Positioning rocks to mimic those in nature requires patience and the ability to plan as you go. Here are some helpful guidelines.
- Group rocks together, leaving the occasional one on its own.
- Avoid arranging stones in rows or placing them so they look like chocolate chips in a cookie.
- Rock gardens look more authentic if they’re three to four times wider than their height.
Selecting and siting plants
- Choose plants appropriate to your site conditions, including air circulation, soil and sun.
- The higher up the plants sit, the smaller they should be.
- Upright specimens, such as some conifers, look better at the base of a rock than at the top.
- Keep groupings in proportion; bigger plants such as hostas and ferns look odd teamed with smaller-scale creeping alpine plants.
- Mulch with coarse gravel or crushed stone in the same materials as your rocks to control weeds, prevent moisture loss and moderate soil temperature.
- When the soil dries out, water thoroughly (about three hours) to encourage alpines to send their roots deep.
- Additional fertilizing is usually unnecessary, except in areas where moisture leaches nutrients from the soil.