How to Create a Rock Garden

An example of a rock garden

A rock garden can provide several different habitats even in quite a small area. A rock, for example, can be placed so that sun-loving plants make the most of its sunny face whilst shade-tolerant plants can nestle in its north-facing shadow.

When to build a rock garden
The best times to build a rock garden is normallly the Autumn and winter.Basically because there is less to do in the garden.
Also the Plants can then establish themselves in your rockery for a growing season before the challenge and enemy of rock plants ,the wet winter weather.

How to build a rock garden

Choose the place for your Rock Garden
Depending on where you are considering which part of your garden you are looking to locate your rockery,it is certainly worth assessing garden conditions and its micro climate.

Some key points:
You should aim to use the most open position, away from overhanging trees or tree roots, where plants will receive sun for the greater part of the day.
Choose a position where the drainage is perfect, unless you are prepared to build raised beds or enhance drainage in other ways.For example ,rock gardens do flourish on slopes within gardens where drainage is excellent.

Preparing your Garden
It is helpful to do a Sketch plan of the proposed rock garden.Bear in mind the gradient of the garden,the amount of shade and how you might best view it.

Materials
Rock gardens can be quite expensive with materials such as rock, stone, gravel or slate.
To reduce the cost look to see if there are any local stone you can use ,salvaging rock from beaches or quarries .Also it may be worthwhile contacting your local aggregate to see if they can offer any discounted rocks.Try and make the rocks of a varying colour and size to give it an attractive and natural look.

Building the rock garden
Construction of your rockery may seem rather daunting. But for larger projects you will need the help of a professional landscaper, but smaller projects are quite feasible as a DIY project.

The Process :
Mark out the area using marker spray from a builders' merchant or with marker sticks .
Ensure that the area you have chosen is weed-free .
Create your mounds and undulations with top soil which can be purchased from a local merchant.

Select large stones to act as 'keystones'. Position the larger of these first and place the remaining ones around this pivot..
Aim for a natural look when setting the rock in place. The rocks should be spread out in a pattern that allows the rockery to be eye catching but in keeping with your gardens micro environment.
Use weed-free top soil for the top layer of the rock garden, working it underneath and between the stones to set them firmly in place. Soil-based potting media such as John Innes No1 with added grit (up to 30% by volume) are weed, pest and disease free
Bury the stones up to a third of their depth, firming them in place.
Leave the areas between the stones unfirmed and add the specially made compost over the area to create planting pockets.

Planting the rock garden
Water the plants and place them in position while still in their pots. Allow for the plants' height and spread when fully grown.

Remove the plant from the pot, tease out the roots slightly and remove any weeds from the surface of the compost. Make sure the plants are planted firmly in the compost mix and are top-dressed with gravel or grit.

To select your plants for the rock garden it is worthwhile doing some research ,do you have any favourite colours,plant types ?
It also may be worth asking at your local garden centre on the which plants they recommend .

Some popular plants for rock gardens inlcude heathers,lavender,houseleek,spring gentian and aubrieta.

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