How to Install Landscape Rock for Backyard Decor and Rock Gardens

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Landscape rock can be a simple and effective way to transform your garden, especially if you’ve got an area where plants fail to thrive or is difficult for you to maintain. Rock gardens can be low maintenance and are a great place to try new and exciting planting schemes.

But – how can you install landscape rock and make it look good while enhancing your garden and homestead?

In this guide – we’ll show you our exact process for installing landscape rock without fuss.

Sound good?

Let’s continue!

How to Install Landscape Rock

Installing landscape rocks is easy – but it takes a little elbow grease depending upon the size of your landscaping rocks or homestead. Here are the basic steps involved.

  1. Planning and Clearing
  2. Install Weed Barriers – If Needed
  3. Lay an Optional Layer of Sand
  4. Place Your Rocks and Firmly Set Them
  5. Level Your Rocks – Neatness Counts

Here is our process for how to install landscape rocks.

smooth river landscape rocks juniper tree
We love natural landscape rocks for backyard and residential decor. You might even get lucky enough to find native stones on your homestead that you can repurpose as a lovely rock garden. Installing natural landscape rocks is much easier on your budget – but it will cost you some elbow grease. For sure!

1. Planning and Clearing

Installing landscape rocks always starts with careful planning. Once you install landscape rocks – you won’t want to move them. So – plan and prosper!

Which rocks do you want? Large or small? What size and colors? And where do you want them?

We recommend a flat surface if possible. That’s where clearing comes into play. You should remove any clutter, garden toys, sticks, weeds, and yard debris from your prospective rock garden.

2. Install Weed Barriers – If Needed

Our homesteading friends usually love rock gardens for nooks of their yard where fruits and veggies won’t grow. But – sometimes, weeds can flourish where other plants won’t!

So we sometimes recommend using weed barriers underneath landscaping rocks. Other homesteaders detest weed barriers – and we also argue that if you place landscaping rocks thick enough – you probably won’t need weed barriers. If you commit to natural weed removal? You can skip the weed barrier.

3. Lay an Optional Layer of Sand

Unless you have a sloped backyard, we try to install landscaping rocks on a flat surface. If you have small hills and valleys in your yard, sand is the best equalizer.

You can fill any holes and gaps with landscaping sand.

Sand also helps keep your landscaping rocks in place! You can easily position them precisely how you want if you have a thick layer of landscaping sand.

beautiful backyard decor landscape rocks
Rock gardens and installing landscape rocks is an excellent idea if you live in a dry climate. Landscape rocks help to xeriscape! And the cost of water isn’t getting any cheaper. We’ve noticed a trend of droughts increasing throughout western US states. More reason to install landscape stones in your garden.

4. Place Your Rocks and Firmly Set Them

Placing and installing the landscaping stones is infinitely easier on a flat surface! It’s also easy to gently nest heavier boulders or stones in a thick bed of sand. Sand can also improve the design of your rocks and add contrasting colors and styles. You can also use sand alternatives!

Rubber or wooden mulch also enhances your rock garden and landscaping stone design – and they help stifle weeds.

5. Add Rock Garden Enhancements

Creativity can make or break your rock garden – and your landscaping rocks. Sometimes, we spend all day finding the perfectly shaped landscaping rock for every spot in the rockery garden.

Once you decide on the perfect location? Look to enhance your rock garden! Try to find local herbs with white flowers and other contrasting colors to help finish your design. Or – consider shade-loving herbs to help bring your rock garden to life.

That’s another reason we often skip the weed barrier. Your rock garden is the perfect place to grow a variety of herbs. You can also nestle potted plants inside your rock garden if your soil isn’t the best.

Now that we’ve discussed how to install landscape rocks – we should also talk about the landscape rock nuances that most homesteaders overlook.

When installing landscape rocks, also consider the following.

Read More – Get Our Free Homesteading Goodies! Sour Bread Recipe, Animal Fodder, and Tree Guilds!

What’s the Best Rock Size for Landscaping?

There is no definitive answer to this, as it depends entirely on what you want! Small landscaping rocks are great for covering areas of ground, while larger landscaping rocks can get used for creating a striking visual effect.

One of my favorite ways to use landscaping rock is to combine several sizes to give the impression of a varying landscape. Smaller landscaping rocks can get used for creating pathways, with medium and heavier landscaping rocks spreading out into the planting areas. Large boulders can be dotted around to create focal spots. Boulders are also a nice place to sit and admire your garden!

lovely landscape design landscape rocks fountain
Who says you need massive landscape rocks or boulders? Not us! Using tiny river pebbles or small landscape stones is an excellent way to complement a walkway, garden, patio, or rockery. Small pebbles and stones are also much easier on your back when installing, leveling, and raking them. Plus – tiny rocks can help stifle or prevent weeds from growing in your garden.

Should I Put Plastic Under River Rock?

Many homesteaders advocate putting plastic under rock gardens to suppress weeds, but this is not a good option for the environment.

Plastic will suffocate the soil and cut it off from essential water and moisture. Rainwater will not get absorbed. So you may run into problems with rainwater runoff or localized flooding.

Plastic will also start breaking down over time, leaving thousands of tiny pieces of plastic under your landscape rock. We’re not plastic advocates.

Should I Put Sand Under Landscaping Rocks?

Sand is superior to plastic. Sand can be tremendously helpful under landscaping rocks, as it helps to bed them into the ground and keep them secure. Securing your landscaping rocks and boulders is essential if you use heavier boulders that need setting into the ground.

The great thing about sand is that it will blend well with your rock, hiding the soil underneath. It is also surprisingly easy to pull up pesky weeds that take root in a layer of garden sand!

Read More – How to Make a Bubbling Rock Fountain DIY

Installing Landscape Rocks –FAQs

Now we’ve got you all inspired to give landscaping rock a try? Let’s answer the most common questions about using this simple but effective garden decoration!

Read More – 13 Trees Perfect for Growing in Rocky Soil! Including Fruit Trees!

Best Landscaping Stones for Easy Installation

Installing landscape rocks doesn’t have to be a grueling headache!

We found some of the best-reviewed landscape stones and rocks perfect for rockery gardens, flower beds, raised beds, and pathways.

We also tried to find the lightest stones possible – so you can avoid straining your knees and back when installing these stones.

  1. Premium Large Mixed Mexican Beach Pebbles | LF Inc.

    Want versatile landscaping stones that aren't too heavy to use? These Mexican beach pebbles upgrade your flower bed, backyard, or garden pathway. The rocks are around three to five inches - and range in color. The landscaping stones are easy to install - and the total weight is approximately 50 pounds.

    Get More Info

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    06/18/2024 11:11 pm GMT
  2. River Bed Rock Enclosure | Dekorra

    We love these massive landscape stone covers! They're perfect for covering up outdoor elements you want to hide - like your septic tank lid or exterior electrical outlets. The build is solid and withstands the rain, snow, and sleet. These landscaping stones also look authentic and get made in the USA!

    Get More Info

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    06/18/2024 02:26 pm GMT
  3. Personalized Garden Stones Engraved | Poolrcfilters

    These custom-made ornamental landscape stones get hand-painted and carved! They only weigh around .75 pounds - and are the easiest to install. And they look elegant. They get your personalized message engraved with a laser - making the perfect gift.

    Get More Info

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    06/18/2024 06:27 pm GMT
  4. River Rocks for Painting | Jinnseiyoi

    Have you ever thought about painting your landscaping stones? Then these landscape rocks are perfect. They're the ideal size for decorating. That way - you can add custom color, style, and personality to your garden. Painting rocks is also relaxing and a great creative outlet. Each landscape stone is approximately two to three inches.

    Get More Info

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    06/18/2024 06:41 am GMT
  5. Glow in The Dark Stones Garden Pebbles | Chic Style
    $29.99 $21.99

    We love the ambiance these glow-in-the-dark landscape stones create! They're tremendously light (and small) and easy to install. The entire pack only weighs 2.4-pounds. They're perfect for terrariums, gardens, and walkways. Or throw them in your fish tank, pond, or waterfall. But - the rocks are tiny. If you want to decorate a large area - plan accordingly.

    Get More Info

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    06/19/2024 03:25 am GMT
  6. Ladybug Stepping Stones for Gardens and Flower Beds | Lakeside Collections
    $34.99 $32.99

    Ladybug landscape stones can brighten up your flower garden. Big time! They look adorable and draw attention to any area of your yard. But - they aren't the most durable landscape stones. We recommend installing these landscaping stones around garden beds, mulch gardens, bushes, and other places where you won't step on them.

    Get More Info

    PAID LINK - We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    06/17/2024 08:53 pm GMT


We love to install landscape rocks in areas where nothing else grows but weeds! Landscaping rocks look beautiful as part of a garden, walkway, or backyard.

Installing landscape rocks is tricky, but we hope our guide made the process easier.

What about your experience? Do you use landscaping rocks for backyard decor and garden inspirations?

If so – we’d love to hear about your experience!

Which landscaping rocks are best for gardening and outdoors?

We value your insights – and hope to hear from you!

Thanks so much for reading.

Have a great day!

Read More – 8 Best Mulch Alternatives for a Beautiful Garden!

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