Posted on 11th March 2021
A garden rockery doesn’t have to be large to be a great feature in your garden. The key is to think about the right location, your vision point from the house or patio sitting area, and whether you need to create some elevation.
A rockery can provide a specialist environment that is perfect for alpine plants, as alpines grow best on mountainous slopes where there’s plenty of light and good drainage. By creating a rockery, you can replicate these conditions in your garden.
As time goes by, rockeries continue to grow and change as your plants mature and grow, and will look more natural, so it is important to think about the look you want and ensure that you allow for the growth of key planting features.
Alpine plants generally require maximum light exposure, so it is better you find an area away from trees and shrubs which may cast shadows throughout the day.
The choice of stone is also important, and slate is an excellent choice in green, plum or blue colours as its geological composition means it will not be harmful to any plants, and the unique shapes and texture of the slate can themselves provide part of the rockery features.
When using the slate, be sure to place each carefully, and dependent upon the weight and size of the piece, it may be a good idea to put some hardcore under the piece to ensure it is stable and won’t move, mainly if the location tends to get wet and boggy. Extensive “sculptural” features may benefit from a spot of mortar in the base to ensure they are stable and won’t slip. You may also wish to consider laying a stabilising layer of rubble, improving drainage and supporting the rocks.
A rockery can be built at any time of the year, but it is easier to shape the look you want when the ground is a little soft for digging and placing the rocks and large plant features. Before you build a rockery, it’s important to ensure all weeds are removed.
Once the ground is clear, you can top with good topsoil and potentially cover the area with landscape fabric to prevent future weeds from growing through and keeping the soil in place. Using a range of slate chippings, including 20mm or 40mm sizes to cover the area combined with carefully positioned paddlestones, will also enhance the rockery feature and help long term maintenance.