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23. Creating a Rock Garden!

When you mention a garden, most people automatically think of flowers or vegetables. But I have found that there are many types of gardens in addition to these ‘regular’ green gardens. I have also discovered the use of rock gardens which is very popular for people in dry climates or who have property with steep slopes where maintaining grass or other types of gardens is impossible. Mixing a rock garden in with your green plant and flower gardens are a wonderful way to expand your view outside your window!

Rock gardens are not difficult to create but just as with any type of landscaping, you want to first decide where you will place the garden and how you want the final design to look.

First, rocks that are native to your geographical location will be the easiest to find, cheapest to purchase, and will provide you with the most natural look. The best rocks to obtain are ones that are irregular in shape since this will provide a unique appearance. Although you will want the majority to consist of large rocks, you will need some smaller ones as well. A great choice in rock no matter where you live is limestone, which is soft, porous, and allows moisture to seep through.

Start at the lowest point of the property, set the rocks and then move your way upward. Once the rocks are in place, allow the soil to settle over a couple of days, then stand back from a distance to determine what adjustments need to be made. You can add a few flowers, plants or even a tree to this garden to fulfill the look.

You could choose plants that will only bloom in the spring for use in your rock garden like low growing perennials. These are one of the best options you can use so you don’t have to mess with this part of your landscape over and over again when you can be focusing on other areas of your garden. Strategic placement of heathers, herbs, and annuals will also add a nice splash of color during the summer months.

Some of the favorite choices for perennials are: (and these are not just in rock gardens but for placement close to the house as well!) Anemone, Calla Lily, Balloon Flower, English Ivy, Snowdrop, Crocus, Wand Flower, Chionodoxa, Phlox, Epimedium. Annual choices of plants that you might include are (but not limited to): Tidy Tips, Baby’s Breath, Summer Savory, Sanvitalia, Clarkia, Baby Blue-eyes, Verbena, Zinnia, Torenia

Caring for a rock garden is based on the care of the plants used. Using a small utensil such as a garden fork, loosen the soil and add in a little compost or manure for a natural, healthy boost. So, when you are using perennials in your rock garden, you might find that you only have to touch up of revamp this area of your garden once a year!

Cut back any plants after flowering, cut of dead portions, and when the plants become too large, divide them to provide more room. Cut weeds out of nooks and crannies or gently spray with a weed killer that will not harm your plants. In the wintertime, plants used in rock gardens are generally more exposed. You can lay down a good layer of heavy mulch before the first freeze to protect your plants in the rock garden for the following spring. Rock gardens are an alternative to the traditional flower garden and will enhance even the toughest of yards.

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