While I was out to dinner the other night, I couldn’t help but notice this not-so-new trend of urban loft decor. It seems that everywhere I turn, I see it: in stores, restaurants, condo buildings, and even in some homes. This industrial style design employs a mixture of modern furnishings, hard materials and open layouts. Natural materials, such as plants and water features, help to soften the look. How can you bring this type of style to the outdoors? Plant a rock garden.

Contrary to its namesake, a rock garden employs more than just rocks. In fact, many planters often choose to create a rock garden for the specific purpose of growing the types of plants that thrive in the regions they emulate.


If you are considering installing a rock garden in your yard, think first about where it should go, how big you would like it to be, and what kind of design you would like. Because rock garden plants typically do well with lots of light and soil with good drainage, pick a slope that faces south and gets plenty of sunshine.

With the location decided, you can start to map out the size. Keep in mind that you will probably have to clear the space of any existing plants or growth. Depending on the slope of your land and the scope of your project, you may need to have a professional help you with this.

For design, factor in aesthetics, function and budget. This is another area where a professional consultation can make a big difference. You will need to decide on preferences for boulders of varying sizes, stones for walk-ways and accents, plants and add-ons, like water features. When it comes to rocks, there are many options for natural and fabricated stone. Often, it takes seeing them in person and pricing them out for you to make the best decision.


When it comes to installation, you will likely need a team to unload and install the rocks for you. Make sure that the rocks you install are sturdy and set in place so that they not only look natural, but also won’t roll and potentially cause damage below. Place larger boulders first, and then fill in the other spaces.

For plants, you will want to consider both style and function. Choose plants that will thrive in the conditions you have. In general, rock garden plants can withstand hot sun and extreme winds. Low-lying plants and trees typically fall into this category.

Email questions to Joanne at thefixisin@gmail.com.