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A rock wall in a yard made up of various kinds of fieldstones

Stylish Stones To Use In Your Garden

When planning your landscaping projects, you might have wondered if you should have a traditional garden with all your favorite flowers, or if you should go with the more eclectic (and lower maintenance) option of a rock garden. But here’s an interesting idea: what if you didn’t have to choose?

There are many ways to include rocks in your flower garden, from natural retaining to a single, decorative stone as a statement piece to covering the entire bed in gravel–trust us on that last one! And best of all, with the range of rocks available to you, you can customize them to match your garden–or vice versa! So before you break ground on your garden, let’s go over what, how, and why on using landscape rocks in your garden beds.

What Kinds of Rocks Should I Use In My Garden?

Truth be told, the options for the kinds of rocks you can use are nearly infinite! The best kind of rocks to use are the ones you like, but if you need a little more guidance, here’s a quick guide on different kinds of rock and which ones to use in your landscaping.

First, let’s brush up on some basic geology. Every rock in the world is in one of three categories: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.


These rocks are formed when magma bubbles up out of the earth, cools, and solidifies. You may have heard these rocks referred to as “lava rocks,” and they tend to be dense and durable. The ones you’ll likely use for your garden will be rough and scratchy, and they make great gravel.

Examples of igneous rock: granite, pumice, basalt.


These stones are made from sediment (dirt) being compressed over a very long period of time. They tend to be softer than igneous stones, as well as more porous. They make wonderful decorative stones, and can typically be carved as well if you’d prefer stone statues over natural stone.

Examples of sedimentary rock: limestone, sandstone, shale.


These rocks come about when one of the other kinds is put through immense heat and pressure over a long period of time, transforming them into a different kind of rock altogether! They’re typically smooth and dense, and they’re a great option for pathways.

Examples of metamorphic rock: quartzite, marble, and slate.

Classifications of Landscaping Rocks

While every rock you see is going to be one of those three kinds of rocks you see above, you’ll likely see rocks classified under different categories when you’re looking around for the kind you want to use in your garden. They all range in size from the tiniest pea gravel to massive boulders. Some common types of rock categories are:

River Rock

These rocks are, like the name says, found in rivers. They tend to be smooth and flat after years of being tumbled by the water, and they make excellent paving stones and stepping stones. Additionally, they make excellent linings for water features and drainage systems because they hold up well in water.


These stones are, naturally, found in fields. They tend not to be uniform in shape, meaning they can add a great deal of character wherever they’re used. Because they’re durable and weather-resistant, many people use fieldstones to create retaining walls or stone fences on their property.


A flagstone is a flat, hard piece of rock that is typically used to build things, ranging from pathways to tombstones. These stones come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be broken up to form mosaic patterns in pathways.

More specific stones, like quartz and granite, can also be used in bulk for a more uniform look to a garden. When planning your garden, be sure to have a budget in mind–you might like the idea of tumbled rose quartz in your flowerbed, but it’ll get very pricey very fast! It’s a good idea to get in touch with a landscape professional so you can have a better idea of what stones are in your budget and what would look best with your design.

Why Should I Use Rocks In My Garden?

While you might be onboard with adding whimsical stepping stones through your flower beds or creating dry creek beds made of river rock to siphon off excess water, adding rocks right onto your plants can seem counterintuitive. After all, don’t you want a clear patch of soil to plant?

The answer to that is “initially, yes.” When you’re getting your garden planted, get rid of individual stones you find as you clear out the area and plant as you initially planned. Once your plants are large enough, though, add a layer of small rocks–beach pebbles or pea gravel, for instance–over the dirt.

Why should you do this? Think of it as a natural, better alternative to landscape fabric. The layer of rocks prevents your soil from eroding away in rain storms, and it keeps water from evaporating and drying out your flower beds–making it an invaluable addition to any water-conscious outdoor space. Plus, it inhibits weed growth by not giving them a chance to take root.

Not only is this a natural way to ensure your garden stays in great shape, but these stones can blend in with your garden beautifully. With a variety of colors, texture, size, and shape, natural stone can be customized to compliment your flowers and plants while being a useful part of your garden.

How Else Can I Use Rocks In My Garden?

Aside from ground cover for your plants, the choices for using rocks in your landscaping are endless! Here are just a few ideas of how you can use natural stone in your yard:

  • Create a pathway with large river rocks
  • Fill a firepit with dark gravel
  • Use natural stone to line a pond or pool
  • Put a few in a water feature as decoration
  • Create a small rock or zen garden in addition to your garden
  • Use different types of stone in different areas to give depth to your yard
  • Use gravel in your driveway instead of asphalt
  • Create steps with large flagstones
  • Make a dry creek bed to take care of runoff water
  • Use medium-sized stones to create edging for your flower beds

Have other ideas for how to use rocks in your garden? Go for it!

Getting To The (Rock) Bottom Of Landscape Stones

Rocks are a garden’s underrated heroes. With so many applications, so many colors, and so many types, they can add a layer of vibrance and interest just by existing. Plus, they’re great for weed protection, water-wise gardening, and fighting soil erosion in addition to looking pretty.

Now that you know more about how rocks can totally change a landscaping design and bring it to new heights, think about how you can implement it in your own outdoor space. And, if you want more rocks in your garden but still aren’t sure how to make it happen, get in touch with a landscape designer who can look at your yard and tell you exactly what kind of rocks you need.

So, go out and take a look at the stones around you, get inspired, and get ready to make your garden rock!

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