Easy rockery ideas for spaces of all sizes

Here we go through how to make a rock garden using plants rocks and decorative features, with suggestions on how to adapt it depending on the space you have.


bed of colourful flowers being gardened

Key steps

1.     Decide on the size, scale and theme

2.     Head to your local garden centre to pick up rocks, plants and other materials

3.     Arrange them in your preferred design

4.     Maintain long term with regular watering and cleaning

A rock garden, or rockery, is a simple but very effective approach to landscaping a garden using rocks of varied sizes interspersed with plants. It’s pretty fashionable these days and there are lots of different ways of making a rock garden that can be tailored to your space and tastes. Here are some of our favourite rockery ideas to get you started.

Not sure how to make a rockery that suits your garden perfectly? Start by looking online at different designs and rockery plants ideas, and make a virtual mood board for inspiration.

Large rock garden ideas

Got a large space in your garden and want to create a rockery? Here are a few fun ideas:

  • Layer out rocks in interesting patterns for example to create an interesting pathway or to mark out a particular flower bed.
  • The bigger the rockery area the larger the rocks you can use, so play around with different sizes
  • Choose plants that will grow to fill the space like lavender, ivy and holly.
  • Consider installing a water-feature. When you’ve got the space this can be a very attractive feature in your garden.

Small rock garden ideas

Making a rock garden in a small space may be harder, but it’s by no means impossible. And there are advantages of small rockeries too – they are easier to build in the first place and tend to required much less maintenance. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • When you don’t have much space, choose smaller rocks that don’t impose
  • This means you can go for a big variety in colours and textures
  • Choose low-maintenance, slow growing plants that aren’t going to take over such as daphne plants, buxus, acubu and camellia.
  • Be selective on the decorative features you choose for a small rock garden – too much and it’s easy to look cluttered.

Safety Warning

Rocks may look beautiful, but they’ll seem less so if you drop them on your foot. Be careful when lifting and wear steel-capped shoes to protect yourself just in case. 

Adding a theme your garden: rockery plant ideas

  • Wild prairie. This is a great theme for your rockery. You can let your imagination run wild and have lots of free-growing plants like lavender, dandelions and daisies. These kinds of plants are also good for attracting lots of different types of wildlife to your garden. Include rocks of lots of different sizes, and add in a themed bird feeder to make sure you have a bird friendly garden too!
  • Japanese minimalist garden. This is for those who prefer a sleeker look. To theme your rockery in a Japanese minimalist style, choose rocks with clean, straight lines or smooth and rounded rocks. Keep to a strict colour theme and opt for paired-back, subtle plants like succulents.
  • Alpine rockery garden. This model takes mountains as its inspiration, so play with different heights to create interesting effects. Start by placing a mould of soil in the area then arrange the rocks at different levels. Good plants for this type of rockery are those that can grow on non-horizontal planes, such as Chinese money plants or climbing vegetables like pole beans.

Now you know how to make a rock garden, there’s no stopping you! Whether your space is big or small, whether you want something minimalist or maximalist, there’ll be a way to create it exactly as you like. Follow these tips and tricks and you’ll have the garden you want in no time.

Originally published