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What is a rock garden?

The rock garden is one of the special design elements in the garden. Unlike conventional flower beds, the ground here consists of rocky, barren soil with a cover of pebbles. It is modeled on the characteristic landscape in (high) mountains and depicts the alpine flora. Since most rock garden plants come from the mountainous regions with their nutrient-poor soils and changeable weather, the plants are very robust and not very demanding in their care. It must therefore be fertilized or cut very little and for weeds there is almost no getting through. Therefore, a rock garden - once created - particularly easy to clean.

A rock garden for every garden

A rock garden does not need much space and can find its niche in every garden. Unlike perennial beds, a rock garden also looks very attractive in miniature format. Whether only a bucket is filled with house sausages, a solitary bed in the middle of a green area attracts the eye or a whole slope is created as a rock garden, the creativity knows no bounds. Both strictly geometric and curved bed forms are possible - the effect is always unique. The large selection of plants allows a colorful and easy-care design around the year. When planting a rock garden, the light and weather conditions at the site should be planned, because from sun-hungry blooming wonders to shadow-loving leaf ornamental plants much is needed, but not everything can be combined.

Rock garden as a front yard

A front garden designed as a rock garden

The planning

For the installation of a rock garden, there is a hill or a flat embankment. A slight natural gradient automatically diverts excess water. An orientation to the south or southwest is ideal, but with the appropriate plants, a plant in shady areas is possible. Large stones, grasses and dwarf trees create wandering shadows in the rock garden bed, the stones store the sun's heat and act as underfloor heating. When planning, make sure which stones you want to use for decoration and cover, because not all plants feel comfortable on all surfaces. Use very calcareous rocks, lime-sensitive plants do not grow well, siliceous stones especially appreciate plants that prefer acidic soil. The stones used, for example dolomite, gneiss, sandstone, slate, limestone or granite, should also be weather-resistant. For special design ideas, there are also colored ornamental pebbles, for example in red, yellow or orange, with which great color effects can be achieved. However, decide in advance for a color scheme and do not mix too many different types of rock, as the bed is otherwise unnatural and restless.

Rock garden with watercourse

Watercourses bring the rock garden to life

Create a rock garden properly

First limit the area for the rock garden bed and raise the floor about 30 centimeters deep. Weed roots should be carefully removed to allow the slow-growing rock garden plants to roam properly. The vast majority of rock garden plants like barren, well-drained soil. Therefore, it is important to ensure a good drainage to prevent waterlogging. Then fill the surface with leaner, stony soil or building rubble, forming hills and valleys. This creates an organic-looking mountain landscape. Then a weed fleece is laid out. Finally, sprinkle the bed with barren, stony potting soil. Where a very nutrient-rich loam or clay soil forms the basis, plenty of sand should be incorporated into the upper soil layer. Now you can place large and small boulders at irregular intervals.

Rock garden with boulders

Foundries in different sizes provide tension in the rock garden and are taken in no time by the plants

Only when the stones have found their location, use the plants. Keep plenty of distance, because especially upholstery will spread over time and in the rock garden, the plants as well as the floor surface would like to come into their own. Finally, pour a layer of gravel or pebbles on top. So rain and melt water runs off easily and the weed growth is suppressed. If you put your rock garden on a slope, steps must be formed to prevent the surface from slipping off. To do this, use large blocks of stone that you need to anchor well, or veneer raised steps with natural stones.

Maintain rock garden

The soil, which is highly permeable to water, can cause the soil to dry very quickly, especially in sunny locations. Although sun-loving rock garden plants are usually equipped with good water storage properties, they still need to be watered during periods of extreme heat or long dry periods.In winter, naturally, a protective layer of snow covers the plants in the mountainous regions. So the generally hardy rock garden plants get through the cold season. However, if there is no snow and threatened bald frosts, you should cover the plants with a fleece or brushwood. If weeds show up, they must be removed quickly, because the rock garden plants are extremely difficult to compete with.

Suitable plants for the rock garden

The classics among the rock garden plants are upholstered perennials. They spread quickly and cover walls, beds and borders with their compact tufts and many thousands of small flowers. Blue cushion (Aubrieta), red cabbage and upholstery phlox, the white-flowered loop flower (Iberis sempervirens) and yellow roller spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) are brilliant spring blooms that sprout out of all joints in April and May. Also small onion flowers such as the blue grape hyacinth (Muscari), low wild daffodils (for example Narcissus cyclamineus, N. tazetta) and wild or botanical tulips (for example Tulipa Kaufmanniana hybrids) are well suited for a rock garden planting.

Blue cushion Aubrieta rockery

Roller spurge in the rockery

The blue cushion (Aubrieta) provides early in the year for color in the rock garden (left). The Rolling Spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) in April / May inspires with pretty yellow flowers (right)

Most rock garden plants are early bloomers. In April and May there is therefore a true color explosion in the rock garden. So that the bed does not stand bald in the summer, you should also plan in addition some summer bloomers. Here are various ornamental species such as the pink star-shaped allium (Allium christophii) or the yellow gold leek (Allium moly) on. Eye-catching splashes of color in ocher and red present spiny-sprigs (Acaena) and sunflowers (Helianthemum). Due to their adaptation to very dry or hot locations, many rock garden plants have fine hairs that make the leaves appear in all colors - from silvery to violet. With the purple-blue Pasquefoils (Pulsatilla vulgaris), sunflower-yellow Adonisröschen (Adonis vernalis), pink-flowered cat paw (Antennaria dioica 'Rubra') and yellow-skinned lady's mantle (Alchemilla alpina) the rock garden bed does not lose its attractiveness even after flowering.

Houseleek Sempervivum rock garden

Pasque Flower Pulsatilla rockery

Classics in the rock garden: Hauswurz (left) and Pasque (right)

In sunny locations you should definitely find fragrant herbs like thyme. All-year-round beautiful grasses such as sedge (Carex), blue winglet (Festuca glauca) and feathered grass (Pennisetum) allow a natural height graduation. Evergreen ones such as the dwarf pine (Pinus pumila) or the deciduous green cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis) with their coral-red berries, which remain on the plant throughout the winter, round off the plant.

Video Board: Love Your Garden - Rockery.

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