How to Plan a Rock Garden

Caring for a Rock Garden

Rock gardens are not difficult to maintain.

Rock gardens are not hard to maintain, which is great for gardeners. In fact, most rock garden care simply involves removing weeds on a regular basis. Even this task will diminish as the rock plants establish themselves and fill in any gaps where weeds might grow.

By covering any exposed soil with a layer of crushed rock, weed seeds will have a difficult time getting started. In a rock garden, weeds must be removed by hand, preferably as soon as they appear. Herbicides, even when carefully sprayed, tend to drip down rock surfaces and harm desirable plants.

Less hardy rock garden plants can be protected during the winter with spruce or pine branches or some other light mulch. Fallen leaves and other moisture-retentive debris should be removed as soon as it accumulates; most alpine plants rot when in contact with damp materials.

Prune as needed to control any plants that spread beyond their limits. Many low-growing, matting alpine plants can also be cut back hard after flowering to encourage the formation of new, healthy growth. Finally, don't be afraid to move plants that appear unhappy.

Most of the information given above describes the preparing and planting of rock gardens for sunny sites. Although this is the most traditional form of rock garden, there is no reason you cannot produce a beautiful rock garden in shady conditions. Use a richer soil mix with plenty of organic matter since most shade-loving plants prefer a moisture-retentive mixture.

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