Rock garden with herbaceous perennials

Small mountain landscapes are recreated in the rock garden. Beside the selection of the stones, suitable perennials play an important role.

© Franz Bogner –

A rock garden, that can be a gravel garden, a planted dry wall or a boulder garden. They are planted with cushion shrubs, sedum species, ornamental grasses, flowering shrubs or bulbous plants. Mountain landscapes can be recreated or habitats can be represented that have been recaptured by the plant world.

The ideal location for a rock garden is a gentle slope to the south. On the one hand the rock garden shrubs have ideal growing conditions, on the other hand the stones store heat during the day which they give off at night. This creates a microclimate in the rock garden which benefits the shrubs and small animals. Rock gardens can also be created in shady areas. Preferably these are planted with ferns, funkien, elven flowers and Bergenia.

Which stones for the rock garden?

In the most frequent cases large stones, stone or gravel gravel are the basis of rock gardens. However, stone is not simply stone. There are a number of things to consider when selecting them:

  • Use large and expressive stones – not too many.
  • Choose light-coloured stones that create an eye-catching contrast to the green and colours of the flowering shrubs.
  • The shape of the stones can be different: round or square.
  • The stones are distributed without any recognizable pattern. This makes the rock garden look natural.
  • Let the stones sink a little into the ground – they will find enough support on the surface of your rock garden.

“Tip: A small stream gives your rock garden a special flair.

Planting perennials in the rock garden – preparing the soil well

Before you create a rock garden, you should check the quality of the soil. It should be well permeable to prevent waterlogging. Long-lasting wetness causes root rot in the stone bed perennials.

  1. The selected area for the rock garden must be thoroughly cleared of weeds and their roots. After all, no weeds should grow between the slow-growing rock garden shrubs.
  2. If you are already working on the ground, you can also excavate troughs or a future stream – depending on your wishes. This gives your rockery a special structure.
  3. Now cover the earth with a layer of chippings or round gravel about 20 centimetres thick. This serves as a drainage for optimal water drainage from precipitation.
  4. Now lay the fleece over the drainage layer. This prevents soil from seeping into the drainage and sanding it.
  5. Now the stones can be laid out and the gaps can be filled with a soil substrate. This consists to a third of humus. Otherwise, the soil in the gaps should be low in nitrogen and loose.

Design the rock garden with perennials

A rock garden looks attractive when stones and plants are in a harmonious relationship to each other. Stones and plants should come to the fore. It is therefore advisable to select carpet- and cushion-forming shrubs for the rock garden. With bulb plants you can give your rock garden an additional structure.

Suitable perennials for the rock garden

Carpet-forming shrubs Small perennials Grasses for the rock garden Perennial onions for structuring
  • Andean cushion,
  • Carpet Knotweed,
  • Rockcress,
  • White-colored goose cress,
  • Red carpet knotgrass,
  • Carpet-Phlox
  • Kitchen clamp,
  • Dwarf stork-billed,
  • Apparent forest master,
  • Grasnelke,
  • Dwarf veil herb,
  • Little lady’s mantle,
  • Oriental poppy seed
  • Magellanic blue grass,
  • Fox red sedge,
  • White groves,
  • Heart-shaking grass,
  • Schillergras,
  • Lamp cleaner grass
  • Allium,
  • Botanical tulips,
  • Tap candle,
  • Wolf Sword,
  • Prairie candle,
  • Stuffed prairie lily.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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