If you are looking to smarten up your landscape, flower bed, or garden in general, adding decorative rocks is both attractive and useful. They can enhance the aesthetic of your yard, and can sometimes even be used as mulch.
When it comes to rock-based landscaping, it’s beneficial to apply a fabric bed- known as landscaping fabric– for the base of your rocks. This makes them easier to clean, and less likely to get mixed in with soil and smaller non-ornamental rocks.
We’ve created a set of easy-to-follow instructions for applying an underlay for rocks, garden stones, and similar inorganic materials you may use as a groundcover.
Preparing the Ground
First off, you will want to weed the area you are working with. It’s a good idea to spray a well-branded weed killer after you have weeded to make sure no aftergrowth will sneak through your freshly laid fabrics.
Once you have weeded well, you want to level out the ground. Remove any high spots and fill any low spots, to even out the ground surface.
You also want to make sure that there are no rocks, bark, sticks, or other debris where you plan to lay the fabric. Protruding objects can wear down the fabric and create holes over time.
A flat, smooth surface will allow the fabric to lay tightly over the ground, creating a uniform base for the rocks.
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Laying the Fabric
When it comes to applying the landscape fabric, you want to start at the end and work your way across the landscaping area.
If you have plants in the area where you intend to lay the rock bed, be sure to cut an “X” shape into the fabric. That way, the plants can pass through without causing damage.
When you are overlapping the landscape fabric for curved or cornered areas, make sure not to overlap the edges more than 8 inches. You don’t need to cut the extra material off. Doing so would create a gap that would allow soil to leak through.
Pins and fasteners are a great way of securing the landscape fabric to the ground. Normally, you can use a hammer to knock the pins firmly into the ground. Make sure they are all at regular intervals.
Once it’s laid, the last step is to bury all the seams and edges with a shallow layer of topsoil. This helps secure the fabric, and helps it blend into the landscape.
Laying The Rocks
It’s a good idea to apply a small layer of gravel on top of the fabric before setting the rocks. This provides a protective barrier for the landscape fabric. It also gives the rocks a “bed” of support for the rocks, that helps reduce eventual sinkage.
Now that the fabric has been laid and pinned, and the gravel has been placed, you can start to lay your rocks. Be sure you’re using soft, rounded rocks with no sharp edges or corners. Rounded or “tumbled” rocks don’t create a risk of puncturing or ripping the landscape fabric.
Aside from enhancing your yard with texture and color, a rock bed with landscape fabric has some practical benefits as well.
Rock gardens function as a form of inorganic mulch when used in a flower bed or a hedge of shrubs. They help regulate the temperature of the soil, thus providing a form on insulation in both hot and cold weather.
Additionally, rock gardens help keep out weeds by completely covering the ground and topsoil. Utilizing landscaping fabric completely prevent seeds from reaching the ground, and makes your rocks much easier to clean.
Learn more about the beauty and benefits of Flower Beds with Rocks Instead of (organic) Mulch.
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