The Q&A Archives: Huge Yard Almost Solid Rock

Question: I just retired and bought a house with just under one acre of yard. I want to landcape and grow a garden but my land is almost solid rock. I don't know where to start. Please help me.

Answer: Well, the plus side of having rocky soil is that you've got great drainage! The down side is that no matter how many rocks you remove, there are always more. But having a ready supply of rocks can be a good thing. Rocks make great borders, walls, and when placed throughout the garden bed, add interest and dimension to a flat site. And of course rock piles provide cover for small critters, thereby satisfying one of the requisites of a good wildlife habitat.

The trick to gardening in rocky soil, especially if you are doing the work yourself, is to start small. With your grand plan in place, start at one end and move at your own pace. Have the proper tools; a crow bar and a wheelbarrow are a must. Stockpile the rocks in areas where you think you might use them later on, and as you remove rocks, add compost-rich soil to the voids you've created. Stick with only one-gallon plants, even trees and shrubs, to make your job a little easier. Don't worry about having to make the area completely rock-free. If you choose native plants that are used to growing in rocky soil, they will have no trouble making their way as long as you have provided enough soil for them to get started.

If you are working with a large area, prepare the back half as described above, and have a rock garden all along the front half. If you have rocks at the surface, and they are all at one level, rearrange them until you are pleased with the result. Add large rocks and groupings of smaller rocks. When you have the rocks arranged to your liking, then it's time to think about plants. Consider where you would like some vertical elements, different textures, etc. In the front, choose small plants that can be tucked in among the rocks, and here is where you really can have fun. There are so many beautiful native plants to use for this type of garden.

I know that this will be a lot of work, but there are few things more beautiful than a rock garden with a woodland behind it. If you think you have the patience for this project, go for it!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "sunset on summer"