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How to Build a Rock Flower Bed

Introduce nature into your landscape with a rock flower bed full of perennial plants. This garden is ideal for naturalizing or as a focal bed. A small rock-garden project measuring 12 feet in diameter can be completed in a day. Save time and money by using existing rocks and plants from your yard. The best time to create a rock garden is in the early fall. Select plants of different colors and growing habits. Use native plants for a naturalizing effect.

Things You'll Need

  • String
  • Flour
  • Spade
  • Small stake
  • Spreading rake
  • Hand-trowel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Soil test kit
  • Additional soil nutrients per soil test
  • Rocks of various sizes
  • Mulching material
  • Organic compost
  • Edging material
  • Perennial plants
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  1. Preparation

    • 1

      Choose a suitable location for the flower bed taking existing landscape elements into consideration. Pick a spot where the flower bed can be seen and enjoyed. To save time and energy, select a spot with existing rocks and a natural habit.

    • 2
      A sketch will keep your rock-garden project organized.

      Draw a diagram of the garden including size and location of rocks, plants and any other features you want to add to the garden. Be sure to include existing landscape elements on the map. Mark location of all underground lines or hidden hazards on the map. A sketch is a reference tool that will help keep you organized.

    • 3

      Mark the center of the flower bed with a stick or stake. Attach a 6-foot string to the stake and walk out to measure the circumference of the bed. Mark this outer edge with flour.

    • 4

      Conduct a soil test to determine the need for additional nutrients. Soil test kits are available at local cooperative extension offices or home and garden centers.

    • 5

      Decide on the plants to be used based on your planting zone, soil type and amount of sunlight that the flower bed will receive.


    • 6

      Dig a trench around the area marked with flour. This trench needs to be just deep enough to serve as a marker. Remove the center stake.

    • 7

      Remove all surface debris inside of flower bed. Lift up the top layer of sod using a spade. Be sure to take only the top layer of grass, leaving as much dirt as possible.

    • 8

      Loosen up the dirt with a rake to 8 inches. Break up large clumps of soil with a hand-trowel. Work additional nutrients into soil depending on results of the soil test. Add 3 to 4 inches of well-dried manure or compost and work in to the soil to 6 inches.

    • 9

      Center the largest rock in the middle of the flower bed, this will serve as the focal point. Be sure to dig rock in so that it is stable. Scatter remaining rocks throughout the bed depending on preference. Add medium-sized field stone to the perimeter of the flower bed. This will ensure that the soil does not wash out.

    • 10

      Begin planting with taller plants around the center rock. Surround smaller rocks with low-mounding perennial plants. Leave space between plants for growth. Remember that a rock flower bed should be relaxed, so keep plant groupings loose and flowing. Place ground-hugging flowers around the front edge of the bed.

    • 11

      Water bed thoroughly and cover with a 2-inch layer of mulching material.