When you want to create a backyard that is a mix of practicality and beauty, try incorporating landscaping rocks. Using elements you find in your local landscape helps to add originality or authenticity to your design, and landscaping rocks come in several sizes and shapes that allow you to create unique areas throughout your yard. Also, they work well in tiny yards or huge spaces, and they’re a fantastic way to create a unique focal point like a rock garden into your yard.
You can use your landscaping rocks in a host of creative combinations or just stick with a more sleek and classic look. We’re going to give you 25 innovative ways to incorporate landscape rocks into your yard or garden design, and you can use this guide to gain inspiration to help you transform your own yard in a few short days just in time for the warm weather.
1. Bright Flowers and Rough Rocks
Maybe you have a lot of space between your gazebos, pergolas, or patios with a lot of sloping lawn areas left over. If so, you can easily turn it into a very colorful and cheerful landscape. This design incorporates landscaping rocks with broad patches of bright colored flowers. You can create a dynamic contrast with rugged, craggy rock, and it works well as a flat, stacked, or layered design.
For the best results, style your landscaping rocks like a sprawling terrace garden. Use alternating sections or relatively flat and wide rocks with ground-cover plants like sedums, phlox, or flowering thyme. The rocks can double as stepping stones when you have to plant your flowers or weed between them. You can always go back and add more flowers.
Garden, Spring by debs-eye / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
If you live in an area that is prone to drought, xeriscaping is an easy way to create a lush and full looking yard with landscaping rocks. Xeriscapes are landscape setups that use very little water to stay healthy, and they usually incorporate native plants. This helps to reduce your land’s reliance on staying healthy by having to get a lot of water.
Landscaping rocks are a very easy way to complete a xeriscape project. You could even do a plant-free one and have it look nice. It can give your property a little more personality while staying very environmentally-friendly. If you live in an arid environment, consider adding xeriscaping to your yard to boost your home’s curb appeal.
Xeriscaped House by Person-with-No-Name / CC BY 2.0
3. Gravel for Your Garden
To start this project, tuck your landscaping rocks flush to the ground. You can tuck in a small, decorative bench to give your flower bed or garden plot more of a visual appeal. Pour smaller multicolored stones around the flat rocks to create a small pathway to your bench. The rocks can contrast nicely against the bigger ones, and they can stop weeds from growing.
If you want it to contrast even more, add dark mulch right up against the border of your small landscaping rocks. Next, add a few small flowering bushes to lend height to the area. Your plants will play more of a supporting role here, and you can add in a few shades of green to complete the look.
Dappled Sun by Melinda Young Stuart / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
4. Small Pond
Building a small pond will add an instant attraction to your backyard. You could incorporate a few small koi and floating lily pads or other attractive water plants. Once you get the pond in, you can create a fun border using landscaping rocks. Combine larger rocks with smaller pebbles around the pond’s perimeter. This can help with weed control.
Additionally, the smaller pebbles can be difficult to walk on without shoes, so it can deter people from getting too close to the water. If you want a more dramatic look to your pond, use Caribbean or Mexican beach pebbles because they’re much brighter and more eye-catching. You could even put larger rocks right into the pond and have a small path leading back out.
5. Succulent Garden
Did you know that landscaping rocks pair beautifully with succulents? It’s common for people in drought-affected areas of the nation to use items like rock in their landscaping, and succulents thrive in them. Laying down multicolored pebbles work like a fun rug to help tie your landscaping elements together and give your succulents a solid foundation to grow on.
You could easily add a few succulents widely spaced apart, a lone palm tree, and a low stone wall to create an aesthetically appealing, balanced yard design that is just as appealing as traditional grass and flower beds. You can mix and match landscaping rocks here to help break up the larger pebble beds, and it creates nice contrast if they’re a lighter color.
Succulent Bowl by Reggie1 / CC BY-NC 2.0
6. Rock Lined Walkways
Landscaping rocks make a fantastic walkway edging idea. Most people fail to realize that the more is more philosophy of dealing with this type of rock can lead to a cluttered look, especially when they cram several attention-elements as possible in. This is a direct contrast for a minimalist row of rock edging your garden pathways, walkways, or sidewalks.
Incorporating a narrow band of smaller landscaping rock and having them running parallel to your walkway is a great way to draw your eye. A leafy, deep green plant will help to give you a very asymmetrical, clean look to the space. Vibrant tiger lilies, low-water ornamental grasses, or gladioli would also make stunning additions to your walkways.
Newpath by libraryrachel / CC BY 2.0
7. Stone Steps
Anyone who has a sloping yard can tell you that it can be a challenge to landscape on. It’s also very tricky to mow, and all of your kid’s toys usually end up in the same low spot. However, bi-level yards are excellent for playing games, entertaining, or grilling on a nice day. You can use landscaping rocks to simultaneously connect and separate the two spaces.
You want to get irregular, wide landscaping rocks for this project and securely stack them to create a nice set of stairs. You could have these stairs seamlessly connect to a brick or rock walkway. Adding mulch and shrubs around the stairs help draw attention to it while allowing you to move easily between the two spaces without stepping on anything.
Steps by Matt Malone / CC BY-NC 2.0
8. Combine Lights and Rocks
Once the sun starts to go down, it slowly changes the feel of your entire outdoor living area. Anyone who routinely uses the yard after the sun goes down or someone who likes to sit and unwind will love adding solar lights to their landscaping rock design. The solar lights will illuminate your rock garden design and cast a soft glow around the area to allow you to walk over it.
Use large landscaping stones and seamlessly blend them with shrubs or ornamental trees and smaller pebbles. These rocks will blend nicely in the background during the day. However, at night, they will help to create a beautiful moonscape. This is especially true if you find large solar lights to place strategically on them.
Old light fixtures upcycled by Louise LePierres / CC BY 2.0
9. Break up a Large Lawn
You might like the idea of having a large yard when you first get your property, but taking care of a bigger yard can be very time-consuming and daunting. You may find yourself wondering what you should do with such a large patch of grass. If it’s not level enough to set up areas for lawn games or play equipment for your kids, consider adding landscaping rocks to break it up.
You could easily set up a bee or butterfly garden, herb garden, chicken coop, or even beehives. Use large, boulder-like landscaping rocks to divide these spaces and make neat sections of your yard. They can save you money on pavers and serve as a border to create clean division between your yard and your various designs.
Untitled by Takayuki Miki / CC BY-ND 2.0
It’s easy to introduce a little country charm into your yard or garden by careful use of landscaping rocks and colorful flowers of different heights. You can define a path through your flowers by strewing slate chips across the path’s surface. Adding larger boulders will add height to the space while creating visual interest, and they contrast nicely with the softer flowers.
To complete this look, line your path with an array of colorful flowers. Smaller plants can come right up to the side of the path as it meanders through your garden, and you can set mounds of flowers further back to fill in the space. The large landscaping rocks scattered throughout the design lend an authenticity to the space.
Country Garden, Franktown Ontario by Ross Dunn / CC BY-SA 2.0
11. Modern Rock Garden
For those people who love very sleek lines with a clean and uncluttered look, this design with larger landscaping rock is perfect for you. There are only three main elements in this design, including oversized square pavers, small shrubs that are precisely shaped and pruned, and tiny light grey pebbles surrounding it and filling in the blank space to create a cohesive look.
The design may be very simple, but you’ll get a stunning effect. Adding marble chips instead of traditional stone is another way to kick it up a notch. This gives you a very low-maintenance addition to your yard because the marble chips will stop weed and grass growth. The large pavers are easy to keep clean too.
Modern Rock Garden by Bob Franklin / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
12. Decorate Around Your Mailbox
Picking out a nice landscape rock for an accent may mean that you do a lot of comparison shopping. If you want to carpet a large selection of your space, you can purchase less expensive landscape rock in bulk in the form of gravel. It works well particularly well in small spaces like around your mailbox or in the corners by your front door.
You can get stones that are different colors, or you can pick out single-colored stones to make it more cohesive and modern. If you want a dramatic space that really draws the eye, consider moonlike lava stones or polished black pebbles. These will help add interest to an area that most people tend to overlook, and it’s fantastic for increasing how welcome your home looks.
Mailbox flowers by Amy Aletheia Cahill / CC BY-ND 2.0
13. Stay Inside the Box
People who like geometric, abstract patterns could choose to do a much more stylized lawn. Unlike more traditional landscapes that emulate and incorporate the surrounding area’s natural contours, this design with landscape rock gives you a very deliberately boxy look and feel. It creates a symmetric look that is very aesthetically-pleasing to people who like the abstract.
You can choose from complementary or contrasting landscape rock in your design to fill each different section for striking effects. You can pick out foliage that has a mix of shapes and heights and rocks in different sizes to add further interest. This is very popular in zen-style gardens where everything is neat, orderly, and the lines flow from one part to the next.
Modern Rock by Rictor Norton & David Allen / CC BY 2.0
14. Bring Southwestern Flair
Maybe you want to invoke the sunny feel of the southwest with your landscaping rocks. If so, you’ll arrange a selection of hot-pepper plants, succulents, and some hardy grasses right by and leading up to your door. You’ll fill in the area with several small stones that come in a variety of warm earth tones ranging from burnt sienna to buff.
The warm tones on the landscaping rocks can add a vibrant and fun look to your yard, especially if they’re surrounded by lush green grass. You could even toss in some brightly colored terracotta pots with spills of bright flowers coming out. A few ornamental rose bushes close to the house can help finish the look, and your pathway can meander right in the middle of your design.
Capitol Peak, Sedona by san diego irv / CC BY 2.0
15. Showcase Your Plants
For those who routinely grow rare plants and want to showcase them, it’s easy to do so by creating a simple but effective expanse of smaller landscape rocks that allow the plants to take center stage. You could also use it to showcase your favorite garden sculptures, a pond, or notable rocks. This design works best right off your patio or leading to your front door.
To achieve it, create a simple area that consists of a blanket of smooth pebbles. You can incorporate snowy-white pea gravel or larger creek rocks too. Add a few larger rocks throughout the space around your plants, and bracket the area by walkways. One side could be your patio and the other could be a natural walkway around your yard.
California-06269 – Rock Garden by Dennis Jarvis / CC BY-SA 2.0
16. Line Your Water Feature
If you’re someone who is lucky enough to have a natural pond or creek meandering through your yard, showcase it with landscape rocks to create a natural focal point that draws the eye around the yard. Create a broad border that extends from the water’s edge and add seaweed-like foliage tufts in the form of small shrubs, succulents, or ornamental grasses.
You could add lights too if you want to bring attention to it after dusk. It’ll help cut back on your lawn maintenance because you won’t have to worry as much about cutting right up to the water’s edge. Use smaller landscape rocks for this project and line each edge with larger rocks to create a clean divide between the border and the surrounding yard.
Creek by Daniel McDermott / CC BY-ND 2.0
17. Create Contrast
Who says all of your landscaping rocks have to be the same color? While this can create uniformity and cohesiveness, it can also get boring very quickly. You do want to set up clearly defined borders to keep your rocks apart, but you can create a striking contrast by having different colored, sized, or shaped stones butting right up against one another.
Maybe you want to line the sides of your walkway with darker and more traditional grey landscape rocks. You can offset this by introducing warm reds or stunning yellow rocks once the walkway ends at your front door. Create beds of these lighter colored rocks that run around your home. A thin wood border allows you to keep everything apart by close together.
No. 1164 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada by Billy Wilson / CC BY-NC 2.0
18. Tiered Garden Beds
Creating tiered garden beds that run the length of your yard not only take advantage of your yard’s natural slope and reduce your overall landscape needs, but they also double as smaller retaining walls that can help with soil erosion. You can dig your garden beds right into the hill in your yard and stack landscaping rocks to build up the walls and divide the space.
Ideally, you’ll turn your landscaping rocks into a wall, so this can be quite a project to take on by yourself. Once you get the walls in place, add your shrubs or flowers and apply darker mulch to help prevent weeds from coming up. This will drastically cut down on how much maintenance you need to perform, the amount of mowing you do, and how much water you use to keep everything healthy.
Z raised garden mod_3 by Derek Bridges / CC BY 2.0
19. Budget-Friendly Garden
Maybe you don’t have a large budget for your landscaping but you don’t want to leave it boring and plain grass. One thing you can easily do is section off a prominent area of your lawn and ring it with larger landscape rocks. Fill this area with mulch to help suppress the grass. If you want to add a few larger shrubs or ornamental trees, you’ll have to turn up the soil too.
Plant your items and put larger landscape rocks at random across the design. You won’t spend a lot for these items, and you can easily cover a decently large area in your yard. It’s also very easy to maintain and keep looking nice all year round. You could even dump in a rough pathway of larger rocks through the middle of your design.
South Garden by Bill Barber / CC BY-NC 2.0
20. Asian-Inspired Gardens
Despite what you may think, it’s relatively easy to create a gorgeous Asian-inspired garden in your very own yard. They do tend to incorporate water features like a koi pond, but they’re also known for their large landscape rock features and pathways. You could have rock stairs to move from one point to another, and soft sandstone or bright white rocks lining your pond and pathways.
If you want to kick it up a notch, consider adding an Asian-style gazebo or Asian plants. They could go straight in the ground with your landscaping rocks around them, or you could put them in decorative planters. Add a few Asian-inspired statues, larger rocks, and create a natural flow that moves your eye from one area to another seamlessly.
Asian Garden by Suzie Tremmel / CC BY 2.0
21. Surround the Patio
Even though your patio can create a stunning statement all by itself, you can easily further define it by lining the edges of it with landscape rocks. It can also make it easier to upkeep right around your patio at the same time because you won’t have to worry about mowing or weeding right up to the edges. It’s a good idea to use smaller rock for this project.
Create a small bed for the rocks to go with a short border to help contain them. You could go with darker stones to clearly define the area. This works particularly well if your patio is concrete or a lighter material because it contrasts nicely with the darker rocks. If you have a dark-colored patio, do the opposite and add light colored landscape rocks around it.
Spring Cleaning by Bennilover / CC BY-ND 2.0
22. Add Tropical Design Aesthetics
You will need to live in a warmer climate to pull this landscape rock design off, but if you do, you can easily bring a little slice of the tropics right to your own yard. This design also works better with bright right rocks, especially if your home is a lighter coloring and you can pull off tropical trees, shrubs, and plants to bring in the color you’re missing in your rocks.
If you can, buy a few tropical trees like taller coconut trees and shorter, spiky balls or ornamental grasses. Bring in bright sprays of flowers and space them throughout the greenery. For more height and interest, add a few larger white landscape rocks in the middle of the design. You could have a path wandering around the edge up to your front door to draw more interest.
Desert Botanical Garden by Joshua Wells Photography / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
23. Showcase your Grass
Maybe you’re someone who is extremely proud of your grass and you worked very hard to make it lush, thick, and green. If so, you can use landscape rocks as an accent piece rather than as the main focal point. To do this, you can easily create a nice path winding through your yard. Not only does this give you somewhere to walk while protecting your grass, but it reduces your maintenance.
It’s even possible to create fun areas for your larger plants like hostas or your shrubs. Create areas for your plants and lay the path right around them. You can easily have several small flower beds scattered throughout your yard inside your path while leaving large parts of your grass untouched.
London Peace Garden, London Ontario by Ken Lund / CC BY-SA 2.0
24. Mix and Match Eclectic Rocks
Most people tend to create uniform designs with their landscape rocks that are all the same color or that feature contrasting colors when they put it around their yard or garden layout. However, you can also create a very whimsical look by mixing and matching different size, style, and colors in your rocks all in one location where you can easily see them all.
One easy way to accomplish this is to add pure white stones to your flower beds or decorative areas, and create a thin path that runs through them using smaller brown stones. In the center of the brown stones, you can use larger, flatter, gray landscape rocks to create stepping stones.
東福寺 霊雲院 臥雲の庭 / Japanese Garden of Tofuku-ji Temple by Tetsushi Kimura / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
25. Rock Waterfalls
Water features add an instant calm to your yard with an elegance. The sound of running water can relax you as you sit outside and enjoy your yard. You can use landscape rock that is very flat to build up a nice little pond area. Create a stack of rocks to form a natural waterfall, and put a pump right in the center of the rock pile.
The water will cascade down the rocks, into the pond, and recycle back up to the top of the waterfall. This can take up a majority of your yard or it can sit in a small corner. You could even do a planter waterfall surrounded by a buildup of rock so it looks more natural.
Bibury 22-09-2013 by Karen Roe / CC BY 2.0
These 25 beautiful landscaping rock ideas can inspire you to turn your own yard into an oasis where you can’t wait to go out and relax. Whatever you want, you can reduce your yard maintenance and create an area that is perfect for entertaining on those long spring and summer days.