Rocks for Landscaping: What Rock is Best for Landscape?

A landscaping project will include both different plants and natural stones that your home’s appeal in outdoor space will be increased. Landscaping rocks are great for flower beds with a variety of sizes, colors, materials, and structures that you’ll have hundreds of options for a garden bed or any landscape yard. Using the best landscaping rocks helps you save money on maintenance and conserve water, especially in high-traffic areas.

But the question is: which type of landscaping rock is perfect for your landscaping design? There are many shapes, sizes, and styles of rocks served for different functional purposes. You can imagine a brick sidewalk in front of your door, a path with crushed rock among greeny plants, or shiny pebbles for your Zen garden would add focal points to your outdoor spaces.

Let’s break up all types of landscaping rocks into which option can fit your criteria for your landscape design best! Keep reading and determine your own design planning.

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No matter whether you have a garden bed or a flower bed, either of them needs a mulch as a ground cover. Both wood and rock mulch are the most popular choice, but which one would be better? Let’s take a look!

Wood Mulch

bark mulch

This is also known as bark mulch that you can find it anywhere, from your own garden to the street curb. As its name, it is made from tree bark with a reddish tan color. Many people are in favor of it due to the cheap price and natural color it brings. Moreover, it is because of wood that this mulch is good for your plant garden while providing enough nutrients they require.

However, when it gets old, the color will not be beautiful as it was. That’s why it is just good for short-term purposes as a ground cover. It’s also flammable you need to be so careful if you’re living in wildfire-prone areas or hot temperatures. And followed some landscape architects’ recommendations, you’ll have to replace wood twice a year since this mulch decomposes and decays, and even puts your plants at risk of disease.

Stone Mulch

rock mulch

Unlike the mulch from wood, stone mulch is not decomposed so you’ll not need to replace it periodically. This type of mulch is good for walkways or driveways in many forms, from granite, pea gravel, lava rock, or flagstone with the biggest advantage being weed control for your garden landscape. All of these advantages of stones will save you a lot of money and time when using them as a mulch.

However, that rocks don’t decompose means that they don’t also provide nutrients like wood. Moreover, they are so heavy that you will come to more difficulties when moving rocks than other types.


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

Mexican Beach Pebbles

mexican pebbles in cacti planter

Mexican beach pebbles are round with smooth surfaces and available in a wide range of dark colors, including black, dark gray, deep red, etc. These pebbles are made from basalt – one type of volcanic rock and collected by hand in Mexico – the origin of their name. These landscaping rocks are good in cacti planters.

And you should know that this type of landscaping rock is not cheap at all. This is because they have been polished through several weeks to become the smooth final form we usually see. This polishing process requires high-skilled experts with specialized equipment. Also, these experts must thoroughly understand all stone types and mineral properties so that they can finish this process successfully.


cobble stone in driveway

Cobblestones used in antique-looking pathways will bring you an old-world feeling with a variety of styles for you to choose from. They are rounded between 3 inches and 12 inches in size, which is relatively medium for landscaping rocks. Whether you prefer warm or cool tones, modern or vintage style, this natural stone will also create the focal point features, such as pools, ponds, garden beds, or water features for your landscape design.


Flagstone is flat and large in size, which is a good choice for paths, walkways, patios, and more. These flat stones are durable without the high maintenance and come in a variety of colors best for landscaping. You can add gravel or grass between each individual stone to secure them from wobbling.


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. Pebbles are best used for a patio, path, walkway, pool, playground, 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 landscaping rocks can hold heat that makes your trees damaged.

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River Rock

River rock is also a common landscape rock that belongs to smooth gravel. The average size of river rocks is from 3/4 to 2 inches, which is a bit bigger than pea gravel. The river rocks not only come 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 rocks

With its ideal-medium size, river rock is best used to landscape water fountains, borders, fences, plants and trees, and large boulders. This landscaping 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 landscape rocks instead of a truck or other heavy vehicle. And remember that the river rock cannot bring a comfortable feeling underfoot like smaller gravel.

Landscape Boulders

Landscape 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.

decorative boulders

Also, landscape 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 their large size, boulders will make you face difficulty 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 rocks

You can guess it: lava rock is made from volcanoes! Lava rocks 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 Granite Gravel

crushed gravel

Decomposed granite is a natural derivative of granite. 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.



Stone for Patio, Pathways, Stepping Stones

garden path

A garden path is the first thing you see when walking into the house. You don’t need a large space to have an amazing yard while you can landscape it by adding natural stone for a single path or patio. Let’s start the landscape design with flat rocks as stepping stones to serve the decorative purpose of your house.

Decorative Rock Garden

Because of the natural beauty and versatility, the decorative stone is added to your landscape as a wonderful way to accentuate your property. Moreover, most stones are not much expensive and you can save money when adding curb appeal to your home.

decorative garden

Landscape Design for Walls

retaining walls

Combining large landscaping rocks into a retaining wall is the most popular way to landscape with a natural stone. Retaining walls help to protect your inside property from seeking the eyes of neighbors or thieves. However, you should build a safe wall before going to a retaining wall project. Because once it collapses, it will injure anyone behind that wall.


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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