Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, October 28, 2013

Planting Rocks

Have you ever planted rocks in your garden? I am sure you have because this is the kind of crazy thing we gardeners do! Having a flatbed of rocks delivered is normal, right?


Building a dry creek bed, finishing a few pathways and adding some decorative rock to our garden were several of the projects on our fall to do list this year. So a few weeks ago, we visited our local rock yard to pick out rocks. This was really tough because I love rocks. Is that weird? I would buy them all but alas that isn't in the budget. We narrowed our choices down, first by style, then size, then color and then it was just a matter of preference. Sounds easy enough, right. But it took a lot of thought and serious decision making with all the irresistible choices. 

Seven pallets of rocks and 2 pallets of flag stone were delivered last week and my husband got started on the dry creek bed right away. He was as excited about this project as I was.


We choose medium to large size smooth rocks to give the dry creek bed a natural look and visual appeal. Smaller river rock was used to fill in between the larger rocks.


This is the top (beginning) of the bed where we started with larger rocks mixed with the smooth medium and small river rock. I love that some of the large rocks already have lichen growing on them!


I had already planted some irises and pink muhly grass near the edge of the dry creek bed. We found that this worked really well. Adding plants after the rock was spread would be much more cumbersome.



Rocks, just like plants, support many forms of life. Turn over a rock and you might find a worm, ant, centipede, beetle, spider, toad or a number of other soil organisms. They may be way down there on the food chain but they are a very essential part of any garden.


Almost immediately upon laying rocks the insects arrived. Several butterflies, bees, and flies checked out the new garden addition. And guess what...they approved!


The butterflies used the rocks to bask in the sun and perch on while they reached between the rocks to find the essential minerals they need.


Birds, snakes, lizards, spiders and other mammals will hunt for food in these rocks. We used two man boulders to make a smoother transition from the rock bed to the moss garden area. I think the wildlife will appreciate it.


Not only will the rocks provide a beneficial micro-climate for garden insects and plants, but from a design perspective they offer a nice transition between the architecture of our home and garden. Remember this area before? I mentioned this area in my Seasonal Celebrations: Autumn post.


This is how it looks now. We still have some plantings to add around the perimeter and mulch but I couldn't be happier with the result.


The leaves are falling onto the rocks, the critters are moving in and the rocks look like they've always been planted here.


17 comments:

  1. This is great Karin! I can't wait to see it.

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  2. That is a tremendous job but it looks fantastic.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  3. That is very cool! I'm with you in seeing the beauty of stone, and I love your new dry stream bed. Stone does not play the same role in the landscape here, though. We have mostly horizontal limestone rather than boulders most of the time. But seeing all your stone makes me want to head out to the stone yard and but a couple of boulders anyway!

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    1. I am a fan of rocks in the garden. I think it gives a natural looking structural element to the landscape. Plus I think they can fit into any style from formal to cottage style. I hope you find some that work in your garden.

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  4. Love it! I've been trying to convince my husband to help me set up a rock garden/erosion zone on a dry slope on the west side of the house. He seems to think we need to hire out to have the work done, so I guess I need to budget for that. I also love the idea of planting Irises and grasses along the edge--that will look beautiful in the springtime! Yay!

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    1. If you can budget to have it done it is probably worth it. My husband did all the work here but he was terribly sore from all the lifting! If you are going to use anything more than two man boulders you will definitely need someone with machinery to set the rocks. I hope you will do a post on your rock garden when you get yours done.

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  5. I love rocks, too! I am fascinated with their color variations, their shapes, and their textures.Your pink muhly grass will look great by your dry creek bed. I have to tell you what a Mexican once said to me as he helped load some rocks I had just purchased. "In my country, rocks like these are everywhere." He gave me a broad smile. "You Americans will buy anything!"

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    1. That is funny! but probably so true. :) The rocks really do change color in the light and when it rains. I love that!

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  6. LOVE IT!!! It looks great. I really love rocks, too. I loved picking them for the river bed in my rain garden. It's always wonderful to see butterflies basking on the rocks after a rain storm or puddling in the standing water. :o)

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    1. Thank you! I am getting such a kick out of observing the critters discover the rocks and move in. Right now it is the spiders, lizards and smaller insects but I am sure we will see a snake or two come spring. :)

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  7. You are having a "rocking good time." The grasses and iris are perfect pairings.

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    1. I have been getting some inspiration looking at the Piet Oudolf plant pairings to see what might work around a dry creek bed. I think it will be an ongoing process.

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  8. Wow, what a big job and very well done. I love the big hard edged rocks with all their colours. How neat that the butterflies were in there so quick. I hadn't really thought of that aspect before, that rocks attract wildlife.

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  9. That's a lot of rocks you planted, and they grow fast in your garden! LOL. I fully agree with you about them, but in my case i can't just put them because it would be very difficult to change style later. Rockies should be there for life.

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  10. Karin I think I love this as much as the critters and you have inspired me...

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  11. That is a lot of rocks and $$, but it looks so wonderful.

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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