How to Build a Rock Garden

by Deltagardener
Have you ever wondered how to build one of those fabulous rock gardens? We did just that by using recycled driveways. From elaborate rock gardens to rock walls, read about it here.
Rock garden at Darts Hill, Surrey BC.I love this look using alpine plants and hoped to have our rock garden wall look similar.
Checking out other rock gardens gave us ideas on what we wanted in our new rock garden. Here scree is used in this garden.
The first layer of rock was dug down and placed at least halfway into the ground for stability. Once the first layer was complete, the next was layer was carefully placed on top in brick fashion. Carefully select your rocks as you go.
Our community garden didn't have the funds for an elaborate rock garden but we wanted to add some beauty to the entry of our garden. Filling the rock garden with soil above using good quality soil.
The wall is three layers high and not mortared. As it was built, each layer was laid to lean just slightly toward the center of the garden to prevent tipping. Safety is paramount.
We added spring bulbs first to our completed rock garden, adding plants slowly as we decided on what we wanted to use. Creeping succulents are a must for the rock garden.
Ladner Community Garden's rock wall garden brings plants to eye level. Elevated beds also warm up quickly in the spring.
Its wonderful to watch as the season progresses with the different plants.
Remember to use plants that are in scale with the garden. The Shasta daisy was removed from this bed and moved elsewhere in the garden.
The rock garden is built in 2 sections each being 65' long with an arbor in the center as a grand entrance to our community garden.
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Lynne Webb Lynne Webb on Jul 08, 2017
    In looking at the stone, is this created from bags of Quickrete? It's lovely and I need walls. One to direct the neighbors run-off because he paved where he should not have. Now I have 'water front property' when it rains hard. Another area needs to be terraced. So if this is bags of Quickrete, it's a great job and do-able by me.

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  • Laurie Laurie on Jun 27, 2017
    So beautiful.

  • Sarah Jane Sarah Jane on Aug 09, 2019

    Without mortar, how do you keep the soil in over time as it rains or you water? My elevated rock area on the side of the driveway needs to be redone because I get mud all over the drive.

    • Mindshift Mindshift on Dec 22, 2021

      Some soils are more likely to seep through cracks than others. You can mortar the interior half of a stone wall—the outside will appear dry stacked. The higher the wall the more important it is to have weep holes along the bottom. Water makes soil heavier and can move even heavy, mortared stones over time. Place 6" of round gravel covered in landscape fabric against the interior base of the wall. Leave spaces between lower stones for water to filter through. If there are gutters from your house or a neighbor's that drain into this area the gravel base needs to be deeper and taller and may need a perforated drainage pipe to handle the hydrostatic pressure.