9 Types of Landscaping Rocks That Add Natural Beauty to Your HomeShawn
Plenty of green, well-watered grass is probably what most of us think of first when it comes to beautiful landscaping, but the truth is that designing an attractive lawn can stretch far beyond the grass. Incidentals such as plants, bushes, and mulch can help break up the monotony and add character to the property. Landscaping rocks, however, are among the most interesting ingredients you can add to the aesthetic stew that is your lawn. The great thing about rocks is that they require very little maintenance. You don’t have to water them, and you don’t have to worry about protecting them through the harsh months of winter. You can set them and forget them, like the old infomercial promised. And when you’ve got a job, a family, and innumerable responsibilities, something you don’t have to worry about always sounds lovely.
Which Landscaping Rocks Are Right For You?
When determining which types of landscaping rocks to use in your environment, it helps to have an idea about the effect you wish to achieve. If you’re looking for a southwestern theme, you’ll want entirely different rocks than if you’re going for an Asian-inspired landscape. You’ll also want to consider exactly how you’ll use the rocks. Will they be standalone decorations, or will they be used to fill the bottom of a small river display? Here are some of the important things to consider when choosing your landscaping rocks:
Color – Landscaping rocks come in just about every shade under the sun – from brightly colored pebbles that resemble the bottom of an aquarium, to towering gray boulders that can fit into any environment with their resolute neutrality. If you want to brighten up your environment but don’t want to indulge in unnatural colors, white marbles and stones can use their natural reflectiveness to harness the rays of the sun.
Size – Just as they come in many colors, landscaping rocks come in many different sizes as well. From small river rocks down to pebbles. From heavy slate pieces to monumental stones that will act as centerpieces to whatever look you’re trying to complete. Larger rocks may look absurd in a setting too small to properly showcase them. Smaller rocks may have too insignificant an effect if you have a lot of busy decoration drawing attention away from them.
Popularity – This is a factor that could go in either direction, depending on your personal tastes. Some people live for trends, always trying to make sure that their landscaping (as well as their interior decoration scheme) reflects the cutting edge of homeowner culture. Others eschew conformity; they want to achieve a look that will stand out precisely because it is unpopular.
Your Home’s Existing Style – The name of the game with landscaping is to create a seamless, flowing environment that accentuates your house without drawing attention away from it. A nice garden will, of course, be a point of interest for visitors, but if it clashes badly with the existing décor, it may not invite the praise you expect. Contemporary homes call for contemporary landscaping, and that maxim extends to the rocks you use.
Now that we know a bit more about why we might choose one type of landscaping rock over another, let’s head straight to the main event – the many types of landscaping rocks you can use to bring warmth, beauty, and tranquility to your property.
9 – River Rocks
Pound for pound, there may be no more popular choice when it comes to landscaping. River rocks are smooth and small, and they bring with them a number of advantages. For instance – are you interested in reducing the amount of water you use to keep your lawn green? Perhaps you’re trying to lower your water bill, or maybe you’re being forced to comply with local water regulations. Either way, river rocks can be used to replace some of your grass while maintaining the look of a designed, well-kept property. Not only will they have an immediate effect on how much water you need to keep the lawn green, but they will also help cut down on the amount of mowing you have to do. And if you’re still out there with a push mower in the hot summer months, you know how precious that benefit really is!
Pro Tip: Don’t get too homogeneous when using landscaping rocks to beautify your exterior. Too much sameness can overwhelm the look you’re trying to achieve unless you have some outstanding plants that you want to showcase against the bland background.
8 – Lava Stones
Lava stones are exactly what they claim to be – dried lava from ancient volcanoes. These stones are not uncommon in the American west, where volcanic activity was violent and frequent thousands of years ago. They have left their mark, and you can use these relics to liven up your landscape.
Some lawn professionals refer to these stones as a kind of “permanent mulch” that won’t need to be replaced every year. If you’re looking for an attractive and striking way to reduce weeds and cut down on the insect population in your yard, lava rocks may be the answer you’re looking for. They are a bit more expensive than the equivalent amount of mulch, but you should wind up ahead financially in the long run.
Pro Tip: Even if you’re determined to get that “desert” feeling for your landscape, don’t make the mistake of excluding plants entirely. You may love your rocks, but without some plant life to break up the monotony, the effect can be overwhelming. A few soft, colorful plants here and there can bring your landscaping together.
7 – Boulders
If you really want to make a splash with your landscaping rocks…go big! Like, really big. Boulders are an exceptional way to add value and taste to your property. Not only do boulders reflect the natural beauty of the world, they are a low-maintenance pathway to a lovely garden or a central landscaping focal point. They aren’t cheap, of course, and you’ll almost certainly need to hire a professional for the placement of the boulders. Still, if you want an instant method of landscaping improvement that ups your home’s curb appeal, there are few better choices. You can also use boulders to draw attention to certain lawn features; this is especially effective if you have a small pond or a memorial space for a lost loved one.
Pro Tip: When arranging large rocks or boulders, take nature into account. In other words, you don’t want to impose human-created concepts (like straight lines) that steal from the natural effect you’re trying to achieve.
6 – Brick Chips
Brick chips are a common substitute for volcanic rocks, lending a garden plot a similar reddish-brown look and serving much the same purpose: An alternative to traditional wood mulch. Like lava rocks, brick chips are ecologically friendly and won’t attract insects such as termites to the environment. In most cases, the crushed bricks are made from recycled material, making them an excellent option for anyone concerned about protecting the climate.
As with other forms of crushed rocks and mulch, brick chips provide an easy way to cut down on weeds and showcase the bushes and plants you want to stand out. If your current landscaping scheme complements the reddish hue, brick chips are a wonderful addition to the garden.
Pro Tip: Make a plan before buying your rocks. The more preparation – measurements, plant purchases, etc. – you do beforehand, the more you can tailor your rock order to match your specifications.
5 – Pea Gravel
Pea gravel, named for the tiny size of the stones, is one of the most-used landscaping rocks. You’ll find these stones at museum installations, public parks, and city gardens just as frequently as you’ll find them in home applications. There’s a reason for the popularity of pea gravel; not only does it make an interesting and crunchy kind of walkway, it is an immensely versatile way to fill in spaces between pavers and mulch empty gardens. The only downside is that pea gravel has a tendency to escape its “area,” so if you’re planning to put some down, make sure you separate it carefully from the surrounding lawn with a nice barrier – perhaps one made out of stone or cement!
Pro Tip: If using boulders for your landscaping, dig a hole before setting the boulder down in its proper place. Natural boulders are always at least partially under the surface; by following nature’s example, you’ll create a more natural look.
4 – Marble Rocks
Nothing says elegance and wealth like the use of marble. Whether you opt for something tasteful like a kitchen cabinet or something completely opulent like foyer columns, marble can always be used to convey that unmistakable aura of wealth. But marble isn’t limited to its use in building interior decoration schemes; it can also be used to transform your landscaping.
Now, marble isn’t without its drawbacks. Be careful when using it as a base for your plants because marble rocks and chips can raise the alkalinity of the soil below. Over time, that alkaline can make it difficult for your plants to thrive and grow on schedule. However, you can still use marble as an edging material while rooting your plants in a soil alternative that won’t be affected in a negative way by the rocks.
Pro Tip: By using landscape fiber, netting, or even newspaper underneath your rocks, you can inhibit weed growth and keep your rocks looking beautiful.
3 – Beach Pebbles
Sometimes you’ll find these rocks being marketed under the moniker of Mexican beach pebbles, and sometimes you’ll find them without the nationality attachment, but in most cases, stone outlets are referring to the same rocks. These are an excellent alternative to gravel and river rocks if you don’t like the way those look in your landscaping. These rocks are also much easier to walk over in bare feet, so that can be a consideration if you have kids or if you like to walk around your property without shoes. Beach pebbles also fit more loosely together on the ground, allowing more of the natural atmospheric air to get through the cracks. This is beneficial when it comes to avoiding the spread of moss and other moisture-induced growth.
Pro Tip: Many of the landscaping rocks on our list are virtually maintenance-free, but if you notice that they’ve lost their gleam, simply spray them down well with water from the hose. This will remove the surface dirt and restore the natural luster of the rocks.
2 – Decorative Gravel
If you think gravel is too pedestrian to serve your landscaping needs, think again. This easy-to-install option comes in an array of sizes and colors, giving you access to an almost unlimited palette of design schemes. If you have the means (or a company to help you out), you can pour gravel into an appropriate area in less than an hour, making this the right choice for anyone who is struggling to find the time (or the money) to improve their landscape.
Gravel requires very little maintenance, and you don’t have to worry about staining or sealing it when you put it in. As long as you keep up your weed-killing routine, you’ll have a beautiful installation that will practically last forever.
Pro Tip: Nothing goes together with landscaping rocks better than a beautiful water feature, so if you’re looking to transform your landscape in a major way, consider adding in a fountain or a shallow pond.
1 – Flagstone
If you’re looking to use landscaping rocks to create a walkway or a patio, you might think about the attractive and low-maintenance sedimentary rock known as flagstone. No two pieces of this material ever look quite the same, so you can create a patio with real character. If you’re looking for a way to ensure that your home stands out from the others on the block, flagstone can give your landscaping the kind of unique aesthetic quality that is difficult to achieve with more traditional pavers. If there is a disadvantage, it’s that it can be difficult to create a completely-even and flat walkway with these stones, so if you’re concerned with tripping hazards, you may want to think about another material.