Ready To Rock Garden?

East Tennessee provides plenty of challenging terrain for gardeners.  Our yards often contain a sloping area on which it would be impossible to maintain a turf grass lawn.  These slopes make an excellent site for a Rock Garden.  More than just a rough bank planted with juniper, rock gardens are interesting collections of low growing plants chosen for their colorful seasonal flowering.  Natural rock outcroppings just beg to become a planted garden.  We may also add more native stone to the landscape slope to help prevent erosion & add interest.

Selecting Rock Garden Plants

Rock Garden plants are dwarf and slow growing.  They should tolerate local weather extremes & grow no more than 12″ tall.  Plants suitable for beginner rock gardeners include Sedums, Dwarf Bulbs, Dwarf Conifers, Creeping Phlox, Ice Plants, Violas, Iris, Thyme & Dianthus.  As with any perennial garden, choose plants with varying bloom times.  Incorporate some plants with evergreen foliage as well.  Color & texture variation adds to the tapestry effect rock gardens are appreciated for.  Also interesting is the way these plants grow around and cascade over the rocks.  You can add a pea gravel topdressing to complement these low growing plants.

Constructing A Rock Garden

Don’t have a slope?  You can create a 3′ high raised bed, adding a foot of drainage material & 2 feet of topsoil mixed with soil conditioner.  Drainage material can be coarse gravel or broken concrete & brick.  Place larger  boulders on top of the drainage fill and then begin mounding the good soil in and around the rocks.  Fill in with smaller rocks as needed and place plants accordingly.  Top-dress with small gravel.  Rock gardens turn an eyesore of a bare slope into an attractive asset.  Building a mound on an uninteresting flat landscape will also lend itself to Rock Gardening.  Try something different this Spring and start a beautiful Rock Garden in your yard.

January Garden To-Do List