How to maintain rock landscaping
Rock landscaping can be a wonderful addition to your yard. Use it for anything from mulch to pathways. The texture, material, and colors can also be a wonderfully successful offset for any of your water features.
Once you have your rock landscaping set, you might think it’s done. You worry about pruning, watering, and caring for your plants, but did you know that you also need to maintain rock landscaping? If you didn’t, or you’re just not sure, then keep reading for a few pointers on how to maintain rock landscaping.
Gravel gardens and rock landscaping face particular issues. These can happen even in the most low-maintenance of areas.
Stray leaves are going to happen, unless you have a garden that’s far away from neighboring trees and anything that sheds its leaves. Weeds are another unwelcome element to your landscaping, especially when they conflict so hard visually with rocks; these can just wreck the aesthetic.
Uneven gravel is also another eyesore. In time, it might expose the underneath ground or even weed barrier fabric you put down. That can be irritating because it means a solution to one problem is now visually exposed thanks to another. Also, if you walk occasionally through your garden, which you probably want to, your feet might kick your rocks out of place if you used them for a pathway. Even rocks used for mulch or water features might get knocked out of the way by exuberant children and excited animals.
Fortunately, for all the issues that can happen even with rock landscaping, there are several things you can also do about it. For starters, if you have a rake and/or a leaf blower, then you can try to get those pesky leaves out of your landscaping rocks.
If you use your rake, go easy with it. Going at it too hard can mean possibly ripping up the leaves into many more tinier pieces, giving you a worse mess to handle. You might also accidentally scratch up hard surfaces of your landscape features or even tear up some of your most prized plants. The whole point is making your garden a beautiful place again, rather than vice-versa.
Should you take the leaf blower to battle, also handle it with delicate care. Use it on a really low setting so you don’t kick up too much gravel while you’re working. Even on a low setting, you still need to make sure that your eyes are protected with good goggles. If there are times of the year where you live where leaves are especially heavy, then don’t worry about perfection. Just manage things the best you can until the leaves are done dropping.
Something important to do is finding the right hose. A regular garden hose coiled up on the side of your home can really stand out against the backdrop of a beautiful garden. Find a tidy and inconspicuous spot for it, but also use it regularly. Watering your plants right helps them thrive, and the more they shine, the less anyone is going to notice the landscaping rock around them. You can also use simple hosing to wash off your rocks.
Make sure you remove any weeds you see several times a year. There are some weeds that really sprout up after a good rain, but they might also dry out and even die once the sun is back. That means that patience can be a virtue here. If you do have to deal with weeds constantly, you might need a preventative layer of something underneath the rocks. You might even need more rocks themselves.
When you can without hurting your plants, even out the gravel to smooth out the look. You can use your rake for this one in most cases. You might even need to buy an extra bag or so to fill in holes and the bald spots, but remember that as rock is a natural material, variations in color do happen. Even with the same rock, you might have slightly different textures and shades.
If simply hosing off the rocks or letting rain clean them isn’t enough, you can build a sifter with a wooden frame and a screening material. Then, you can place batches of stone in it and wash them off more thoroughly. This does take time though, since you can only fit a fraction of them in there at a time.
There are some issues that are too complicated to just solve in one hour of dedicated work in your yard. While rocks in a garden can do wonders for retaining moisture in the ground, they might also result in drainage issues where your plants get too much water. This can drown them and lead to root rot. Keep an eye on the health of any plants who have a rock mulch around them.
If you really want to clean your rocks, then pile them up in a wheelbarrow. You can fill it with water and either bleach or vinegar. Letting them soak in this will clean most anything off of them, but be very careful where you dump your runoff. Keep your rocks in the bucket or wheelbarrow when you pour out the wash, because bleach and vinegar are toxic to most plants. That also means you need to power wash the rocks with water so they don’t have any residue left on them. Bleach is also bad for insects and pets.
If you notice mold, fungus, or questionable discolorations on any of your landscaping rocks, scrub them by hand or just replace them and dispose of them.
It might be hard to consider landscaping rock as needing maintenance. Many of those stones have likely been around for millions of years and will still be there long after you. However, threats abound, be they simply visual, inconveniences, or actual hazards to your plants. Now that you have read all of this, you can keep your rock landscaping clean and well-maintained so you can spend more time enjoying than worrying about it.