How To Use Landscaping Rocks to Create Your Perfect Oasis at Home

Stone steps built into a backyard with boulders and landscape rocks accenting the design.

The Ultimate Guide on How to Do Great Landscaping with Rocks

Have you ever walked around your yard and wondered how much of a difference landscaping rocks could make? Until you see the results you can achieve with that rock, it can be hard to imagine what it will do for your yard.

When you do see the results, though, we are confident you’ll love the look of your natural landscaping stone. You also will appreciate how much easier yard maintenance can be once they’ve been put in place.

Here, we’ll briefly discuss the types of landscaping rocks and then go into their benefits. We’ll also discuss a few eccentricities of landscaping stones that have drawn comments in various circles.

Types of Landscaping Rocks and Stones

Landscaping rocks come in all shapes and sizes – from small, colorful river stones to huge landscaping boulders. There’s no limit to the choices you’ll have for both your front yard and back yard.

A quick search of landscape rock near me will reveal that it’s not expensive, at roughly $600-650/sq yd for various gravel types. But it’s an investment, nonetheless. That’s why we recommend working with a landscaping expert when redoing your yard with landscaping stones.

Someone who knows by instinct when to use crushed granite vs. lava rock vs. river rocks can make a tremendous difference in how your landscaping project turns out. The type of stone you choose can even affect the level of moisture in your landscaping.

Why Choose Landscaping Rock for Your Yard?

The number and range of benefits to using landscaping stones for your front or back yard might surprise you. They’re not only decorative but also functional in ways most people don’t realize. Let’s start with what’s familiar and move on from there.

Landscaping Aesthetics

Perhaps the most significant reason people do their landscaping with rocks is their ability to transform a property’s look. Landscaping stones can frame and subtly separate your plantings, so they stand out.

Landscaping rocks come in many colors, yet virtually all of them have shades that are neutral enough to highlight green leaves and brightly colored flowers, berries, as well as small creatures, like birds and insects, that land on them.

Landscaping stones are both arrangeable and malleable. Rocks and landscaping boulders can be chiseled into various shapes and sizes, and smaller stones can be arranged in particular patterns, such as circles or abstract forms.

Finally, if you live in a climate with harsh weather for at least part of the year, landscaping stones hold their own year-round. Just imagine snow-covered landscaping boulders in winter or colorful pebbles brightening an arid desert setting.


Yes, rocks are incredibly durable since they have existed for eons! In fact, you might spot a fossil or two among the stones you use in your landscaping project.

It’s also hard to do much damage to a stone, especially a large one. We’ve seen small stones get thrown by lawnmowers without suffering any damage. We’ve also seen stones last through sandblasting to remove paint and other unwanted substances.

Another benefit of landscaping rock is that it can act as a mulch. It won’t decompose and need replacing, as wood mulch does.


Another reason to use landscaping stones in your yard is the time and effort they will save you on maintenance. For one thing, they take up acreage you otherwise would need to mow. And they beautify that space.

You know, don’t you, that less mowing will leave more time to sit back and enjoy your back-yard landscaping from the comfort of your patio or deck?

Redoing your yard with rocks has another benefit: fewer insects. Stones often replace wood mulch, which tends to draw bugs of various types. Not much about stones interests these tiny creatures – except the desire of some to hide underneath.

Another type of “pest” that landscaping stones help curtail is weeds. It’s hard for weeds to grow through stone, but sometimes a few work their way around larger rocks or between smaller ones.

Be sure to pull the weeds out of your rock garden periodically, so they don’t get out of control.

We consider it a terrific advantage to stone landscaping that you won’t have to do nearly as much replanting from year to year. The perennial ground cover you’ll likely plant comes back regularly and needs little cultivation.

The Environment

There is a lot about landscaping rocks and their settings that are favorable to the natural environment. For instance, they generally don’t use any toxic landscaping materials or chemicals.

Some rock gardens have actually been created to restore the local area’s natural habitat. These are considered “native gardens” or “natural landscape” and have benefits including:

  • Not needing fertilizer or as much pesticide as a lawn does
  • Natural water control – which means little to no watering is needed
  • Reducing air pollution by reducing carbon dioxide in the air and not requiring mowing
  • Feeding and sheltering wildlife
  • Showing a homeowner’s pride in in the local ecosystem

If you love the outdoors but aren’t in love with gardening or lawn-mowing, this might be the answer for you.

And did you know that landscaping rock also is a natural barrier to fires, especially wildfires? For those living in wildfire-prone areas, there are even fire and drought-resistant plants to include in a rock garden.

Decorative gravels used in attractive landscape design

The Spaces You'll Create

There is a lot about landscaping rocks and their settings that are favorable to the natural environment. For instance, they generally don’t use any toxic landscaping materials or chemicals.

Safety Barriers

We begin this section with something lovely with a particular purpose: safety barriers made from landscaping boulders. If your home is close to a curve in the road, you’ll know just what we’re talking about here.

Cars have been known to go too fast when coming to a sharp curve. They might run right off the road and into someone’s yard. While a boulder probably will damage the car, it should protect the driver, the home, and those in it.

Retaining Walls

A retaining wall is a complex and well-engineered structure meant to hold back soil on a slope. At one level, a retaining wall curbs soil erosion. At another, though, it alters the landscape to an extent. You might say it “domesticates” the slope.

Whether people have retaining walls for practical uses, decorative ones, or both, they are popular uses of landscaping rock. Whether the stone is natural in shape or cut to size, it must hold together in a way that can restrain tons of material while still allowing water flow for drainage.

Patios, Fire Pits, and Other Social Areas

Outdoor living has become quite the trend lately. It used to be that a family would have a backyard grill and a picnic table. Now, there are outdoor kitchens and patio bars. And fire pits have caught on like, well, wildfire.

We’ve been pleased to see how these outdoor spaces blend natural landscaping materials like rock and bedding plants with the new outdoor living spaces.

Pool Areas

Another outdoor living space that has existed for many years is the swimming pool and its area. Today, many pools, especially those in more affluent neighborhoods, look more like tropical lagoons than the light blue-painted rectangles we used to see.

The decorative landscaping that now surrounds swimming pools is striking, with stone, brick, or concrete decks encircled by beds of pebbles and shrubbery. Some even have elevated areas formed by landscaping boulders.

Fountains or Waterfalls

Every so often, we see fountains or waterfalls complementing an in-ground pool. Usually, though, they exist in a separate part of the property and are purely ornamental, with resin flumes or basins and motor-driven water pumps.

Play Areas

Play areas are wonderful places for stones of any size large enough for a toddler not to swallow. What better way for a young child to develop climbing skills and upper-body strength than climbing on landscaping boulders?

And think of the imaginative mind a child would develop making up games to play with river rocks. A swing set would be an excellent addition later on. But the stones alone would absorb a preschooler’s attention – at least for a while.

Pathways and Seating

There might be no place more soothing than a stone path winding through a rock garden that’s filled with gorgeous flowering perennials. One of those landscaping boulders we’ve mentioned a few times might be just the right place to sit and contemplate the view.

Can you picture yourself redoing your yard yet? We have a clear picture of the possibilities.

A Few Minor Landscaping Rock Concerns

Like anything, landscaping rocks and rock gardens are not perfect. Homeowners and possibly their landscapers, too, need to prepare themselves for some of their inherent flaws that arise in conversations.

Do Boulders Sink Over Time?

The fact is that landscaping rocks sit in or on top of the soil or sand. Both tend to shift or erode over time. It is especially problematic with massive landscaping boulders since they’re tough to move or relocate.

Some ways to deal with this problem and save your landscaping include:

  • Strategize how and where to place the large rocks
  • Create a base to support large boulders
  • Add smaller-sized or less porous rocks to aid drainage
  • Add anchoring plants near boulders
  • Terrace the land or building a retaining wall

Although much of this sounds like fighting fire with fire, anything that solves the drainage issue and anchors shifting soil should help. Remember, this is how nature works.

Can Landscaping Stones Deplete Soil Nutrients?

It’s a common misconception that, when inorganic rocks cover so much soil, they deplete it of nutrients they otherwise would get from mulch or dead leaves.

There’s a grain of truth here, but this myth doesn’t acknowledge how rocks themselves provide essential nutrients in the form of the minerals that comprise them.

Stones and their dust return many minerals to the soil, but the amount is still not enough. Homeowners and landscapers need to add organic mulch and fertilizer to the landscape periodically.

Rocks Retain Heat

Yes, it’s true that rocks, especially the more porous ones, collect and retain heat from the sun and other sources. We know gardeners worry about the heated stones drying out plants.

But heat retention has its benefits as well. For example, if the rocks are near the house, they might keep it a bit warmer when they absorb the daytime sunlight.

Rocks Make Raking Difficult

Alas, yes. Rocks can make raking a chore – as if it weren’t enough of a chore already! However, the solution is simple. We recommend purchasing a leaf blower to take care of this problem. The ultra-portable battery-operated models are becoming more and more popular and can work quite well for clearing your rock beds.

But, just be careful not to set the power too high, or you might end up blowing some of the rocks into the leaf pile!

Rocks Can Look Too Drab and "Rocky"

This header might sound corny but having too many rocks in one place without anything to distract the eye can be monotonous. That’s why variation and diversity are the keys to a successful rock landscaping project.

This is what we do as landscaping professionals: we work with you to plan the perfect rock and plant combination for your space. Our goal is balance – every part of the landscape comes together with and highlights other features.

Buy Landscaping Boulders at Osage Beach, Lake of the Ozarks

Landscape Rock Near Me: Southwest Stone Supply

We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it: nature has its way of doing things. It gives us beauty, and it provides dirt. It’s up to us to figure out how the two can work together to meet our aesthetic and human needs.

There’s nothing like landscaping rock to heighten our awareness of the natural world. Rocks have been with us since the dawn of time. They shaped the earth then, just as we’re still using them to shape it today.

Would you like to build a rock garden or other relaxing space in your backyard? Maybe something that uses landscaping boulders and river stones? If this or any of our other services interest you, feel free to contact us as soon as you’re ready.

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