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Blessed with rocks

POSTED: November 11, 2009 4:00 a.m.

One thing Dawson County is blessed with is rocks.

  

Rocks are trouble for many gardeners. It has been said, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. So, if you are a gardener with rocks, why not make a rock garden. 

  

Many houses have yards with steep banks or areas of irregular terrain that may be used for a rock garden. A rock garden is an ideal way to stop soil erosion, while creating an appealing landscape feature.

  

The most attractive rock gardens are those with a natural setting that blend with a pile of stones on level ground.  A hillside with a rocky outcrop is ideal.

  

An informal design is most effective, and simplicity is very important. Unless the area is quite large, avoid the use of excessive numbers of plants or elaborate rock formations. The most desirable location is a steep bank that may be available at the back or side of the property.

  

A pool of water or a miniature stream and waterfall will add charm to the rock garden. Trees are desirable to provide partial shade, and shrubs should be used for background.

  

If adequate space is available, the garden may include paths made with flat stones or pine needles and steps on steep slopes to encourage closer inspection and greater enjoyment.

  

Plan the rock garden for easy maintenance. The most attractive ones are usually so you reach to the center to remove undesirable weeds, prune plants, or set out new species. A sufficient number of large flat or rounded stones should be present to serve as a place to walk or stand while doing maintenance jobs in the garden.

  

Provide an adequate depth of good soil for your plants in the pockets between and behind rocks. This should be done while the garden is being constructed. 

  

The soil should be well drained to a depth of at least 12 inches to promote desirable growth of plants. Most rock garden plants cannot tolerate poor drainage.

  

Add compost or shredded peat moss to the soil to increase the organic matter content and to improve the fertility.

  

Except for trees, which provide partial shade, and shrubs, which serve as background or accent features, most of the plants in a rock garden should be relatively small or dwarf in size.

  

Plants are used to complement the rocks and must not hide or detract from the beauty of the stones.

  

Plants for the rock garden should require a minimum of care. Select plants that will tolerate the growing conditions, such as a wet or dry soil or an exposure that is windy, hot and sunny, or cool and shady.

  

Dwarf evergreen shrubs may be used to give a permanent quality to the rock garden. Hardy native ferns, perennial flowering plants, miniature roses and spring-flowering bulbs add interest and color.

 

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