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6 Low Maintenance Ideas For Landscaping With River Rock

River rock is an attractive and low-maintenance way to spruce up your landscaping. There are many different things you can do with river rock. There are different colors, sizes, and styles, which helps you to create different looks or designs with your landscaping.

One of the main benefits of landscaping with river rock is that there is little to no maintenance. It won’t require the same upkeep as living elements in your landscaping like plants, bushes, and grass. It’s very much a set-it-and-forget-it material.

succulents and river rocks

Ideas For Landscaping With River Rock

5 Pounds River Rocks, Pebbles, 1-2 Inches Garden Outdoor Decorative Stones, Natural Polished Mixed Color Stones

Some other benefits of river rock are that they last forever, and it is immune to sun damage and water damage. It’s one of the most versatile landscaping materials and comes in a variety of textures, sizes, and colors. You can completely change the look and feel of a landscape with river rock.

When designing spaces with your river rock, it can be very helpful to see what other people have done with it to give you some ideas. It also helps to understand what river rock is and where it comes from. We’ll explain more about that below.

Love rocks in the landscape? Here’s how to create a low maintenance rock garden

Here are some ideas:

1. Create a walkway

river rock walkway

One way to use river rocks in landscaping is to create a walkway or path throughout your garden or yard. This could be a small path from the driveway to the front door or a larger or more elaborate pathway anywhere you want in your lawn or garden.

See some beautiful garden walkways for inspiration.

2. Design a mosaic

star shaped river rock mosaic

You can also use river rocks to design your own beautiful mosaic. You can create your own or use a pattern to put any type of design into your chosen landscaping. Some people like to put a monogram, family crest, or initials. Or you might design a flower, bird, or other natural elements.

3. Replace mulch

Beautiful lavender in front of a white fence and surrounded by rocks

Another great use for river rock is to replace mulch. Mulch typically has to be replaced each season, but river rock will stay for many, many years: just make sure to lay a thick, durable weed cloth barrier on the ground before you add your river rocks. 

4. Line the front of your home

river rock used instead of gravel in front of the house

You can also use river rock to line the front of your home or all around the perimeter of your home. It gives a sleek, clean appearance and helps reduce and prevent weeds from growing right alongside your house.

5. Line your driveway

river rock used in the driveway

You can use river rock to decorate one or both sides of your driveway. You can use the rocks alone or with plants and lawn décor added. If your local climate suits it, succulents and cacti do well like this.

Like in the image above, You can incorporate river rock into your driveway cement. It creates a unique and beautiful look.

6. Decorate a slope

hillside garden with colorful flowers and river rocks in between

If your yard has a slope, it can be difficult to find plants that grow well there and other landscaping elements that will not run off when it rains. River rock can be a great, low-maintenance choice for decorating a yard slope.

In the image above, you can see a beautiful marriage of colorful flowers, large rocks, and river rocks that are pleasant to look at and easy to maintain.

Here are some essential things to know about landscaping with river rock.

Advantages of Landscaping with River Rocks

There are several advantages to using river rock in landscaping, but one of the first is that the maintenance is so easy. There is virtually no maintenance once you install the rocks. You can if they get dirty and you want to hose them off with a water hose. Many people don’t even bother to do that since a bit of dirt gives it a more natural look anyway.

Some other advantages are:

  • doesn’t attract pests
  • has many colors and options available
  • can help improve drainage in the landscape
  • holds up well in high-traffic areas
  • lasts much longer than mulch
  • helps you save money
  • durable and doesn’t break down easily

Now, let’s take a look at some of the potential disadvantages.

Disadvantages Landscaping with River Rocks

There are always some downsides to consider, even with the best ideas. Possible disadvantages of river rock include:

  • River rock can get hot
  • Rocks often leave cracks that weeds can grow through (you can avoid this by laying a weed barrier under the rocks)
  • River rock can sink into the ground over time
  • Rock provides no nutrients as a ground cover

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages, it’s possible to see that certain types of property will do better with river rock in the landscaping than others.

Types of Property that Work Well with River Rocks

Some properties that work well for river rock landscaping are very dry climates. If grass doesn’t grow well, or you don’t have time to maintain the grass, you might use rock instead.

You might also use river rocks in a property with many flower beds: use them as edging or in the flower beds to prevent erosion or mulch spilling out when it rains.

Types of River Rocks

River Rocks and Pebbles5 Pounds River Rocks, Pebbles – Natural Polished Mixed Color StonesAmazon buy buttonNatural Decorative Polished Mixed Pebbles Natural Decorative Polished Mixed Pebbles for LandscapingAmazon buy buttonDecorative Stones River Rocks Polished Decorative Pebbles Amazon buy button

River rock refers to a group of rocks that are worn with soft, rounded edges from the action of moving water. Naturally, you can find river rocks in rivers, streams, and around beaches and other bodies of water. They can be sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic. It all depends on the geography of the area they are found in.

For landscaping purposes, you can also find river rock that is artificially manufactured. Due to high demand, there will be manufactured rocks with the same look and shape as if they occurred naturally, but without upsetting natural resources. Different types of river rocks give you different looks in your landscaping.

Choose the Right Rocks

The type of river rock you choose will make a big difference in your landscape’s overall look and feel. Because river rock is so versatile, it can be very helpful to learn more about the types of rocks available before deciding.

Granite river rocks

1/4" Granite Mini Pea Gravel, 5lb Bag - Decorative Natural granitic Gneiss Gravel for Aquariums, Landscaping, Vase Fillers, Plants, Fairy Gardens, Bonsai.

A popular type of river rock is granite. This is the most common and easiest to find for landscaping and decorative purposes. Granite usually has a banded or speckled appearance and is made of coarse grains of minerals. Typically, you will have quartz in granite rock. It can vary in colors and black, white, gray, green, purple, and brown hues.

Basalt river rocks

Another option is basalt, which means it formed when lava cooled above the surface of the earth’s crust. This type of river rock has a finer grain and can be in colors and hues of green, dark green, gray, and almost black. Smaller versions of this stone are often used in flower arrangements. It can give a sleek, dark look to your landscaping.

Schist river rock

This metamorphic rock formed deep in the earth under much pressure and heat. It’s less common in availability when it comes to landscaping. They are usually light to dark grey shade. And they are rectangular. They give a nice, natural feel to the landscaping.

Polished and manufactured

The easiest to find for landscaping purposes is polished and manufactured rock. These are not found naturally in the world, but they are created to look like the ones that appear naturally. They are cheaper and easier to make, which means you can get more of it for your needs, and for a good price.

Landscaping with River Rock FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions about landscaping with river rock.

Where do river rocks come from?

Despite their name, all river rocks do not come straight from rivers. Some river rock used in landscaping is artificially manufactured.

How do you clean river rocks?

Typically, river rocks don’t need to be cleaned. Natural rain will rinse them off as needed. However, spray them with a water hose if you need to clean them.

Do you need a barrier under your river rocks?

Yes, you should put a weed barrier down underneath your river rocks before you place them in your landscaping. This will help keep the rock from sinking into the soil and reduce weeds coming through cracks in the rocks.

Conclusion of Landscaping with River Rock

Now that you know these great ideas for landscaping with river rock, you can begin planning for yourself. We hope that these ideas will help spur some creative ideas for your own landscaping and that you now know more about how to use river rock.

Which ideas do you think you might want to try for yourself?

6 low maintenance ideas for landscaping with river rock

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Lisa Clark is a freelance writer who grew up on farmland, then moved to the city, and has now retired back to her rural roots. She's having fun teaching her kids about gardening, planting flowers, and collecting houseplants.

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