Friday, April 22, 2011

Gardening Tip - How to Plant a Rock

       I know what you are thinking.  “What is that weird designer from San Diego talking about?  Who wants to plant a rock?”  Let me explain.  Occasionally I have a client who wants a rocky, minimal plant landscape.  An important aspect of making the new rocks looks natural is “planting them”.
      The next time you are walking in a canyon, look at the rocks.  Over the last few thousand years, those rocks have been slowly buried with debris.  In order to make the rocks in your new landscape look natural, you need to bury them.  Here are the steps.
1)     Buy a rock.  KRC and Southwest Boulder & Stone are 2 very good places to buy rocks in San Diego County.  Here are their webpages;

A medium size boulder, like the one in these photos, can weigh a couple of hundred pounds.  Unless you want to destroy your vehicle, let the vendor deliver it.  They have special trucks with a mini crane that can place the boulder directly into your landscape.
2)     Dig a hole.  In order to make the boulder look like it has been there for thousands of years, you need to bury at least 20% of the rock, so start digging.  Dig the hole before the rock is delivered.  If you just drop the rock on the ground and don’t bury it, you are left with something that looks a rock monster just pooped on your yard.
3)     Inspect the rock before placing.  A really nice rock with have variation in the color, rough edges and shape.  Before the crane drops the rock in the hole, inspect the rock to pick the most interesting side.  The crane operator can spin the rock so that you can see all sides.  Make sure the best side of the rock is the side that is above ground and the most visible to you.
4)     Put the rock in the hole.  Have the crane operator drop the rock in the hole.
5)     Backfill the hole.  Fill in extra soil and mulch around the rock so that it looks buried.  I like to place plants close to the rock so that the plants will eventually partially cover the rock and give the landscape a nice aged look.  The rocks will also help the plants by serving as mulch for the plant’s roots.
6)     Water the rock.  No, I am not kidding.  Rocks in a quarry get covered with lots of dust.  After all the mulch and plants are in place, water the rock to rinse it off.

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