River Rock Mosaic Garden Rock Art

Vicky Kloppenborg
by Vicky Kloppenborg
2 Materials
1 Week
With the heat and humidity keeping us indoors a lot lately, I thought it would be a great time to clean up a large catc-all area in our basement. It turned out to be a fun task actually. I found things I had been looking for, and things I forgot I had. I was pleased when I pulled a container of rocks out from under a table. Here was a garden project I'd been wanting to do for a long time.
A couple years ago I made a big mosaic rock with some polished river rocks. It was meant for a show, but, found a welcome home in my garden instead. I thought a grouping of them would look cool, so I bought more rocks with the intentions of making more, but never took the time. Well, now, was the perfect time.

I picked out three smaller rocks I liked the shape of and washed them with hot soapy water. Then gathered my rocks, painters/masking tape, bowl of rubbing alcohol, a work rag, and some E6000, clear or white. I found my bags of rock in the floral department at Hobby Lobby. I think they were about $3 each. They weren’t as shiny as my original ones, but would do.
After washing the rocks, they were sorted by the colors and sizes I wanted to use, swished in a bowl of rubbing alcohol to remove any oils on them, and laid out to dry.
Using a liberal amount of glue, begin gluing on the rocks you like, leaving a small space between them, 1/16″th to 1/8th”. Use a piece of tape to hold them into place until they dry. This takes some time. You may even have to use tape and a rock as a prop while drying. If you don’t wait for the rocks to dry firmly enough, they may shift as you move the rock around.
As I glued, I realized I was going to need tiny rocks for a few small spaces around the rounded tops and bottom edges. I picked out a big handful from a pea rock pile behind my house, and gave them a wash, so I’d have something to choose from.
Once the rock is completely covered, let it dry 24 hours.
I used gray sanded grout left over from a bathroom tile project. Grout powder settles and should be re-stirred before mixing with water. ALWAYS WEAR A MASK AND GLASSES when stirring or mixing grout powder. You do not want it to get into your eyes, lungs or nasal passages.
Grouts may differ, follow the directions on the grout package for mixing. I started with 1/2 cup of water, and stirred in about 1 1/4 cup to 1 1/2 cup grout powder. Stir until lumps are gone and it has a consistency of thick oatmeal. Cover in an airtight container and let set for 15 to 20 minutes, before grouting.
I used an old shower curtain to provide a waterproof surface to work on. You’ll also need a pair of rubber or disposable gloves, a bucket of water, old rag, and maybe a putty knife.
Re-stir the mixed grout. Spread the grout across the rocks, pressing it into all the crevices. You can spread the grout on neatly with a putty knife, or just lay it on with your gloved fingertips, which is the method I prefer. Make sure you cover the edges of the rocks on the bottom as well.
Once the rocks are covered with grout, let them set 30 to 40 minutes. Squeeze out a wet rag and wipe them down to expose the rocks you glued on. Let set another 10 to 15 minutes, or sooner, depending on how fast your grout is drying, then rub firmly around the rocks to remove any excess grout, and smooth the grout lines. Wipe lightly with a rinsed dampened rag. Rinse rag with clean water and wipe lightly again. The rocks should be pretty clean but still have a slight hazy look. Let dry 12 hours. ALWAYS DISPOSE OF DIRTY GROUT WATER OUTSIDE – NEVER POUR IT DOWN YOUR DRAIN! Using an outdoor faucet works best for rinsing and washing grout buckets, rags, and tools.

See how I finished this project and other DIY projects by clicking on my blog link below.
Suggested materials:
  • River rocks   (Hobby Lobby)
  • E6000   (Walmart or craft store)
Vicky Kloppenborg
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Gra11196640 Gra11196640 on Aug 02, 2017
    Why not put the rocks in cement or the grout...Save time gluing and taping them on a rock??

  • Cheryl Swan Podesta Cheryl Swan Podesta on Jun 19, 2018

    Can I use that grout to make stepping stones?

  • Janet Janet on Mar 09, 2019

    We are building my art studio and our home in an area where there is lots of beautiful sparkly quartz rock. I find myself obsessed with picking up everyone I see 😊 I have piles of them now all over the property trying to think of a project (or several projects) to use them. They are jagged and do not have any smooth surfaces anybody have any ideas ?

Join the conversation
3 of 24 comments
  • Michelle Michelle on Oct 14, 2019

    Just returned from a trip with many rocks. You have given me the idea how to enjoy them other than in a bowl or jar. I think using cement would make it easier . Great idea

  • Michelle Michelle on Feb 26, 2021

    Great Idea to use for little rocks that you bring home as "souveniers" In addition to making patio stones. We brought many rocks home from a trip to Hungary that are pretty - but weren't big enough to put outside. Now, we can!

    • Vicky Kloppenborg Vicky Kloppenborg on Feb 28, 2021

      Thank You Michelle. I'm glad you may find my idea useful. It's always nice to hear from another rock lover. My grandchildren and I seem to cart a lot of rocks home too.