Landscape design Rock gardens

An Ode to Stones

I have a big rock. I love it. It’s my rock!

It’s there naturally, covered by moss and surrounded by wild irises. It even has a tree for a lover! I love my rock. Too bad it’s behind my house, I wish everyone could see it: LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL ROCK!

Rocks are natural. I’m not teaching you anything. I know that in the soil, in the garden, we don’t like running into them, because they interfere with deep rooting or even drainage in the case of a very large rock. But in landscaping, it can be the WOW element of your facade.

Today’s article is intended to inspire. Do you have rocks at home? Don’t know what to do with them? Or on the contrary, would you like to use them, but aren’t sure what to look for or how to integrate these elements? Here are a few ideas for you!

The Rock Container

My big rock probably falls into this category. Let vegetation and lichen take over. Landscape around it with pretty ornamental plants and watch nature gradually transform your mineral element into a support for plants.

Do you have a cavity in your rock? Or several rocks more or less stuck together, creating a strange space in the center? Even better! Fill these holes with soil and put in a few plants. Just make sure the basic principles are met: drainage to prevent water build-up, a plant with sunlight requirements and a depth to match your holes. And you’re all set!

The Rock Path

A great classic! Who doesn’t love stepping stones? Whether you have grass, mulch or gravel between your rocks, the effect is always a success. To create a pathway to a swing, an entire patio made of rock slabs or a few small stones in front of your garden gnome, all you need are flat rocks. This mineral pathway can be utilitarian or simply decorative, and can even become a children’s amusement area, a hopscotch, a creative space for drawing with chalk… The possibilities are endless!

The Artistic Rock

With or without the kids, painting rocks remains a classic. Use them to identify plants in the garden, to indicate your address or to decorate flowerbeds: color all year round!

In your children’s outdoor play area, why not arrange their works of art around hopscotch stones? Imagine a large spiral of flat stones serving as a chalkboard, with the spaces filled in by rocks of every color. Even I’d like to draw a few pictures! Just make sure you have a good-quality outdoor paint or varnish (to be renewed annually) to keep your artwork looking its best. (Choose products that are non-toxic to the environment, especially if you’re going to use them in your vegetable garden).

The Laidback Rock

You think a rock bench is uncomfortable? Think again! Twice, in botanical gardens, I’ve thought this to myself, and twice I’ve been surprised! If you plan to spend hours lounging on your stone bench, add a cushion. Rock stays surprisingly cool on hot days if it’s in the shade. In the sun, it will warm your bum in the evening by releasing the accumulated heat. Reptiles do it, why can’t we?

The Rock Barrier

We often look for a more or less decorative element to delimit the flowerbeds. Sometimes we use coloured mulch or a row of bricks. Well, what could be more natural (and environmentally friendly, I might add!) than reclaiming rocks from your property to create a magnificent, trendy border? You’re guaranteed a beautiful vegetable garden and flowerbeds!

Did I tell you? I love rocks! They have natural colors that vary according to their composition, and they come in all shapes and sizes. That’s fortunate, because I live in Roxton which got its name because the village soil is so rocky!

Have fun integrating your rocks! And if you have other ways of using them, share them with us in the comments!

Audrey Martel is a biologist who graduated from the University of Montreal. After more than ten years in the field of scientific animation, notably for Parks Canada and the Granby Zoo, she joined Nature Conservancy of Canada to take up new challenges in scientific writing. She then moved into marketing and joined Leo Studio. Full of life and always up for a giggle, or the discovery of a new edible plant, she never abandoned her love for nature and writes articles for both Nature sauvage and the Laidback Gardener.

11 comments on “An Ode to Stones

  1. Dolly Hallaran

    I love rocks almost as much as plants. I have used them to border all my gardens. I also have a big rock in my front yard. It is dedicated to the dogs in my neighborhood. They also love rocks. Great article.

  2. Pet Rock was invented right here in Los Gatos!

  3. The best thing about rocks is you don’t have to weed them! Same with ponds – a pool of water means no pulling weeds.

  4. Great article and wonderful comments.

  5. Victoria

    Your rock is gorgeous! We live in southern Indiana which is rich in limestone deposits. When we had basement waterproofing done several years ago the digger came up with several really big specimens that I have added to flower beds. You can get big rocks from landscaping companies but the “home grown” ones are best!

  6. We had what we thought was the tip of a huge rock sticking out the ground that I mowed around for years. Bumped it with the truck one day and it moved! It was flat on the bottom and in the ground just a few inches. Moved it into our flower garden with the tractor. Now we have what looks like a big old rock we can step up on for a great view of the flowers. So funny!

  7. ingerknudsen

    Your rock is beautiful No wonder you have a special relationship with that piece of timeless Hunk!

  8. Eithne Coyle

    When I extended my house I had the rocks which were dug up placed in a mound in the garden. I have enjoyed making a rock garden.

  9. Christine Lemieux

    I love rocks too. I have fond memories of picnicking or lying on large flat rocks by rivers. I have a large flat rock, but in a field. You have inspired me to make it into a destination rock!

  10. Jerelyn Ryan Sehl

    I love rocks too! Enjoyed your article.

  11. I share your love of rocks and have them placed throughout my garden beds just because I like them. 🙂

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