Rock garden design may seem simple enough on the face of it, but there is a bit more to it than at first meets the eye. Disabuse yourself of the notion right away that it's just a matter of throwing some rocks and plants together! Consult the FAQ that follows for insights regarding selecting and arranging your material, the tools you will need, etc.
Are you bringing rocks in from the outside for your rock garden design? If so, you can take advantage of the opportunity presented by starting from scratch (with a clean slate, as it were). You will find this tip on selection especially helpful if you prefer the appearance of aged stone.
Did I catch your attention in talking about the aged look? Many people prefer it to the appearance of new stone. That's understandable, since moss-covered rocks lend a sense of permanence to this landscaping project. So the question is, if you are bringing new rock in from the outside for your rock garden design, how do you hasten the growth of moss on the rocks to achieve a weathered look?
If you plan on bringing stones in from the outside, the question then becomes one of finding a source. But the answer, to some degree, will depend on how specific and how grand a rock garden design you have in mind. For example, do you envision using a particular type of stone (and no other type will cut it for you)? The answer will also be very different if money is no object (but for how many of us will that be true?). But if you have some flexibility and are working within a budget, I have a tip you may find useful.
Let's say you have a source of rocks on your own property (or a consenting neighbor's property), but you need to move them from where they are now to the spot where you wish to begin your rock garden design. What tools and accessories are suggested to make moving the big ones easier?
When you hear folks talking about rock garden design, one term that pops up quite a bit is "lichen." Do you wonder what lichens are, exactly, and why they are important in rock garden design? Why are "lichens" often spoken of in the same breath with "mosses"? Click the link above to learn the answers to these questions.
Ah yes, the "natural" look. Everybody wants that, right (I've never heard anybody ask for the "unnatural" look!)? So once you have moved stones to the chosen site for your feature, how do you arrange them to achieve a natural rock garden design?
Here's where we get down to the nitty-gritty. Once the rocks have been set in place to form the foundation for your rock garden design, how should you prepare the soil for planting the plants? And what should you keep in mind initially about selecting the plants?
OK, if the previous question got us down to the nitty-gritty, then this one really gets to the heart of what rock garden design is all about. Because let's face it, it's not primarily about the rocks, but about the plants. And you cannot just slap any old plants in the ground and hope to realize your goal of a knockout landscaping feature.
Rock garden design can take a number of forms. For example, you will hear the terms "alpine gardens" and "Japanese Zen gardens" in connection with such features. What's the difference? How do they tie into this topic? Find out here.
We already discussed plant selection, but then there is the issue of distributing the plants amongst the rocks. For an effective rock garden design, you must "have a clue" in this regard before you begin (I told you it would not be as easy as you thought!).
If this set of FAQs didn't answer all your questions, try a more visual approach by viewing the pictures in my tutorial on How to Build Rock Gardens.
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