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Rock Gardens

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A rockery built alongside steps

A rockery built alongside steps

A ROCKERY or rock garden is a landscaping feature made by arranging rocks and plants, often in a way which mimics a mountainous or alpine environment, with plants native to rocky environments which usually prefer well-drained soil and less water.

Rock gardens lend interest to different areas of the garden using well-placed rocks to blend with a mixture of low growing plants and groundcovers.

Garden rockeries are best located closer to the house or patio, since the small plants look much better from close up than from a distance. The plants used in rockeries are usually low and slow growing and do well in dry areas. In Japan, Korea and China, the art of creating rock gardens is over a thousand years old. Their stylized gardens are popularly known today as Zen gardens which are special kind of rock gardens containing few plants. Some very fine examples of rockeries can be seen in these nations. In the west, rockeries became popular since the 17th century, when they were introduced to Europeans from Asia. Rock gardens have become increasingly popular as landscape features in tropical regions seen as ideal for both residential and commercial gardens due to its easier maintenance and drainage.

The setting of a rock garden can vary. Some people like to surround their homes with a rockery garden, especially if they are trying to conserve water, since rockeries lend themselves to low maintenance water gardening. Others prefer to site a rockery in a larger garden, typically close to a path or structure so that people can see it. In a big rambling garden, a rockery can be a pleasant and refreshing surprise, providing a counterpoint to lush greenery.

There are as many reasons for building a rockery as there are people who want to build them. Rockeries are an easy unique way to reduce lawn on a hard-to-mow slope. They can re-create a piece of nature in the backyard. They can add element of movement to an excessively flat landscape. They make an ideal site for a collection of delicate alpine plants and also perfect for highlighting less delicate but tiny plants that would otherwise go unnoticed. Slope Rockery Steep slopes can be a challenge to gardeners, and a rockery is the best solution for these areas.

Use large rocks and position to create an attractive visual balance. The best types of plants for a slope rockery are those that spill over, as well as mounded plants and ornamental grasses. Succulents that thrive in the sun and dry soil are also a good choice.

Functional Rockery If there are steps leading up to your house, rockeries can be created along the steps, or large rocks can be used to build the staircase. This adds a more natural feeling to the landscape and increases the property’s visual appeal. Creating steps out of rocks is something you’ll need help with and it’s best to use a professional landscaper for advice. Often the rocks are too large for manual lifting.

Minimalist rock garden waterscape

Minimalist rock garden waterscape

After the rocks are in place, you can fill around them with low growing plants, ground covers, and low to medium-height grasses. Also, it’s best to use plants native to your area. Fortunately, a properly designed rock garden requires little care. Most rock garden plants are drought tolerant, need little fertilizer, and rarely require pruning. The only main task is weeding and this can be reduced to a minimum by making sure all perennial weeds are removed from both the site and soil being added before starting the rock garden. Best plants suited to rockeries are those which grow slow and low and are happy in dry areas i.e. alpines, cacti, succulents and agaves. Rockeries can be made to fit any available space.

If your garden is on the small side why not consider housing your rockery in a contemporary planter made of fibreglass, zinc or steel. If you don’t have room for large rockery, the artful application of stone could enhance the natural elements that you have already employed namely, your plants (or softscapes), you can create good aesthetic results with the use of shrubs and just a few strategically placed rocks. A rockery can be a stunning feature of a garden, complementing cascading waterways or providing a backdrop for plants and shrubs.


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