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Creating a Rock Garden

By Emmy Ulmschneider and Debbie Roland, Master Gardeners

In West Texas we have access to rocks. Rock gardens can be made up of any size of rock and the garden itself can be any shape or size. With all these different possibilities how do you know where to start?

There are gorgeous gardens in our area that use rocks along with hardscape and a variety of native plants resulting in eye pleasing landscapes.

Here are the steps to put you in the right direction.

1. Garden Design. If you are starting your first rock garden try a test area first. If you like it, you can expand later. Try a 5’ by 10’ spot. Avoid any areas that are close to trees. You don’t want to damage roots by digging to put in plants.

2. Needing Inspiration. The best way to get ideas is to look at existing gardens that you love. Use local ones, online, or magazines. You are looking for things you like and things you really want to avoid. Talk to people who have a rock garden or maybe can send you to someone who does.

3. Plan. Draw out what you want. You probably have some idea already and it is important to put that on paper. Sometimes just drawing it can make you see if your placement is right and what pitfalls you might have. Don’t forget that you will need access to water. Even though you will be putting out drought tolerant plants, they still need some water. Look into drip irrigation for this job. Be sure to check and be sure that there aren’t any utilities under your new bed.

4. Choose the Rocks. Pick out the large ones first that way you can work around them with your plants. They come in different colors so be mindful of that. When picking the smaller rocks be sure the colors work well together.

5. Plants. Place your pots of native flowering plants before you plant them. Their location should make you want to come in and take a closer look. Large grasses around the edges of large rocks will soften the landscape.

6. Creating the Garden. First place a pebble base then cover with sand. Since this will help with the prevention of weeds the thicker the layers, the better. Top this with topsoil. Plants that might need more care should be place in an area that is easy to access. Adding seating to your garden gives you a place to relax and enjoy it.

7. Maintenance. The great thing about rock gardens is that they require little maintenance.

If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.

For additional information, and to access our blog for past articles, go to Click on Resources.


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