A garden for any season
If you've been told that you have a "brown thumb," don't worry; you can still create a beautiful outdoor sanctuary. Rock gardens consist of an array of carefully arranged stones and other natural materials. Unlike traditional plant gardens, landscaping rock gardens are easy to maintain and simple to create using inexpensive supplies.
Creating Japanese Rock Gardens
Japanese or Zen rock gardens are, perhaps, the best-known types of natural rock gardens. In some parts of Asia, these gardens or "dry landscapes" are considered a true art form and have graced the land around Zen Buddhist temples for over 1,000 years.
The basic layout of a Japanese rock garden consists of one or more large, dark-colored stones surrounded by a field of small, lighter-colored pebbles, which are often raked into smooth, neat rows. The arrangement is intended to conjure up images of craggy islands rising out of the ocean waves and to provide an aesthetically pleasing respite from the hubbub of modern life.
To create Japanese rock gardens, select small and large stones of contrasting colors. Try to find multi-toned, irregularly shaped "island" stones that resemble actual mountains and natural landscape elements. Mossy stones are ideal, because the moss will appear to be "grass" growing on the "island." For your "ocean" pebbles, look for stones specially made for Zen rock gardens or select smooth, sparkling white pebbles at your local landscape supply store.
Creating Rock Water Gardens
The rock water garden, an unusual subtype of rock garden, is the polar opposite of the Japanese dry landscape. Many people build elaborate ponds in their backyards, but you can also create rock water gardens in small natural or hand-dug ponds or in large, shallow artificial containers. Fountains, waterfalls and various lighting effects are easy to add using simple kits. Fish and water plants are optional, but add vibrancy to any natural rock garden.
For the minimalist, ...