Growing Plants In A Rocky Yard

25 March 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Your dreams of a beautiful, green landscape might shatter the second your shovel hits a rock in your yard. But don't despair! There are plenty of ways to have a beautifully landscaped yard even with rocky soil. The trick is to work with the soil you have rather than struggle against it.

Grass Alternatives

Rocky soil is a death sentence for grass. Grass can't find the nutrients it needs in bad soil, and even if it did, mowing a lawn full of rocks is a recipe for disaster. To protect your lawnmower and everything within rock flinging distance, you'd have to adjust your lawnmower blade so that it doesn't give a close clip. Some people with rocky yards give up on grass altogether and choose to grow moss instead. Moss grows easily on rocky surfaces, needs much less water than grass, and doesn't need to be mowed. Mix a few species of moss so that your yard shifts beautifully into different shades of green as the seasons pass. Choose moss that lays low and spreads -- sheet moss and fern moss are good choices. 

Another alternative to grass is to go with a rock garden. Spread pea gravel on your property, and use flat stones to create a walking path. The walking path will add visual interest and will prevent people from slipping on the gravel. 

Add Soil

If your rocky soil won't support the plants you're dreaming of, add a few inches of good soil where you want to put your beds. Just be sure to choose plants with shallow root systems. Plants that want to dig deep will encounter those rocks a few inches down and won't be able to thrive. 

Build Up

Sometimes, the best thing to do is give up on the soil you have and bring in the soil you want. Create elevated beds and fill them with the best soil possible. Keep in mind that gardening soil is typically too heavy for plants growing in a raised bed. Choose lighter soil instead that is one part compost or other organic material, one part sand, and one part soil. If you can't find the ideal mix in a store, you can fairly easily create your own. 

Work with It

Some plants grow best in dry, sandy and rocky soil. When planning your yard, speak with gardening experts about which plants will do well under those conditions. For example, lavender thrives in rocky soil, and it smells good, looks beautiful, and has many culinary uses. 

Rocky soil shouldn't kill your gardening dreams. Simply work within the parameters it gives you so you'll have a beautiful yard without a great deal of effort. 

Consider contacting professional landscapers, such as JK Landscape Construction, to help you with this project.