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15 December 2022

How to Build a Rockery

16th July 2020 / Tammy

Late winter through to early spring is the best time to build a rockery. This is because the ground is usually wet. However, you can do this at any time of year, but is better after a few days of rain. The wet ground makes it easier to move the soil and place the rocks.

Before you build a rockery, it’s important to think about its location along with the plants you want to include. If you are using alpine plants, they often require a lot of light. Therefore, make sure that you build your rockery away from trees, as these will cast shadows throughout the day.

If your space is mostly shaded then do not worry, there are plants that are well suited to those conditions. However, you are not just restricted to alpine planting for your rockery. There are many beautiful varieties that can suit all sorts of growing conditions and will add interest to your feature year-round.

Which Stone Should I Use?

Some stunning choices for rockery stone include the extremely popular Slate, which has many distinct colour tones to choose from. These include Plum, Blue, Charcoal, Green, Cornish and Rustic which means you should find a slate rockery stone to blend seamlessly with your colour scheme.

A stone that is perfect for use if you want a natural look is the Longstone or Yorkstone Rockery. Red Sandstone will make a great impact and Cotswold Rockery Stone will brighten up your area. We even supply Nordic Rockery that sparkles in the light, offering something a bit special to any rockery.

Thatched Cottage with a Longstone Rockery Pond and Wooden Bridge


You can add interest to your design by using smaller stones that complement the colour tones of your rockery. For natural looking rockeries you have options like Scottish Pebbles & Cobbles, and Oyster Pebbles. For a contemporary rockery Duck Egg Pebbles or Dove Grey will blend seamlessly. You can also find Slate Chippings to match any colour of slate rockery stone.

If your rockery is going to feed into a pond with fish in it, be sure to choose fish friendly materials such as granite, slate, or gritstone.

So How Do I Build My Rockery?

Now that you have thought about what you want to plant, where you are going to build it and what rockery stone you are going to use, you are going to put the whole thing together!

Start by clearing the area that will become your rockery of all weeds and stones. Lay Weed Membrane down with a layer of gravel on the top. Together these will help prevent weeds growing and give good drainage to your rockery.

Begin by placing the largest rocks first and build up gradually using smaller stones towards the top to create a peak. Use decent quality topsoil to place into the natural spaces created by the rocks. If you want to keep your rockery weed free for as long as possible, you must use a quality, pre-prepared, bagged topsoil. Remember if you use your own, it may contain small weed seeds that you will find extremely difficult to remove. Make sure that you place the rockery stone at different angles to add interest and to offer different facing directions for your plants.

Which Plants Should I Use?

Finally, it’s time to plant! The easiest thing to do at first is to lay out the plants (still in their containers) where you think you would like them ultimately to be. That way you can move them round easily and with the least mess until you’ve got it right. Once you’ve worked out the placement, gently tease out the plants roots and place them in the topsoil. Make sure to cover the roots with some more topsoil and then layer over a handful of horticultural grit or other small chippings to help keep weeds at bay.

Cotswold Rockery, laid with Plants and Cacti to add colour to this beautiful garden feature


Alpine plants are generally recommended for rockeries as they are native to mountainous regions. This means that they are normally small as the mountains provide a cold and dry atmosphere which prevents the plants from growing tall.


However, there are other small plants that you can also use within your rockery and having a mix of alpine and non-alpine will make an attractive display. Typical plants recommended for use within rockeries include Thyme, Houseleeks, Trailing Bellflower, Pasque Flower, Aubretia and Gentian. Although there are many more that can also be used.

Once you have chosen and placed your plants then your rockery should be complete and ready to enjoy.


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