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For effective (natural) rock garden design, how should the plants be arranged?


Question: For effective (natural) rock garden design, how should the plants be arranged?
Rock gardens can not only offer solutions to landscaping problems, but also provide great visual interest in the yard. In my tutorial, How to Build Rock Gardens, I have included pictures to illustrate the process of building a rock garden from scratch and grouping the plants for optimal effect. The pictures also reveal how important it is to approach a rock-garden project with a color scheme in mind. An even more important goal for some people is to have the plants look "natural" when all is said and done....
Answer: Arrange the plants in a rock garden design to look natural. Observe a rocky terrain with wild plants growing on it. You probably won't find a hodgepodge of species. What you probably will find are large patches of low-growing plants. If you like creeping phlox, for instance, but never know where to put it, your problem is now solved: a rock garden would be a great place to plant creeping phlox.

To be successful in mimicking nature with your rock garden design, you'll need to be of a certain mindset when it comes to design, in general. If you were arranging knickknacks on a shelf, would you tend to wind up with a symmetrical design? If so, rock gardens might not be for you. Evenness in size or distribution looks unnatural in rock garden design. If you want to take a test to determine your garden design philosophy, please consult History of Landscape Design. If after reading this article you come away thinking, "Wow, those formal garden designers were really something!" then rock garden design might not be your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, your reaction is, "Oh brother, that formal garden design sure sounds stuffy!" then you might be ripe for rock garden design.

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