The right rocks are essential for a rock garden
Choosing the right rocks and stones for a rock garden sounds simplistic, but this essential task isn't as simple as it sounds.
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"That's not only for aesthetic purposes but because they're so labor intensive to get," Mr. Strickland says. "The ideal rock is the one you have close by."Skip to next paragraph
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Angular rocks are easier to work with than round river rocks, he says. "You're talking about creating formations, things like streams and waterfalls, shelves and crevices. Rocks with lichens on them are a bonus. They give you a patina kind of look."
Ask, though, before you go about gathering rocks. "You'll generally get permission from people who don't assign any value to the rocks they have on their property," Strickland says. "If nothing else, some rocks are available for purchase and can be delivered."
Here are some Bureau of Land Management policies governing rock collecting on federal lands. Some areas, particularly campgrounds, cultural and historic sites, and natural areas are off-limits.
And you may need a permit or have to pay a fee, if you:
— Gather more than a pickup-truck load or make more than one trip.
— Remove more than 250 pounds of rocks.
— Make the material available for commercial use.
— Use power equipment or explosives to remove rocks from the ground.
Most rock gardens are designed for temperate areas where they mimic mountain conditions with sunny, wind-blown, and well-drained sites. But that doesn't mean you can't create a water-wise desert rock garden, adding succulents, conifers and cactus.
You also could build a rock garden if you're space deprived — living in an apartment, for instance. Alpine plants are small, colorful, and hardy, making them great for use in containers.
"Give them the drainage they need; the protection they need," Strickland says. "Create the right microclimates and you'll reduce maintenance chores. You'll only have to go out there and trim things or replant once in a while."
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