Recently my husband and I decided to set up a rock garden.  Or rather, I made up my mind and he decided foolishly.  Some landscaping rocks were given away by a local nursery so we went by and picked up a load for our outdoor firepit patio.  That led to the idea of the rock garden.  We’ve got a slope facing west that gets full sun and there’s not going to grow grass.  “Dig it and plant rocks!”I’ve said that.

Okay, so I’m going to teach you how to set up a rock garden now. I won’t tell you how we’ve done it because we’ve done it wrong! Should not should my first piece of advice!

Well, if you have to… it’s like this:

Find the rocks. It took three loads for us… we figured it would take only one. We, or rather, from carrying all the rocks, my husband has formed some new muscles. Using a forehead and/or a dolly. We weren’t…that was dumb of us.

Push 18 inches deep. Hopefully your soil is not like our solid clay. There’s no picnic at our age slinging a pickax and shovel. Why do we ask ourselves this? We’ve got the rocks now too late.

Depending on the size and shape of the rocks.  For a more natural look, you should use the same sort of rocks.  In your system, try to emulate mother nature (not easy), having the rocks offset in groups of three from each other so that the soil can catch between them.

Fill in with a pea gravel, topsoil and compost soil mixture.  Next I placed a thin layer of gravel, then the soil mixture overlapped.

Start planting. Choose plants that best match your garden’s visibility. There are several books with tips for plants in the library. You will also help with your picks from the nearest nurseries. There are many rock gardens in the Yampa River Botanic Park that show design concepts and collections of plants. I’m creating a combination of alpine plants and perennials that I’m shifting from other areas of my garden. Both these plants are ideal for west facing conditions that are full of sun and dry.

Add as a mulch a layer of pea gravel.  This will help maintain the soil until the roots of the plants have been formed.  Water well and do not allow the plants to dry up until they have taken hold.

All right, my garden is done.  Okay, that’s not all.  I’m planting now.  I hope I’m planting most of it before the snow flies.  It looks pretty good, I guess.  Next I have to figure out how to stop growing the grass where