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Recycling Rocks in the Garden

When landscaping a garden, we sometimes harvest boulders, stones and rocks out of the earth. Discarding them may be overwhelming. Here’s how to re use them:

As architectural elements in the garden: Use small egg-sized rocks to separate ground level flower beds from gravel paths. Larger rocks may be used to separate a raised flower beds from the lawn. Boulder sized rocks can be placed into the centers of flowerbeds to be used as sculptural objects. Boulders offer a very effective contrast to perennials growing around them. Plant a variegated Iris pallida next to a large grey rock and notice how the grey green and cream on its leaf interacts with the color and texture of the stone. The beauty of each is improved by its proximity to the other.

As structural elements for a Mediterranean garden: A xeri-garden, or a Mediterranean garden, consists of a mound of earth made up of several of the following elements: gravel, rock rubble, pebbles, grit, sand and soil. Larger boulders are sometimes strategically placed on this mound for textural and visual interest or to add an air of Mediterranean authenticity.

One usually finds sun loving and drought tolerant plants growing on this mound. These plants fall into five categories. The first is that of Mediterranean herbs such as Lavender, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Sage and Thyme, especially Thymus pseudolanuginosus. The second includes ground covers such a Phlox subulata, Sedum reflexum, Sempervivum and Euphorbia myrsinites. The third category covers hairy and silver leaved plants such as Stachys lanata and Artemisia. In the fourth, we find upright succulents such as Sedum, and the fifth category includes drought tolerant grasses such as Festuca glauca. Choosing elements from all of these categories allows the creative gardener to juxtapose various leaf colors with different textures for maximum visual appeal.

The Mediterranean garden may also be enhanced with an assortment of small heat and drought tolerant flowering perennials that give this garden a bit of color and pizzazz. This list includes Nepata, Coreopsis, Gaillardia and small Echinacea. When complete, this rocky garden may be finished off with a layer of natural color cedar mulch or gravel.

While both of the above projects entail the expenditure of some physical energy, in the end, they are more satisfying than lugging the rocks to the city dump ourselves or paying a trucking firm to do it for us.

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Reader Comments (2)

Oh I love rocks, stones, peebles ... in gardens. They really improve the appearance of a garden.

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBlossom

Yep, all great ideas- which I plan to use now that I have a pile of them after sifting a new bed out! I'm thinking I'll make some herb labels with some of them and also use some for a wall art project- we'll see :) happy gardening to you.

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