A rockery is often put in to save effort; quite the opposite is the usual result. As a garden feature, rockeries are frequently badly sited and badly made. Very often, any problem slope or awkward corner seems to invite a rockery as the solution – usually the worst possible choice. Far from being easy, it is very difficult to succeed with a rockery.
A rockery must be sited, ideally, on a gentle slope in full sunshine. Very few rock plants like shade. Try to position a rock garden so that it fits into the slope and rises naturally out of it. It should not back onto a boundary wall, or a fence. There is quite a bit of work in building a rockery, especially if it is done properly.
Small rockery plants are not adapted for competition with weeds. Weeding is usually a major job, made more difficult by the niches between rocks that make weeds hard to dislodge. Weedkillers cannot be used.
Before planting a rockery, make sure that the soil is completely weed-free. It is worth waiting a few months and controlling weeds properly. When the plants are in place, or beforehand if preferred, cover the soil with at least 5 centimetres of gravel or broken stone. Make sure that the colour of the gravel matches the stone of the rockery.
The layer of gravel will reduce weeding dramatically, as long as weeds are never allowed a foothold. Besides, the gravel helps to make a rockery seem more natural, and it sets off rock plants very well.
Like to learn more? Go to Garden.ie's Know-How section >