Do Rocks Actually Help a Garden?

Sometimes, it’s nice to switch up the look of a garden, and rocks are excellent for this. You can find many types and colors, and they’re easy to maintain. But do rocks actually help a garden, or can they be damaging?

Rocks help a garden by giving it a stylish and low-maintenance look. On top of that, they help prevent weed growth. However, they can also be damaging because they may block nutrients from getting to plants. They can also get mixed in with the soil, which can be problematic.

The rest of this article will discuss whether rocks help a garden in more detail. It’ll also explain the pros and cons of having rocks in a garden, so read on to learn more.

Do Rocks Help With Water Drainage?

Rocks help with water drainage, so they are a good addition to soil that gets waterlogged quickly. Since rocks drain water better than soil, many people like to use them in their gardens. They can also be placed in potted plants.

However, rocks in pots can often block the pots’ drainage holes, which causes the plant’s roots to get waterlogged.

The Benefits of Having Rocks in a Garden

There are plenty of benefits of having rocks in a garden. Unlike plants, they add beauty and character to a space while requiring minimal maintenance. When you incorporate rocks into your garden, you can fill up lots of space with rocks without worrying about watering or feeding them.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the main benefits of having rocks in a garden.

Aesthetically Pleasing

First and foremost, adding rocks to a garden will give it a beautiful look. It can get dull looking at the same soil and plants every day, especially if you’ve never had a rock garden before. Of course, plants are also aesthetically pleasing, but rocks give a whole new feel to the space. 

Having a mixture of plants and rocks will give an entirely new look to your garden, and you can design it however you want.

Plenty of Choices

It’s no secret that there are so many options when it comes to garden rocks. There are different types, colors, and sizes, so you can use them to have a fully customized garden. Some common garden rocks include:

  • River rocks. These rocks are super smooth and come in multiple colors. Because of their soft texture, they can give any garden a warm and calming feel.
  • Decomposed granite. This type of rock is much smaller than river rocks and is another popular one to consider. It comes in many colors — including brown, tan, gray, and blue.
  • Lava rocks. Lava rocks bring an exciting look to a garden because of their rough texture and vibrant red color. They’re perfect for many types of gardens.

These are just three types of garden rocks. There are many more if you look for them, and you can mix and match as many as you’d like. 

Minimal Maintenance

When it comes to plants, you have to plant, grow, and nurture seeds, water the plants, and perform other regular maintenance tasks. But with rocks, all you need to do is put them down. Once that’s done, you can go about your life without worrying about them wilting or dying. 

Of course, it’s good to have a mix of plants and rocks in your garden. But if you have rocks, you won’t need as many plants in the area, making your life a lot easier. So even though you’ll have fewer plants in your garden, it’ll still look beautiful because the rocks will work as low-maintenance substitutes. 

Rocks also work as a good mulch substitute and are longer-lasting. And since mulch decomposes, you need to replace it often. But of course, that’s not the case with rocks. 

Tolerant of All Weather Conditions

Rocks can withstand all kinds of temperatures, whether you live in a hot desert or somewhere freezing. You can’t say the same for plants because most of them need specific temperatures and amounts of sunlight to thrive. 

On top of that, rocks won’t blow around in windy conditions. While some soils and mulch can be dusty and blow away with the slightest gust of wind, rocks are heavy and sturdy, so they stay in place no matter how stormy it is. 

Rocks Help Prevent Weeds

Rocks act as a substitute for regular mulch, which means they help prevent weeds. However, it’s still important to remove any visible weeds before placing your rocks onto the soil because some may be able to grow through the rocks’ cracks.

Another thing you could do is place landscaping fabric over the soil and place the rocks on top. This prevents weeds from growing, and it also helps separate the rocks from the soil. However, there are downsides to using landscaping fabric. 

The main downside is that it can block essential nutrients from the soil and surrounding plants. To learn more about landscaping paper and whether or not you should use it in your rock garden, you can check out this article: Do You Need Landscaping Fabric Under Rocks?

Rocks Can Prevent Soil Erosion

Another thing you may not have considered is soil erosion — the loss of topsoil due to natural causes like windy weather and water. Many kinds of rocks help to prevent this from occurring, including gravel. Erosion can lead to a severe loss of fertile soil and cause issues with water supply. 

By placing rocks in your garden, you can reduce the risk of soil erosion.

You Can Make Walkways With Rocks

You don’t have to limit the rocks to the areas with plants. Many people like to create walkways with rocks (usually crushed), which is more aesthetically pleasing than having basic concrete as a walkway. Sandstone is an example of a rock that many like to use for walkways, and it comes in a variety of colors. 

That said, there are many different rocks you can use, and they’ll all make for a beautiful, classy walkway.

Rock Garden Cons

Although there are plenty of pros to rock gardens, there are some cons you should be aware of as well. 

Rocks Can Get Mixed Into the Soil

When you place rocks over the soil, some may fall into the soil, making them difficult to retrieve. You want to avoid any rocks mixing in with the earth because it can cause problems to the roots of the plants and may dry out the soil too much. It’ll also make it more difficult to remove the rocks if you ever want to redo your garden in the future.

Many people use landscaping fabric (which I mentioned earlier) to avoid this. Although landscaping fabric is excellent for separating rocks from the soil, it can also cause problems. Since the material covers the ground entirely, it can be challenging for the soil to get the nutrients it needs. 

Also, weeds might sometimes poke through landscaping fabric, making it more difficult to remove the fabric when you need to replace it. 

Rocks Can Block Nutrients From Plants and the Soil

When rocks lie above the soil, they might block essential nutrients from getting to the soil and plants. On top of that, they retain heat when the sun is shining, causing the soil to overheat. If this occurs, it’s likely that plants will be dehydrated and may begin to wilt (or even die).

One solution would be to plant heat-tolerant plants in your rock garden to combat this issue. Examples include:

  • Pentas. These flowers grow well during the hot summer months and are popular around Florida due to their tolerance to heat.
  • Angelonia. This plant grows well in heat, so it’s an excellent choice for a rock garden during the warm summer months.
  • Marigolds. Marigolds thrive during the hot summer months and bloom for a long time.

But if you have other plants, you should try to water them more frequently during the summer, especially if you have a rock garden.

Rocks Are Expensive

Buying rocks for a rock garden is expensive. Although it can cost as little as $200, many people pay closer to $1000 to complete their rock gardens. You might even need to shell out more than this depending on the size of your garden.

On the other hand, an alternative like organic mulch is much more affordable. You can even create your own mulch using things like: 

  • Wood chippings
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings

Mulch has many benefits. It prevents weeds, retains water in the soil, and is super affordable (or even free if you make your own), so it’s certainly a good alternative to rocks. 

Therefore, even though rocks have many benefits in a garden, they’re often too expensive for most. 


Rocks help a garden in many ways. Here are some of them:

  • They create an aesthetically pleasing garden.
  • They require little maintenance.
  • You can choose many different styles, sizes, and colors.
  • They help prevent weeds.

However, there are also downsides. Some of them are:

  • They can cause the soil to overheat during the summer.
  • They can sometimes block nutrients from the soil.
  • They can mix in with the soil.

Before you decide to incorporate rocks into your garden, consider all the pros and cons. That way, you can make an informed decision.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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