Gentian (Gentiana)
Fuchsias (Fuchsia
Carnations (Armeria caespitosa)
Common Lilies (Asphodeline lutea)
Cat’s paw (Antennaria dioica)
Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
Lamp cleaner grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Daffodils (narcissus)
Carnations (Dianthus)
Egret feather grass (Stipa pulcherrima)
Ribbon Flowers (Iberis)
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
Saxifrage (Saxifragia)
Shrub rose (Rosae)
Thyme (thymus)
Quaking grass (Briza minor)
Dwarf pine (Pinus pumila)

How to maintain your rock garden after creating it

The rock garden needs little maintenance, only moderate watering in dry periods (summer and winter) and fertilization. It is largely spared from pests and diseases. However, you should weed regularly, especially in spring and summer. Young plants planted in spring and early summer are particularly difficult to compete with weeds. You should also remove withered plant parts as soon as they occur.

Important: Remove moss from the ground as soon as it shows up – it could suffocate your rock garden plants.

Your rock garden stands! Now you need an optical bridge to the less rocky rest of the garden? You can build them out of stone with the appropriate garden paths.

Thank you for visiting our site, take a look around our site, we have many other interesting articles about the garden.

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