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Building a Rock and Sand Retreat

Sand and rock landscaping is becoming more and more popular as populations in the west continue to grow. Residents in desert regions of the Southwest have forgone grass in favor of a more environment- friendly look.

Get Creative, Let Nature Inspire You

Using these native materials doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with your landscaping. Large boulders can be used as borders or center pieces. Smooth rocks can be assembled to form a dry creek bed and sand and stone to create pathways.

These nature-inspired entryways and striking yard designs are the cornerstones of desert hardscaping. In the backyard, a patio made with pavers and sand will give you a peaceful retreat that’s durable and blends well with the environment. Add in some native plants, petrified wood, and vegetation if you like, but sometimes, all you need is sand and stone.

Drainage is Key

The key to a good rock garden is drainage. Soil mixed with sand gives the garden a chance to soak up excess water. The garden should be built with a dome effect, so water runs off, instead of collecting in pools. Most people wouldn’t automatically associate rock gardens with high alpine living, but the natural abrasive soil in these higher altitudes makes for good drainage.

Landscaping Comes First

Rock gardens are easy to build, but some landscaping needs to be done before you can place your main rocks or boulders. Excavate the area you’ve chosen, then lay two large rocks opposite of each other. These will be the focal points of the garden. Eventually you’ll move dirt around the rocks so they have a natural appearance. Make sure they have space for drainage, pathways, secondary rocks, and plants. It’s also important to dig out small localized pockets and fill them with compost mounds for plants and bulbs. Perennials should be used, although some annuals can be planted.

Wrapping Up the Rock Garden

Make sure the rock foundation is built first. Then turn to drainage and the mixing of sand with the native soil. Once those areas of concern are in the bag, work on building mounding in smaller locations for plants, rocks, or even dead wood. These planting areas should be filled with rich compost.



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