How To Create A Pollinator Friendly Rock Garden


Excerpted from how stuff works

Rock Garden
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.

1. Excavate

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.

Rock Garden 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

2. Put down the drainage layer

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.

3. Put down the sand layer

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

4. Put down the soil layer

Rock Garden Construction 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 plants:

•  1 part topsoil
•  1 part leaf mold (peat or humus can be substituted)
•  1 part small gravel

5. Rock out!

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

6. Let it be

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.

7. Plant flowers

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.

8. Enjoy!

Rock Garden 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.

10. Pollinator-friendly rock garden plants

•  Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
•  Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)
•  Closed Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)
•  Downy Phlox (Phlox pilosa)
•  Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
•  Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica)
•  Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica)
•  Plantain-leaved Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)
•  Prairie Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium campestre)
•  Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)
•  Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)
•  Sharp Leaved Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba)
•  Stiff Aster (ionactis linariifolius)

9. Popular 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)