Depending on maintenance and durability, you can expect the average landscaping to last up to a decade. As such, it’s important to always be on the lookout for landscaping options that can last longer when it’s time to replace it.
One of the best ways to make a more durable landscaping is with landscape rocks. But what are the best rocks for landscaping, and how many are practical?
If you’re curious about exploring decorative rocks as one of your landscaping options, we’re here to help. Read on for a thorough guide on what the best types of rocks are for landscaping.
Why Use Rocks?
To start, why bother with rocks? Landscaping is full of options that are affordable, aesthetically pleasing, and durable. What makes rocks better than mulch or sod? Here are the four main perks of using landscape rocks.
One of the primary reasons that people will aim for landscape rocks is for the unique aesthetic that rocks and stones offer. They’re ideal for some designs such as rustic, desert, or beachy aesthetics.
They can also provide a more homey, cottage-like feeling to some personal areas. Stepping stones for a walking path are a particularly popular option. Many businesses will also aim for such looks in outside areas.
Another excellent benefit is that stones are low maintenance. Once they’re in place, there’s little work or upkeep that needs doing.
There are some exceptions, such as gravel needing refilling over time. It’s common for gravel or small stones to become displaced or go missing. Once a year, many landscapers will replenish these landscaping areas.
Another exception is stepping stones, which can grow dirty from being walked on. They’re also breeding grounds for some algae, which can become slippery when wet.
Finally, as with any landscaping option, weeds are possible. However, weeds have a much harder time poking through stone than with other landscaping options.
Durable and Long-Lasting
Along with the low maintenance, stone and rock landscaping options are more durable than most other options. When you compare it to arguably the most popular landscaping option, mulch, this is doubly true.
Mulch will deteriorate and rot over time. Sources conflict on the exact time, as it depends on factors like weather, soil quality, moisture, and the mulch. Generally speaking, mulch will deteriorate within two to seven years.
Other options may last longer but are much more sensitive to external factors. Specifically, this is an issue with many plants.
Common flowers will vary depending on your location. Tropical perennial flowers that are commonly used require specific care and attention to keep them lustrous.
Landscaping rocks don’t require much care, nor will they deteriorate. You can set your landscaping with your rocks, check in now and then, and otherwise enjoy your beautiful landscape.
Finally, most types of rocks are not expensive options. The true cost will vary heavily depending on what you’re having landscaped. Businesses tend to have more space, meaning you’ll need more rocks to set up the area.
Landscaping rocks are also exceptionally varied, helping you design a budget. Generally speaking, gravel is one of the least expensive, helping you landscape areas to a sleek and rustic aesthetic without breaking the bank.
Even pricier options such as custom stepping stones are still often cheaper than some other options. Another factor to consider is the money you’re saving on durability and low maintenance. You won’t need to replace your landscaping rocks as often as other options, saving money in the long run.
What Are the Best Rocks for Landscaping?
How can you decide what are the best rocks for landscaping? Here are some factors to consider when looking for what rocks to use in your designs.
One of the first things to consider is always cost. If you’re landscaping for your business, this is especially important, as you’re often working on a tight budget. When landscaping personal areas, you can often work with a bit more flexibility.
Rocks are generally cheaper in the long run, while some types of rocks are the cheapest available. Gravel is often the cheapest you’ll find, which is a great choice for hedges, flowerbeds, and pathways.
Another important factor is your personal preference for the rocks you use. Mostly, this refers to what aesthetic you would like for your business.
One common example is the use of lava rocks in flower beds. These rocks are porous, helping water flow through and into the plants’ roots. They’re also lightweight, relatively cheap, and provide a beautiful island aesthetic.
Location and Weather
Finally, you should think of where you’ll put the rocks and what sort of weather you deal with. Generally speaking, rocks are not as vulnerable to weather as other landscaping options.
There are still a few risks and hazards to consider. For example, do you live somewhere that often deals with severe storms? Wind can disturb and displace some light stones, such as gravel or small river rocks.
If it’s constantly raining where you live (or the rocks are near sprinklers), you’ll likely have algae growth. If you’re using stepping stones, this is particularly common. Think of where you’re putting the stones and what sort of rock will work best in that location.
Common Landscape Scenery Rocks
With all else said, there are two common types of landscape rocks: scenery and “practical” rocks. Scenery rocks are beautiful to look at, but are rarely interacted with, and seldom used as paths. Here are three of the most common scenery rocks.
“River rock” is a blanket term for rocks from the bed of a river. In some cases, these rocks are manufactured to aim for this appearance instead. These rocks are typically smooth, small enough to fit in your palm, and oval-shaped or round.
River rocks are great for water features or decorating hedge beds. They’re not too expensive but also aren’t the cheapest option.
Lava rocks are commonly used for hedges, flower beds, and other out-of-the-way areas. These are dim, burnt orange rocks that are porous and lightweight. They’re often bought in bulk due to their easy transportation and lightweight.
These rocks are sometimes used for pathways, but this is an uncommon practice. If someone is walking barefoot over this area, it’d be exceptionally uncomfortable. Otherwise, they’re one of the most popular landscaping rocks.
Crushed stone is the mulch of the landscape rocks world. As the name suggests, this is stone of all sorts roughly crushed and spread around.
Crushed stone is not acceptable for anywhere that someone will walk, whether it’s a home or a business. The crushing process can leave sharp, jagged edges, making this a dangerous substance to walk on.
However, it’s a low-cost and aesthetically pleasing option for areas that no one will walk on. Keep this rock away from paths and in the scenery.
Common Practical Rocks
Practical rocks are rocks that will have an interactable element in your landscaping. These rocks are most commonly used for pathways, but also might find a home close to a path.
Other “dangerous” types of rock, such as crushed stone, are often kept away from pathways. Primarily, this is because a rock may fall onto the path, creating a hazard. These rocks are all safe to use near a path, as well as for scenery.
Flagstone is one of the most common landscaping rocks but is also among the most expensive. Flagstone is often used as flooring, pathways, and other such uses.
Flagstone is a large, flat surface that can vary depending on the stone. The areas between the stones are often sealed and are waterproof. These are great for a permanent fixture.
Brick is less common as a landscaping material, but will still sometimes appear. Some clients will want brick as a business, especially in rustic areas or industries. Breweries and restaurants, for example, frequently employ bricks.
Bricks are great for being porous enough to let water pass through. By doing so, bricks prevent flooding, muddy paths, and other annoyances. They’re also long-lasting and relatively permanent, though not so stubborn that moving them is a pain.
Finally, pea gravel is arguably the most common rock for landscaping of any sort. One of the main reasons for this is that pea gravel is relatively cheap, while also being useful for nearly any application.
Many paths are made with pea gravel. The spaces between the gravel let water pass through, while the rocks often smother out any weeds. It’s cheap, easy to use, and only requires replenishment as upkeep.
Exploring Your Landscaping Options
Deciding what are the best rocks for landscaping depends heavily on your needs, budget, and preferences. Think of what rocks best fit your aesthetic and which are safe to use for pathways.
At Fox Landscape Supply, we’re happy to handle your landscaping needs. We carry stones from decorative garden stones to the perfect gravel for your pathways. Contact us to see how we can help bring new life to your landscape.