Hard Landscaping With Rocks or Pebbles

by Kathi
3 Materials
18 Months

I have been collecting rocks my for as long as I can remember. Moving them from house to house was something I had to do myself. After all I could not expect my husband or anyone else to move over a thousand pounds of rocks! Now I've been in this house for 20 years and had been moving the rocks from location to location but I needed to find them a permanent home. I saw the work of Jeffery Bale http://jeffreygardens.blogspot.com/2011/08/bu... and fell in love with the idea.


Deciding what sort of shape you will design, where you put it and how large you want it to be all sort of happens at the same time.

I choose a paisley because I have always loved them, plus I felt it would work well with the medium.

To get started you need to clear and level the ground. I am good at clearing, not so good at leveling!

My next step was to define the shape by outlining with 3 rows of rocks.

I found an unused roll of vinyl flooring in the trash and decided to cut it into strips and use the strips to create the different shapes. I scored the vinyl an inch or so to create a foot that I nailed into the ground.

You need to select your rocks for each shape with a predesign idea in your head. Your pebbles are suppose to be placed with the skinny side exposed like in the next photo. Now I didn't always follow this rule (found it too limiting) and I have had a few rocks pop out that had to be glued back into place. Just make sure that most of the rock is beneath the surface. Next mixed the mortar, scooped the mortar into the shape and placed the rocks.

Once the shapes had hardened you can actually move the smaller ones around to the best home for that shape.

At this point I had most of the shapes finished and decided to work on the background.

For the background I worked in a kind of color wave, starting with white rocks moving to light yellow, then yellow, yellow-orange, orange and so on.

I placed the rocks using the shapes to hold them in place, sometimes a piece of wood, scooped in dry mortar and then wet the mortar.

Boy oh boy did I have a lot of white rock!

To help cure the mortar you must keep watering your design.

Here are some of my favorite designs.

You can find Mexican Beach Pebbles in an amazing amount of colors.

Getting close to being done. Background color in working into blue/green.

The paisley measures 7' at the widest point by 18' so it is difficult to get a photo of the entire Paisley.

I did end up going to my favorite spot (on the south coast of California) to get more rocks and I also purchased some finding a couple of places that had 75 lbs bags presorted by size and color.

After the mosaic had cured for about 25 days I clean it with Muriatic Acid diluted with 4 parts water. You can pour it on and scrub with a nylon bristle brush. It will remove any dulling mortar film left on the pebbles. Be careful using this stuff. Wear rubber gloves and cover your skin, and do not breath the fumes. You can buy it at the local hardware store. I used all kinds of brushes (some wire) that fit on an electric drill (from Harbor Freight) to trim out any unwanted globs of mortar and to smooth the joints.

After it was cleaned I used 2 coats of a high gloss stone sealer.

It took me a year and a half to finish but there was 6 months where I did not work on my paisley.

It is not as good as Jefferey Bale's work but I am proud of my 1st attempt.

Resources for this project:
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  • Annette Annette on Jun 18, 2020

    Are the stones all natural colors or did you paint some? I love the colors that are appearing to be bright pinks, purples and blues...They almost take on a precious gem quality....Are they all from the Mexican mix I am directed to on Amazon?

  • Lonnie Lonnie on Jun 18, 2020

    Take a bow, Kudos to you. A beautiful labor of love to last the decades. thanks for sharing your gorgeous multicolored rocks & isn't it nice to get them out of the box so that we all can enjoy their beauty & your wonderful artistic work.

    PS. How's your back?

  • Hedi P Berry Hedi P Berry on Jun 30, 2020

    This is absolutely amazing work!!!

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