Types Of Landscaping Rocks And How To Use Them

Landscaping is just as important as interior design. After all, the exterior of your home is what people will see, and that includes your yard. Even people who only drive by can be amazed by your landscaping design. 

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types of landscaping rocks

Not to mention, outdoor areas can be very therapeutic, so making yours special is a great idea. One thing that most landscaping areas have in common is landscaping rocks. But with so many choices, how can you know which ones are best?

What Are Landscaping Rocks?

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Image from Oliver Custom Homes

Landscaping rock is a broad term used to describe rocks that are used when landscaping. While any rock can be a “landscaping rock” in general, when you shop, you will notice that most of these rocks are similar to gravel. 

While large rocks can be landscaping rocks, they are also just rocks. Landscaping rocks are generally made to fill areas, make walkways, and bring a yard together. They are usually each one smaller than your palm. 

However, the size of the rocks you use depends on your plan for them and which set is aesthetically pleasing to you. Some are as small as a grain of sand, though most are between the side of a pea and a lime. 

Types Of Landscaping Rocks

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Image from J. Montgomery Designs

Now that we’ve had the rundown, let’s get down to the most common types of landscaping rocks. These rocks can be purchased at most hardware or garden stores, and even in many grocery stores. So keep an eye out.

If you can’t find any in stores, then start shopping online. You can find anything online. Just know that since it is rocks that are being shipped it might cost more. After all, rocks are heavy and cost more to ship for the supplier. 

Decomposed Granite

Price: $40 to $50 per cubic yard

Uses: base layers, walkways, pathways, cushioning 

Decomposed granite is a natural derivative of granite. Yes, that’s the same granite used for countertops. Only granite in nature will erode and flake, creating decomposed granite. This granite is often crushed even more. 

Another name for decomposed granite is crushed granite which is always crushed after it flakes. Both are nearly identical and the names can be used interchangeably when shopping. If you can’t find one, search for the other. 

Pea Gravel

Cost: $15 to $75 per cubic yard

Uses: infill, stop weed growth, playground, pipe bedding

Pea gravel is larger than decomposed granite and is perfect for filling holes or providing a safe top layer for kids and pets. Since you don’t need a thick layer of pea gravel, it ends up being fairly cheap to cover what you need. 

Pea gravel is often used in parks and public gardens because of the size and price. So, you can usually get quite a bit and in multiple different colors. There are different shades and mixtures so you can customize them. 

River Rocks

Cost: $20 to $100 per cubic yard 

Uses: walkways, drainage, mulch, aesthetics 

River rocks are one of the most versatile types of landscaping rocks. They are gorgeous, smooth, and nearly symmetrical. They can even be used for flower beds and erosion control. Their size and shape make them one of the best landscaping rocks there is. 

If you only get one type of rock, river rocks are one of your best bets. They are pretty and can be used in almost any way. You can get them in small amounts or you can get them by truckload with a discount. 

Brick Chips

Cost: $10 to $60 per cubic yard

Uses: weed barrier, red addition 

Brick chips aren’t the most common type of landscaping rock as they aren’t real rocks at all. They really are chips from broken bricks. Because of this, though, they can be very cheap, at times even free if you have old bricks. 

In general, brick chips are red, but if the bricks were painted beforehand, they can be any color. Though the “brick” color is what you’ll get when you buy brick chips over the counter at a general store. 


Cost: $2 to $6 per square foot

Uses: pavers, 

Because flagstones are flat like tile, they are purchased by weight or square foot coverage. They are flat and only require one layer. Flagstones are used as pavers for walkways, patios, decks, and more. They are one of the best flat stones for landscaping. 

Flagstones will require a base layer to even the ground out and to sink down into. Soil can be used for this or thin gravel. Anything that can make the flagstones secure and keep them from wobbling. 

Related: 16 Lawn Edging Techniques Great For DIY Landscaping

Lava Rocks

Cost: $75 – $110 per cubic yard

Uses: temperature regulator, weed barrier, water retainer

Lava rocks are unique landscaping rocks that came from volcanic areas. They have the ability to regulate temperatures and retain water because of this. Lava rocks may be expensive, but they are one of the most unique options. 

If lava rocks are too expensive for you, you can get similar landscaping rocks that are the same color. Or you can get fake landscaping rocks made of synthetic materials that look exactly like lava rocks. 

Ideas For Landscaping Rocks

The best way to find the right kind of landscaping rocks for you is to get inspired. Here are a few popular ideas that seem to work wonders and are quite easy to achieve. Check them out for inspiration.

Mix And Match

Image from Morgan Howarth Photography

Mixing and matching may be your best bet. Especially if you are trying to decide which landscaping rock to get. If you like to different types of rocks equally, try contrasting them for a really great effect. 

You can get dark lava rocks and match them with bright pea gravel for one. But there are dozens of other options too. You can either mix them together or create some sort of contrasting patterns in a tile-like way.

Single Path

Image from Hudson Construction Group

Sometimes all you need is a single path in your yard. You can use pavers or even something like crushed granite for your path. It can draw the eye in and keep the focus on the path, which is aesthetically pleasing. 

If you only do one thing to your yard, create a path. Traditionally, it should lead to your door or porch and then to the driveway. Getting enough landscaping rocks for a pathway isn’t all that difficult so it’s a great investment. 

Focus On Green

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Image from Giulietti Schouten Weber Architects

Another option is to use primarily green in your yard. Then only use landscaping rocks to make that green pop and accent it. A great idea is to add the rocks around the base of each tree or plant in your yard.

Now you don’t have to have landscaping rocks at all to have a killer yard. The rocks simply help bring a natural aspect that still looks modern. You can use them to create a life-size fairy garden or something more contemporary. 

Varying Walls

Image from TERRIGENOUS Landscape Architecture

Retaining walls can really make a landscape come together. You can add varying walls to add a whole lot of dynamics to the yard. Find some amazing retaining wall ideas and how to make your own with this guide on retaining walls

Just make sure that you build your retaining wall safely. This should be the number one priority as an unsafe retaining wall can be a huge hazard. If one collapses, someone could be seriously injured. Always get a professional to help out.

Living Large

Image from LandCrafters, Inc

If you aren’t into the gravel pathways and accents, then you don’t have to use them. Instead, try larger rocks that offer a different type of landscaping. Use only a few for a minimalist yard or more for something more eccentric. 

You can even create a zen garden with a few large rocks over sand or something similar to Stonehenge. This is an entirely new aesthetic that is always fun to experiment with and can be quite cheap if you only get a few rocks. 

Manmade Reservoirs

Image from Terra Landscaping Inc.

Whether it’s a pond or a river, manmade water reservoirs can really take a landscaping project to the next level. Everyone wants waterfalls and rivers running through their property, but that usually isn’t possible.

Not naturally, anyway. But you can use rocks and a little excavation work to create gorgeous ponds and such. The end result will be the same, or even better considering you get to customize your sanctuary. 

Patio Designs 

Image from B. Jane Gardens

You don’t have to have a large yard to have an amazing yard. You can use landscaping rocks for patio designs too. So if all you have is space for a patio, then you can create that patio with landscaping rocks.

Adding some plants and a table or two can complete the masterpiece that began with just a few landscaping rocks. The type of rocks you choose is up to you. Use a few different kinds for the full experience in a small space.