Types Of Landscaping Rocks And How To Use Them

There are many types of landscaping rocks you can use to help your outdoor area maintain a natural look. Rocks come in many different varieties, shapes, and sizes, so your options aren’t limited.

types of landscaping rocks

If you want to know how to use landscape rocks to your advantage, then keep reading. When you add rocks and different plants to your front yard, your home’s curb appeal increases and you’ll find that your efforts were worth the hard work

River rocks, for example, are a great addition to garden beds or any landscape. Rocks are good for garden paths and high-traffic areas. Landscaping is as important as interior design. After all, the exterior of your home is what people see first.

Types Of Landscaping Rocks And How To Use Them

Outdoor areas are therapeutic and serve many purposes. As rocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, finding the right type of rock for your rock garden isn’t hard. With so many available rock choices and different sizes, it can be daunting when choosing the best.

Rock Mulch Vs Wood Mulch

Either your flower bed or garden bed needs mulch. So, which type of mulch is better, rock or wood? Both are popular and widely used by homeowners and DIY garden experts.

Let’s take a look and see what makes them different.

Rock Mulch

Rock Mulch

Granite, lava rock, quartz, pea gravel, are forms of rock mulch, otherwise known as stone mulch. The mulch is good for creating borders for walkways, driveways, and around buildings.

Unlike bark mulch, landscape stone does not decompose. Therefore, it doesn’t require replacement, saving you time and money over the years. This decorative ground cover won’t retain moisture, thereby minimizing the risk of fungi growth. But their biggest advantage is weed control.

There are a few drawbacks to consider. For example, rocks don’t decay, which means they don’t provide nutrients. It also weighs more, making it harder to move than other types of mulch.

Wood Mulch

Wood Mulch

Otherwise known as bark mulch, has a reddish tan color and is the most popular choice of mulch you’ll find anywhere. As the name suggests, it is made from tree bark.

Bark mulch is cheaper and most often used for short-term purposes. And because it is wood, it has nutrients that plants need while offering a natural look.

There are a few drawbacks. Bark doesn’t last that long and doesn’t look good when it’s old. It’s also flammable, so if you live in a wildfire-prone area, this type of mulch is not recommended.

Different Types Of Landscaping Rocks

What Are Landscaping Rocks?
Oliver Custom Homes

Landscaping rock is a broad term to describe rocks for landscaping. While any rock is fine, they vary depending on purpose and intent.

Rocks have different angular sides and can create walkways to complement your yard. However, the size of the rocks depends on your plan.

Landscaping Rocks

Landscaping Rocks

Let’s get dive deeper into the most common types of landscape rock. These rocks can be purchased at most hardware or garden stores, and even in many grocery stores.

If you can’t find sedimentary rocks in stores, for example, then shop online. As many different rock options are available, keep an open mind as you’re under no obligation to go with the one that’s most often used.

Crushed Marble

Crushed marble, otherwise known as calcium carbonate, is great for protecting plant roots. The rocks are like smaller river stones. One issue is how the material heats up more than organic mulch.

The material is recommended for plants that can handle hot temperatures.

The marble chips have a high pH balance and leach into the soil, making them more alkaline. Although it has advantages over mulch, it is not recommended for plants that require acidic soil.

Artificial Rocks

You may not have given artificial rocks much thought, but you should. They are often used for hiding spots. Because they’re hollow, they provide cover for wellheads, tree stumps, and other areas of your yard.
Artificial rocks look like the real thing. They are also easy to move and long lasting.

Mexican Beach Pebbles

Mexican beach pebbles s have a smooth surface and are low maintenance. They are round and available in a variety of dark colors including black, deep red, black, or dark gray. The smooth pebbles are made of basalt, a multi-toned, volcanic rock and harvested by hand in Mexico. They are used in planters and look great with cacti and other types of xeriscape.

One thing you should know is that they’re not cheap. The reason for their high price is related to how they’re polished through a tumbling process that takes several weeks to complete. The process requires specialized equipment and supplies, and deep knowledge of various stone types and their mineral properties.

Crushed Granite Gravel

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.

Larger particles are recommended to open spaces, rather than tight garden areas.

Pea Gravel

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, the material is cheap when covering what you need. You find pea gravel in dry creed beds.

Pea gravel is for parks and public gardens. It’s available in different shades and mixtures according to your needs. 

Smooth River Rocks

River rocks are one of the most versatile stone type among all landscaping rocks. The river rock is smooth and almost symmetrical. The river stones are good for flower beds and erosion control.

Their size and shape make them one of the best landscaping rocks and are good with retaining walls.

River rocks are pretty and great for when you need to fill spaces. You can get them in small amounts or you can get them by the truckload with a discount. The rocks are used for walkways because they won’t hurt your feet or damage shoes.

Brick Chips

Brick chips aren’t the most common type of landscaping rock as they aren’t real rocks at all. They are chips from broken bricks. Because of this, brick chips are cheap, and some time free if you have old bricks.

Brick chips are reddish tan, can be pained with different colors. Though the “brick” color is what you’ll get when you buy brick chips at a store. 

Flagstone Flagstones

Flagstone Walkway

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

Flagstones require a base layer to even the ground and sink into it. 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

Lava rocks are unique landscaping rocks that came from volcanic areas. They can regulate temperatures and retain water because of this. Lava rocks are expensive, but they’re unique and can help your landscape stand out.

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

Landscape Rock Ideas

The best way to find the right kind of landscaping rocks for you is to get inspired. You might find sedimentary rock or river rock is more your style, and both are fine. Here are a few popular ideas that seem to work wonders and are quite easy to achieve. 

Mix And Match

Mix And Match

Mixing and matching natural stones may be your best bet. Pay attention to water features that you could augment with decorative rock or two. If you like to different types of rocks, try contrasting the styles for optimum effect.

You can get dark lava rocks and match them with bright pea gravel, or go with a natural stone look, like white marble for example.

Single Path

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If you have a hard place to get to, then create a stone path that would make it easy to access. Flat rocks for stepping stones would work best for a single path. Each piece could serve as a decorative stone leading to your front or backdoor.

You can use pavers or even something like crushed granite for your path. If you do one thing to your yard, create a path.  

Focus On Green

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Giulietti Schouten Weber Architects

Another option is to go green. If you like this idea, use landscaping rocks to make that green pop. One idea is to add rocks at 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. 


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TERRIGENOUS Landscape Architecture

Retaining walls can make a landscape come together. You can add varying walls to add a whole lot of dynamics to the yard. For an amazing retain wall idea, read this guide on retaining walls

You safety wall should be the number one priority as retaining walls can be a hazard. If one collapses, someone could be injured. 

Living Large

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 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 a few for a minimalist yard or more for something more eccentric. 

You can create a zen garden with a few large rocks for some outdoor Feng Shui. 

Manmade Reservoirs

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Terra Landscaping Inc.

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

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 

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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. Fire pits are popular decor items for patios,  and provide more design opportunities. So if all you have is space for a patio, then create it with landscaping rocks.

Adding plants and a table or two can complete the masterpiece that began with just a landscaping rock or two. Rock landscaping is up to you. Use a few different kinds for the full experience in a small space. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Is The Cheapest Type Of Landscaping Rock?

The top three cheapest landscaping rocks are crushed granite, pea gravel, and river rocks. The rock materials are good for any outdoor space, including garden beds and garden paths. They also make for good stepping stones and fire pits.

How Do You Keep Landscaping Rocks In Place?

Edging strips are vital in rock landscaping. The strips can prevent rocks from moving. Edging strips can also be used to keep smaller landscaping stones and crushed gravel in place.

Is Rock Or Mulch Better For Landscaping?

Rocks are great at suffocating weeds and show a better success rate at weed-prevention than mulch. Stone cover is good for low-water gardens and landscapes.

However, stones aren’t the optimum solution for gardens areas exposed to harsh sunlight because they can hold more heat than mulch.

How Do You Keep Landscape Rocks From Washing Away?

Place one layer of landscaping fabric or landscaping plastic on the flowerbed’s soil. Put the small rocks on top of the fabric or plastic. The fabric or plastic helps to keep the rocks from sinking into the ground.

Another advantage of landscaping fabric is that it helps to prevent weeds from popping up between the rocks. Landscaping fabric provides traction for stones.

Should I Put Landscape Fabric Under Rocks?

Landscape fabric is often used to create a barrier between rocks and soil. When you’re ready to remove the stones, you can shovel them off the fabric instead of digging them out of the ground. The fabric also prevents weeds from cropping up between the small stones.

Landscaping Rocks Conclusion

Landscape design is an art form. Adding decorative rock to your outdoor space is a great way to accent your property. Most rocks don’t have a hefty price tag. As an outdoor home improvement option, rocks will help you save money while adding curb appeal to your home.

There will never be a shortage of rocks. Rocks come in many shapes and sizes and several different colors. They add natural beauty to a landscape and serve as outdoor focal points for your property. 

Unlike mulch, rocks offer a sense of permanence while giving your landscape a natural feel, like when you create garden paths. Rock varieties range from brick chips to marble chips, and lava rocks to granite gravel. Rocks will enhance the natural look of your landscape project.

If the idea of adding rocks sounds appealing, but if you don’t know which types of rocks you should use, reach out to a curb appeal specialist. As a professional, they could tell you which to use and help you find the landscaping rocks for your home.