Pollinator-Friendly Rock Gardens
Few are able to deny the magnetism that rock gardens have. If you've never seen one, a rock garden is simply a
plot with a mix of rocks and any of several special species of small flowers. Some would say that because rocks
are permanent, solid and rugged, they complement the delicacy of flowers. The Japanese recognized the calming
and meditative effect of rock arrangement when they developed the Zen garden. Fortunately, forging a beautiful
and relaxing rock garden in your yard is surprisingly simple.
When you've learned just a few tricks of the trade, you can create an effective rock garden that seamlessly blends into your
landscape. If you happen to have a gentle slope in your yard that gets plenty of sun, this is the perfect place to build a
natural-looking rock garden. If you aren't so lucky, however, you still have plenty of options.
The Japanese recognized the calming and meditative effect of rock arrangement when they
developed the Zen garden. Fortunately, forging a beautiful and relaxing rock garden in your
yard is surprisingly simple.
Choose the exact site of your rock garden, and section it off with posts and string. Preferably, you should dig
the foundation on a day when the soil seems relatively dry. Dig down at least 1 foot , and get
rid of all remaining weeds and roots
If you don't have a natural slope on which to build your garden, you may choose instead to build a raised bed,
which is an elevated plot upheld by walls. Experts recommend digging down about three feet
for a raised bed. You can fill in the foundation layers as you build the walls, which can be made
of brick or concrete. For a more rustic look, you can construct mortarless walls out of limestone or sandstone.
The higher the walls, the more likely you'll deter pets from treading on your delicate flowers.
Another option for planting a rock garden on flat land is to pile up your own mound, known as a berm. One
advantage of a berm is that it slopes down naturally at all sides, promoting drainage. This is helpful if you're
including a variety of plants in your garden, some of which need more water than others. You can plant those
near the bottom of the berm's slope and the ones that require less water near the top of the mound
The first layer of your foundation absorbs excess moisture from the soil above it. To this end, experts recommend
throwing in a hodgepodge of clunky rocks, old pieces of concrete or brick and even broken pieces of clay pots.
Pack this layer in evenly to make up about one-third to one-half of your trench's depth.
The sand acts as a water-permeable layer that holds up the topsoil. Experts recommend layering a few inches
(about 7 centimeters) of coarse sand between the drainage layer and the soil layer
Put down the soil layer. This all-important layer can make or break your rock garden plants. Mix together a soil
hat will allow your flowering plants to bloom to their full potential. Although some plants might call for slightly
different variations on this mixture, experts recommend the following combination that supports most rock garden
1 part topsoil
1 part leaf mold (peat or humus can be substituted)
1 part small gravel
Ideally, you could use rocks found naturally on your land for constructing your rock garden. But there aren't
always a lot of rocks available in your backyard, so you may want to check out a home improvement store that
carries landscaping rocks. Choose rocks that will blend in with your lawn. Experts recommend getting one variety
of rock in many different sizes. Arrange them by scattering them in a natural-looking setting.
For larger, boulder-size rocks, it's important to dig them into the ground at least a third of the way. This makes
them look as though Mother Nature put them there and you didn't just drop them on your garden plot
Before you jump into planting flowers, let the garden settle for a while. Chances are, after a few weeks, the soil will
have fallen a bit. When this happens, fill with the leftover mix of soil you made in step four.
Like we mentioned above, picking the most successful rock garden flowers for your climate and garden might take
some experimenting. Begin by planting only a scattering of a few flowers. As this first batch grows, observe how
they do and how the garden looks as a whole. Later, you can always move the flowers to a new location in the
garden and add more as you see fit.
Rock gardens are very low-maintenance, but you should be on the lookout for weeds. As soon as they appear,
make sure to pull them out by hand. Weed killers might be too harsh on the rock garden flowers.
Closed Bottle Gentian
Prairie Blue Eyed Grass
Purple Prairie Clover
Sharp Leaved Hepatica
For a complete catalog of Wisconsin native plants for rock garden plants:
Yellow alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)
Purple ice plant (Delosperma spp.)
Angelina stonecrop (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina')
Dragon's blood stonecrop (Sedum spurium)
Hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)
Creeping thyme (Thymusserpyllum)
Blue fescue ornamental grass(Festuca glauca)
Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)
Ajuga (Ajuga reptans)
Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata)
Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata)
Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides)