How to Install Landscaping Rocks: Tips & Ideas

Botanical garden in backyard

Adding rocks to your landscape is not only easy, but can also naturally enhance and beautify your landscape. Landscaping rocks are also easy to maintain, not as susceptible to general wear and tear, and can provide some functional benefits, including drainage and pest prevention. Rocks also come in many sizes and colors, making them one of the most versatile landscaping options you can add to your front or backyard. 

Despite the many benefits of rocks, these types of landscaping projects can have their own set of challenges. Fortunately, most of these challenges can be avoided by following these four tips. 

Tip #1: Measure First

Measuring tape lies on the grass lawn

One major mistake homeowners make when installing landscaping rocks is failing to understand how many rocks are needed for the project. So, before you purchase any rocks, be sure to measure the area first. You’ll want to measure the length and width of your desired area and then multiply these numbers together to get the total square footage. You’ll also need to calculate how deep (height) you want your rocks. The depth of the rocks will vary depending on the size of the rocks. When shopping for rocks, be sure to look out for the depth recommendations for any rock you consider.

Next, you’ll want to multiply the total square footage by the depth number. The product will be the total volume of rocks you need for your project. If your number needs to be in tons, you’ll need to divide the number you got by 21.6, or, if you need it to be in cubic yards, divide it by 324. 

Knowing just how many landscaping rocks you need will help you avoid overspending and prevent project delays.

Tip #2: Ensure You Prep Your Site

Either before or after you purchase your rocks, you’ll also want to prep your site. Prepping the site involves clearing the area of any grass, plants, or weeds. Next, you should dig out at least three inches of soil and tamp it. Then, dig a six-inch-deep area around the perimeter of the rock bed to lay down landscape fabric. Some people also prefer using landscape edging to provide more definition. You should also spray herbicide to remove any additional vegetation prior to adding the landscape fabric.

Tip #3: Make Sure You Have the Right Tools

When prepping and installing rocks into your landscape, you’ll need an edger, rake, shovel, and hoe. These tools will help you dig and prep the area the right way without disturbing everything else. 

Tip #4: Choose Correct Rock Placement

Image of a designer putting together a simple garden plan

Before starting your project, you’ll also want to have a design in mind. Lifting landscaping rocks can be tiresome, depending on the size, so it’s important you know exactly where you’re placing them. 

In terms of design, remember that you need a base layer of landscape fabric before you install rocks. The landscape fabric will prevent weeds and other vegetation from sprouting in between the rocks, but it will still allow rainwater to penetrate the soil beneath the rocks. Additionally, when you place the rocks, you’ll need to ensure they’re spread out evenly in a two- to three-inch layer. Lastly, you’re planning on adding plants, you’ll need to prepare the landscape fabric before you place your rocks. To prepare your landscape fabric, simply cut a hole in the fabric big enough for your plant to slip into, and then be sure the fabric itself doesn’t touch the stem of your plants. 

Landscaping Ideas That Include Rocks

You can use rocks to execute a wide array of landscaping projects. 

  • Mulch: If you’re creating a garden, you can use landscaping rocks as a mulch substitute. Rocks can improve your garden’s aesthetics while still serving its primary function: keeping weeds and pests away. 
  • Edging: Landscaping rocks can also be used to edge flower beds and walkways.
  • Borders: You can also create beautiful borders around flower beds.
  • Garden Décor: Larger, colored rocks can also be used to create eye-catching areas in a garden. 
  • Xeriscaping: Rocks are also used to complement dry areas and conserve water. These types of designs are usually found in desert-based climates, but can also be used in gardens that contain low-water plants. 

Contact Design One for Landscaping & Stonework Services

Do you want more landscaping tips and ideas? Turn to Design One. Founded over 30 years ago, we’re a fully licensed and insured commercial and residential landscaping company in Michigan. We specialize in hardscape and landscape design, and can help you build the yard of your dreams. Contact us today to learn more.

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