Dos and Don’ts of Landscaping with Rocks

Landscaping with rocks can bring a unique and visually appealing dimension to your outdoor space. Whether you’re creating a serene garden, a functional pathway, or a striking focal point, rocks can play a significant role in enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of your landscape. However, like any landscaping endeavor, there are certain dos and don’ts that can help you achieve the best results.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of landscaping with rocks to help you create a stunning and harmonious outdoor environment.

Embrace Variety for a Captivating Landscape

Don’t limit yourself to one size and color of rock: That creates a monotonous landscape. Instead, consider a diverse range of rock sizes, colors, and textures. Incorporating various types of rocks adds visual interest and reflects the natural diversity found in desert environments.

Do use different types of rocks in different places: Frame a flagstone path with a complementary shade of gravel to create an appealing contrast. Alternatively, fashion a dry river bed with river rocks winding through your garden to mimic the beauty of nature.

Balance Rocks and Plants for a Harmonious Oasis

Don’t eliminate plants altogether from your landscape: A home with nothing but rock landscaping can seem harsh. Moreover, rocks absorb sunlight, contributing to heat buildup inside your house and higher air conditioning bills.

Do soften the effect of rocks and maintain a cooler property by adding plants: Incorporate desert-adapted plants such as palo verdes, mesquites, Texas sage, and agaves. These plants not only enliven your landscape but also provide shade, reducing the overall heat absorbed by the rocks. Vibrant flowering plants can further enhance your space by attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

Create a Natural Aesthetic with Thoughtful Arrangement

Don’t line up large rocks in a neat row: This unnatural alignment clashes with the organic look of desert landscapes and may not complement your home.

Do arrange boulders of varying sizes in a natural-looking, complementary fashion: For an authentic appearance, opt for uneven numbers of large rocks, as nature rarely produces symmetrical formations. This arrangement adds depth and character to your landscape.

Plan Carefully for a Seamless Integration

Don’t order a shipment of rocks without some forethought and preparation: Blindly introducing rocks to your landscape might lead to a disjointed look.

Do make a detailed plan before purchasing rocks: Measure your outdoor space, taking into account any trees or bushes you intend to plant. Use graph paper to create a scaled landscape plan, ensuring you allocate the right amount of space for each element. This planning step allows you to calculate the right quantity of rocks for adequate coverage.

Ensure Natural Placement for Authenticity and Safety

Don’t just plop a giant boulder down in your backyard without preparing the surface first: Such an approach doesn’t emulate natural rock formations and may pose safety risks.

Do dig a hole about a quarter of the size of the boulder to bury its bottom: This method not only anchors the boulder in place but also replicates the way boulders are naturally positioned in the ground. By blending the boulder with the landscape, you create a more convincing and secure arrangement.


Landscaping with rocks can transform your outdoor space into a captivating and picturesque haven. By following these dos and don’ts, you can ensure that your rock features harmonize with the rest of your landscape, creating a beautiful and functional environment that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Check out 8 Landscaping Rock Types: How to Choose Perfectly for more ideas.