How to Use Rocks to Enhance Your Garden or Pond

Is rock gardening for you? If you live in New England and want a garden, you might not have a choice! The number of rocks you unearth while gardening is likely to be enough to build a house. Just digging holes for new plants yields boulders of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

how to use rocks to enhance your garden or pond
Image by bric

You might want to designate an area in your yard where you can store rocks so that when you’re ready to use them in your landscape, you’ll have an ample supply. There are many different creative ways you can use these rock crops in your yard and garden.

Helpful Tools

  • Good solid closed-toe shoes such as hiking boots
  • A wheelbarrow
  • Gardening gloves
  • Very tough shovel
  • Ice pick
  • Ratcheting device for large boulders

Creating Borders with Large to Medium Sized Rocks

rock wall
Image by kewing

Rock walls, or straight lines of large to medium-sized rocks, are fixtures in New England. You’ll see them in forests, in people’s yards, and even in cities. Rock walls make lovely additions to a garden and are very easy to design.

To begin a rock wall or border, dig a long trench (it does not need to be very deep, about six inches) where you’d like the wall to be. If you don’t want to do all the digging at once, you can also dig holes for the rocks individually. Bury the smaller rocks under and between the larger rocks.

That way when it rains, the large rocks become a fixed part of your landscape. If you don’t dig the rocks in, they tend to roll out of your design, sometimes even onto your toes!

Next, begin with a rock that you like, and keep wedging in rocks next to it, careful to secure each rock with dirt and smaller rocks, until you have the look that you want. Fitting rocks together in a nice way is a bit like putting together a puzzle.

For the best visual effect, contrast the size, shape, and color of the rocks that you use as well as how you put them together. For instance, some rocks look best standing up on one end. Others may look the best lying flat or piled together.

Creating Rock Borders with Small to Medium-sized Rocks: If you don’t have large or medium-sized rocks, small rocks will work just as well. Instead of placing rocks next to each other, you’ll stack them. Start with the largest rocks you have and then pile smaller rocks on top.

You’ll need to fit them together in a way that secures them. Borders of smaller rocks look lovely around birdbaths, fountains, or even to separate groups of plants from each other.

The Rock Pile: A large to the medium-sized pile of rocks can also make a unique centerpiece for a yard or garden. It’s an inexpensive way to make a homemade sculpture of sorts.

Garden Design with Circles and Concentric Rock Circles

If you have a large garden and you plant bare-root plants, rock circles are an excellent way to ensure that your plants don’t get stepped on. They also serve to remind you where your plants are. That way when you add new plants, you won’t dig up your old bare-root plants by accident.

To create a rock circle, follow the same method as used in the rock wall description. However, instead of working in a straight line, work in a circle. Some design ideas include planting a rose in the middle, circling it with rocks, and then planting tulip bulbs around it.

Wildflowers also make lovely borders around roses and prevent them from getting scalded on ninety plus degree days. If you decide to use concentric circles, make sure the area that you are using is large enough for one circle with another circle inside of it.


Image by Bee50

Using fieldstone to cover a pond liner is a beautiful way to make your pond look natural. Large rocks work best to cover pond liners. However, if you’d also like to cover the liner inside your pond, you’ll need to create a base of rocks, and then build upon it with various size rocks, making sure that they are locked so that it’s safe to stand on. If you have fish in your pond, they’ll enjoy having rocks to hide out in.

Patio Steps with Slate

Slate steps are a very easy addition to a garden. Buy 15-20 pieces of slate. Dig them in just enough so that they are secure and lie flat. Wait for it to rain for them to secure themselves permanently.

Patio Steps with Slate
Image by keys22s

Thyme can also be planted between the patio steps. It will eventually grow around the steps and releases a lemony aroma when stepped on.

As you can see, there are many ways to use rocks in your yard and garden. How you use them depends upon your taste preferences as well as the supplies that you have on hand.

How to Use Rocks to Enhance Your Garden or Pond