River Rock Landscaping: How to Select the Right Rock

Landscaping your gardens is a project requiring perfection in every detail in the yard. No matter whether it is a wonderful focal point in the backyard or a perfect appeal near the driveway, you must come from the tiniest details of the house, even choosing the right landscape rocks. You should know that there are several types of river rocks, from smooth pebbles to landscaping rocks, in different colors and sizes. For an amateur landscaper, knowing thoroughly the purpose of which type and size should be used in which project is a tough decision.

Too large rocks will make your landscape garden overwhelmed and other main items could come to faint, while too small rocks can seem like disappear by the rest of your lawn. In some projects, river rocks can add decoration as a drought-tolerant alternative while some can prevent weeds from attacking your plants without high maintenance as grass or mulch.

With the various shapes, sizes, colors, and textures of river rocks available, if you don’t know which is for your home, let’s take a look at this article to use these natural materials for your purpose.



Here is our quick way to select some common rocks for your application:

Pea Gravel

One first common rock is pea gravel (known as peach pebbles) which are just 1/4 inches to 3/4 inches with about $60 per cubic yard. This is the most affordable in the garden rocks. Pea gravel is best used for paths, walkways, pools, playgrounds, etc. These landscaping rocks come in many colors and smooth edges which are polished up over time by natural water.

pea gravel

Because the pebbles are so tiny, you need to add more solid edging around them so that they will not expand over other areas. The neutral color of these smooth pebbles will feature your fountains and aquariums. However, these rocks can hold heat that makes your trees damaged.

River Rocks

River rock is also a common landscape rock that belongs to smooth gravel. The average size of river rock is from 3/4 to 2 inches, which is a bit bigger than pea gravel. The river rock not only comes in a variety of colors, including brown, black, white, mixed colors, or a marble-like look but also is made of versatile colorings by many landscapers.

river rock

With its ideal-medium size, river rock is best used to landscape water fountains, borders, fences, plants and trees, and large boulders. The river rock has variations of colors, so you can choose a complimentary one for your home style. Also, medium-sized river rock is not scattered like the gravel – that’s why maintenance work could be finished much easier.

You’d better use a wheelbarrow if you want to move these rocks instead of a truck or other heavy vehicle. And remember that the river rock cannot bring a comfortable feeling underfoot like smaller gravel.


Boulders are one of the common landscaping rocks that are incredibly heavy with the same size as a half-man to 4 or 5 men. A wide range of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures of boulders can give you hundreds of decorative garden ideas. These sturdy stones are commonly featured in your backyard as retainer walls surrounded by other garden rocks, soft scaping, or hardscaping.

stone boulder

Also, boulders are used for building bench rocks, and outcroppings as well. Or if you live in drought-stricken areas where plants cannot grow well, you can use a boulder to replace a tree or shrub for natural purposes. Due to its large size, it will come to difficult with lawn care but much easier to maintain the boulder itself. Depending on the shapes of the boulders, you can also sit down on them but not look forward to walking on them!

Lava Rock

lava rock

You can guess it: lava rock is made from volcanoes! They broke down the large rocks into smaller pieces without smoothing the edges. There are two common colors of lava rock that you can come across: bold red and black. Both colors of lava rock can create great accents for desert landscapes as the ground cover, than a complementary for living plants.

Crushed Gravel

crushed gravel

This type of gravel is used for driveways or patios since its size is really small – which is just 5/8 of an inch or smaller, including dust and chips. Because this type of gravel has been crushed to fine sand and its edges are sharper, crushed gravel can be compacted easily to become a smooth surface for paths.

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Rock Paths

rocks in walkway

Because of its durability characteristic, river rock is an ideal option for pathways. If you have your walkway empty where nothing but weeds will grow in your yard, choose river rock to create a wonderful area without maintenance. The winding shape of the pathway along with pavers and river rock will bring you features for home and you’ll never worry about that stubborn spot anymore!

Natural Water Feature with Plants

stone fountain

It is easy to build a small stone fountain in your own backyard within a day. You just need to select some river rocks that you might be keen on and place them randomly followed by a ladder shape for water to flow down. Then, you can plant some trees around the fountain to bring greenery for your project.

Rock Planter

planter presentation

Let’s consider a raised bed planter made from river rock! This design can give some contrast with the plants between the gorgeous green and the neutral gray stone. Not only does this planter give unique attraction but it also helps drain well when keeping foliage free while watering.

Landscape Walls

You can build a landscaping retaining wall by wrapping river rock in a cage of galvanized steel wire. This wall will give you the best privacy at home from outside pervasion with an aesthetic look.

Rest Space

In landscaping, the river rock design can create a peaceful space as a breathing room. You can rest your body and your mind without being overwhelmed by too much stuff outside. The color, the form, or the sound of this can bring you the highest feeling of comfort.

Find more about our services – Green Arbor Landscaping


green arbor landscaping

Green Arbor Landscaping is renowned as a 35-year qualified and experienced landscaping company. Since 1998, Green Arbor Landscaping is a full-service business, specializing in landscape design, installation, garden service, and ground maintenance. We serve customers all around Bothell, Issaquah, Renton, Maple Valley, Bellevue, and the surrounding communities.

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