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What Are Different Types of Landscape Rock?

By Ken Black
Updated May 21, 2024
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Landscape rock is one of the most used forms of landscape design in the world. Though many may hardly notice, it does have the ability to make a dramatic statement and be a help in any sort of garden. Though it has a much more prominent role in a desert garden, its significance in other types of gardens should not be underestimated.

The types of landscape rock are difficult to categorize simply because a landscaper does not think about them the same way as a geologist. Where a geologist looks at origins, a landscaper is more concerned with color and size. While knowing origins will help determine characteristics such as size and color, landscape rock is readily available at most retail home improvement stores. Therefore, such information is not critical to a landscaper. The exception to this may be when the landscaper is trying to create a certain theme. Then, it may play a role, if authenticity counts.

The most common types of landscape rock include: Pennsylvania blue stone, limestone, flagstone, pink quartz, purple quartz, red rock, buckshot, river rock and boulders. Each may be popular for different reasons, but many share some common features. They all are readily available and most are relatively easy to work with.

what are different types of landscape rock

For example, flagstone is a very common type of landscape rock for a number of reasons. While it can be colorful, it is known for being very flat and broad on top. Thus, it is a popular rock for walks and outdoor patio floors. The stone, after scoring, is also very easy to cut and break along straight lines. Due to its ease of use, it often is the first choice for not only flooring applications, but walls as well.

Blue stone is a type of landscape rock used when one wants to create a uniform color application. While this may not be a top concern among private gardeners, it may have more uses in some commercial applications. Further, it may also be used as a spot application for things such as potted plants. It adds a visual element which could complement some plants very well.

Buckshot and river rock can be quite versatile types of landscape rock. Known for their smaller sizes, these rocks can make a great ground covering. However, they also have some very appealing colors, which make them very interesting visually. However, the use of buckshot rock should be carefully scrutinized. In some cases, it is not suitable for use simply because the pebbles are so small they can get caught in shoes and possibly damage flooring.

While many types of landscape rock are relatively inexpensive, some are more expensive than others. Less colorful rocks, and smaller rocks, are generally going to be less expensive than their more colorful and larger counterparts. Most landscaping rock is affordable, though depending on quantities needed, some projects could become quite pricey.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1002021 — On Aug 19, 2019

My husband and i just realized that the large (4'-5' lxW) dark rocks that surround the base of our split level home and it's added-on garage are starting to crumble from the top down. They looked like metamorphic rocks until this year when they're losing layer after layer from the tops down and exposed is now a tan and sandy composition which is consistent through the whole rock top to bottom. Many of these rocks lie under the base of our garage, our back patio, they appear to be essential to the foundation.

Mostly under the outer edge of the raised garage, I worry that these rocks will continue to slough and allow the whole garage/deck above it to eventually give way when these rocks erode enough to lose their structural integrity. I would have assumed only metamorphic or igneous rocks would have been placed in lieu of a retaining wall as without them, this house would certainly catastrophically fail as if falling into a river from a flood. Would the previous owners twenty years ago have possibly known that the rocks they purchased were limited to about 20 years before erosion would reveal their glorified-sandbag inner core? Or would they have been duped by aggregate salesmen who figured two decades from then it would at least be someone else's mess to explain? Is this common or am I being paranoid? I'm losing a lot of rock in a short amount of time and the house is starting to make loud snapping sounds right in the middle that we've never heard before. we're on a hill, the rocks are at the most downhill side of the house, they appear to be absolutely necessary and if they crumble, this house is going to be a complete do-over. Sorry so long, I'm new at this type of issue.

By chicada — On Mar 01, 2011

In my opinion, the best use of landscape rock is to create breaks in the gardens through the use of boulders. My parent’s lawn is sculpted, and there are a few areas where large boulders of granite landscape rock are grouped together. It really makes their rolling lawn look nice, and they are nice to sit on a sunny day.

By Babalaas — On Feb 26, 2011

@ Amphibious54- I have built plenty of landscape rock walls and walkways, and it is not difficult to figure out. I will let you know that it is hard work though. With the proper planning, equipment, and will power, you should be able to build a nice walkway in a few days.

The last walkway I built needed to be ready for a wedding. It was a little more difficult than the normal walkway because it was on a slight slope. We needed a few tons of rock, shale gravel, and sod. for equipment we used shovels, wheel barrels, chisels, hammers, a few rakes, a bobcat to move large amounts of materials, a sod cutter, and surveying tools/levels. We cut the design of the walkway into the existing lawn with the sod cutter, and began to level the ground with the bobcat. For narrow walks, you will need to do this by hand. We put a thin layer of the gravel down and raked it out. Finally, we lay the stone, using the hammers and chisels to shape the individual pieces to fit. Once we leveled the stones, we filled the cracks with soil and use steak knives to cut sod to fill the voids.

By Amphibious54 — On Feb 25, 2011

How hard is it to build a flagstone patio or walkway? I want a decorative landscape rock walkway, but I would like to do the project myself.

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