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Best Types of Landscaping Rocks for Your Garden

If you are planning a new garden or are looking at improving your existing layout, you want to consider all aspects. This includes the plants, edging, and landscaping rocks.

Landscapes often look best when they are natural. Including as many natural elements as possible will help to create a calming aesthetic.

When working on your landscape design, the last thing you probably think about are landscaping rocks. But they are just as important as plants.


Different Varieties of Natural Landscaping Rocks

Garden rocks are ideal for adding height, texture, and color. They can even be used to create a decorative focal point. Below, you will learn more about the many different kinds of landscape rocks. 

We hope our guide will make it easier for you to choose the best rocks for your garden design.

Choosing the Best Landscaping Rocks

Landscaping rocks can be used for a wide variety of purposes. You can use them as decorative features, as an edging material, or to build walls.

But before you get your heart set on a certain type of landscaping rock, check for availability and cost. The accessibility and size of the stones will greatly impact the cost.

This can all vary depending on where you call home, such as where certain styles of landscaping rocks in Florida might be readily available, that particular style of rock might be much more difficult to acquire in states such as New York or Rhode Island.

Landscape rocks that are local to your area are usually the most affordable option. To get a quick idea of what types of stones are available in your area, give your local quarry a call.

If you have a small area you are working on, you may be considering small decorative rocks. You can often find these sold in bags at home and garden stores.

If you are interested in using small decorative gravel for a large area, you will have to buy it by the cubic yard from a landscaping supply company.

Don't hesitate to consult with limestone dealers to find the perfect fit when looking for the best types of landscaping rocks for your garden.

Roles of the Landscaping Rocks to Your Garden

Are the landscape rocks serving a purpose other than aesthetics? Below are some other reasons for using landscape rocks.

Choosing the Best Landscaping Rocks

Use Landscaping Rocks as Mulch or Ground Cover

Landscape rocks can be used instead of mulch. You can also use the stones to cover unsightly areas or create walking paths. If the stones will be used as a path, look for something small that is easy to walk on.

You do not want them to move around too easily. A good choice is often small, crushed limestone. 

Click here to find out which types of rocks you can use as mulch

Drainage Issues

Do you have an area with drainage issues? You can use garden rocks to create a barrier. Or you can use the stones to make a French drain that will help take care of any wet spots.

Erosion Prevention

If you have an area that is washed out easily, you can use landscape rocks to help slow down the erosion.

Protect Your Plants

Different types of plants require varying amounts of sunlight. For plants that require very little sunlight, you can use decorative rocks to block the sun. 

For plants that require lots of sunlight, you can use rocks to bounce sun onto the plants.

Reduce Weeding

Landscape rocks can reduce the amount of weeding you have to do. An example of this is a limestone driveway. If you have bad weeds, you can use a limestone with dust.

The dust acts as a thin concrete layer when it gets wet and then dries. This will help prevent the weeds from growing.


Will the garden rocks be walked or driven on? If so, you want a rock that will be able to handle all the wear. Look for stones such as limestone or pavers.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Landscape Rocks

After putting a ton of work into your landscaping project, you want the final results to be perfect. Before you make your final decision on which types of landscape rocks to use, take into consideration:

Factors to Consider When Choosing Landscape Rocks

Garden Rock Appearance

Most people think that all rocks are the same. But they are not. They vary in color, texture, shape, and size. When choosing your landscaping rocks, make sure that they are going to complement the overall design of your garden. 

See our guide on what is rock gardening and its benefits here

Is it a Focal Point

Are you wanting the landscape rocks to be focal points? If so, you will probably want to purchase large landscaping rocks. If you are wanting the stones to be a ground cover or decorative feature, you will want smaller landscape rocks.

Garden Theme

Does your garden design have a specific theme? Choose the garden rocks that will add to the design. For example, if you have a tropical theme, you can incorporate lava rocks. If you are creating a Zen Garden, you will want river rocks.

Crushed or Smooth Stones

Are you looking for a stone with jagged edges or a smooth surface? Crushed stone will have a rough texture. You can often find crushed limestone used in driveways.

The rough texture can help with traction. Smooth stones on the other hand can roll around when walked or driven on. Smoother stones are often used when you are looking for a crisp, clean look.

Stone Color

Look for a stone color that will complement the overall design of your garden and home. You can even combine different types of stones to create decorative patterns.

Different Varieties of Natural Landscaping Rocks & Manmade Pavers on the Market

There are a wide variety of landscaping rocks on the market. Below you will find a list of the most common types available. We will also give you examples of how to use the stones in your landscaping design.


Limestone is often used on driveways and walking paths

Limestone is light gray in color, so it is great for creating contrast. It is often crushed, so it will have a rough texture. You can also find large limestone boulders and slabs.

Limestone is often used on driveways and walking paths. You can also use it in garden beds. If you do plan on using it in your garden, take note that it will change the PH and acidity levels.

River Rocks

River Rocks are generally used to improve on the natural beauty of your garden

River rocks are often used for decorative purposes. The rocks come in a variety of colors and sizes. River rocks are generally used to improve on the natural beauty of your garden.

They can be used as a ground cover, or you can incorporate them into a water feature.

Pea Gravel and Pebbles

Pea gravel and pebbles are often used for decorative purposes and drainage

Pea gravel and pebbles are usually muted in color. However, the colors can range from browns and grays to pinks and blues. They are comparable to river rocks.

Both pea gravel and pebbles are naturally formed. Pea gravel and pebbles are often used for decorative purposes and drainage. They can be used on walkways and driveways.

However, since the stones are round and smooth, they can roll around. These materials can be hard to walk on and drive on.


Flagstones can be used to build retaining walls, walkways, patios, and driveways

Flagstones can be made from limestone, slate, sandstone, travertine, or bluestone. They are somewhat flat with rounded edges. They are large landscaping rocks that have been cut flat.

Flagstones can be found in a wide variety of colors and shapes. These decorative rocks can be tricky to work with since they have rough cuts.

Flagstones can be used to build retaining walls, walkways, patios, and driveways.

Lava Rocks

Lava Rocks are ideal for tropical and desert themed gardens

Lava rocks are lightweight and low maintenance. The volcanic rocks form naturally and are available in red, brown, and black. These landscape rocks are ideal for tropical and desert themed gardens.

They can also be used in fire pits. They also make great slug repellents.

Landscape Boulders

Boulders are a great choice to create a natural focal point

Boulders are available in different types of stone. They are the largest landscaping rocks. Boulders are extremely heavy and hard to move. When placing large landscaping rocks or boulders, you may need to rent a piece of equipment.

If you are looking to create a natural focal point, boulders are a great choice. They add depth and height to your garden.


Pavers can be used for garden edging, walls, patios, driveways, and pathways.

You can find pavers made from brick or concrete. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are somewhat heavy, yet easy to work with.

Pavers have many different functions. You can use them for garden edging, walls, patios, driveways, and pathways.


Cobblestone are made from natural rocks such as limestone, basalt, and granite

Cobblestones are made from natural rocks such as limestone, basalt, and granite. They are cut into small rectangular shapes. Cobblestones are often used to create a cottage charm. 

You can use them to make walkways and driveway aprons. They are very durable and will last longer than pavers.

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones can be made from natural stone or concrete

Stepping stone can be made from natural stone or concrete. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Stepping stones are usually used to create walkways through gardens and grassy areas.

Once installed, they are typically surrounded with mulch or gravel.

Artificial Landscape Rocks and Pavers

You can find all types of artificial rocks and pavers. They came in all sizes, shapes, and colors. They are generally made from plastic, rubber, or fiberglass.

Artificial rocks and pavers are lightweight and often weather resistant. They are great for garden edging and other decorative purposes. However, they are hollow and can be easily damaged. So, they should not be used for driveways or walkways.

Add Different Types of Landscaping Rocks to Your Garden Design

Using landscaping rocks in your landscaping project will definitely add to the overall design. They create a natural look that is perfect for outdoor spaces.

There are so many different types of landscaping rocks; we are positive you will find one that works perfectly in your design.

About the Author Lane Perry

Lane shares her knowledge and creative ideas with our audience at Sumo Gardener as an exterior decorator. She has previously worked as an exterior decorator on home renovation projects across the west coast USA, adapting to different environments for both large and small homes. When it comes to transforming your outdoor entertainment space or coming up with creative ways to enjoy your garden, Lane is our expert.

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