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How To Make A Rock Garden

A Guide to DIY Rock Gardens

Need a little more zen in your life? With some sweat, patience and know how, you can build a little sanctuary of your own. Here’s your step by step guide to building your own rock garden.

Step One: Clear the area
This is pretty self explanatory, since you can’t start to build your garden until you’ve decided where to put it and primed it for planting. Remove all the brush and debris from the chosen space, using a leaf blower will save time and energy. Then, use a shovel to dig the bushes out from the roots and a sharp set of shears to get rid of any branches. Once the larger plants have been cleared, use a hoe to remove the smaller shrubs or foliage. It’s also important that you prepare the area for the addition of stone, plants, and mulch. Do this by separating the lawn from the bed space by using an edger to create an edge. The edge should be deep so that over time any mulch or stone that does wash out goes into the edge and not onto the lawn. Step Two: Play around with design layout. Now that your garden’s canvas is blank, here comes the fun part. Now you get to decide on your overall design and plan out the features. Use inverted marking paint to map out your plan and get a feel for how everything flows together. If you make a mistake, the markings can be removed, so keep switching things around until it feels right.

(Note: The photos seen below are examples and do not represent a project from start to finish)

DIY Rock Garden Guide

Step Three: Select and install the stones
Choose a variety of stones, pebbles and rocks to work with. Options include large boulders, small boulders or flat stones for the walkway, or even colored riverbed stones and flagstone to create texture and interest. Once you’ve made your selection, you can begin to place them. Create a footing to set the boulders so they both stay in place and look natural. Start with the biggest stones first and work your way backwards, being careful not to injure yourself.

Japanese Rock Garden Portland, Oregon

Step Four: Choose your plants
Look for plants that are suited to your local climate. They should have multiple textures to enhance and not clash with the aesthetics of your rock garden. If you’re unsure of what plants would be best for your project, don’t hesitate to ask one of the experts at your local nursery.

Rock Supply for Rock Gardens Portland, Oregon

Step Five : Build the riverbed
Use juniper bushes, small boulders, and river bed stone to create a simulated river. Set the junipers in place by using using a combination of peat moss and fertilizer. The peat moss helps to hold water next to the plant, while the fertilizer nourishes it. Once the junipers are set, dig out the river bed and follow the line of the flowers, placing your boulders along it to create a natural looking ‘flow’. Follow this up by adding the small river bed stone to keep everything in place.

Do It Yourself Rock Garden

Step Six: Plant those plants
Now that your riverbed has been build, you can start to place the rest of your plants. Work down the landscape and play around with the layout arrangement. Take your time when deciding on the final look, and don’t forget to step back every now and again to look at your work. This helps you make sure you aren’t grouping too many of the same plants together. It’s important to purposely mix plant textures and colors, as this keeps your design looking natural and not too ‘done.’

How To Create Your Own Rock Garden

Step Seven: Add a walkway
As the final touch, create the stepping stone area. This pathway will serve as a good place to weed and water from, as well as a charming decorative addition. Dry lay the stones to check for placement and then set them. Then step back and admire your little DIY sanctuary. A job well done.

Guide To Creating A Rock Garden


If you’re interested in building your very own oasis on your property like the ones seen in the images above, give us a call. We carry a huge variety of rock products that are perfect for creating rock gardens like these. From the fine rounded rock gravel that makes up the majority of a rock garden to the signature boulder type rocks that are scattered throughout, we have it all at one of our various Portland, Oregon area rock quarries.  We are proud to provide premium rock products and over the years have become a premier Portland rock supply company. Contact us today to schedule a drop off or pick up of your materials.