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The 10 Types of Rocks for Landscaping in 2024

The 10 Types of Rocks for Landscaping in 2024

Rocks can be great additions to your landscape and help boost the natural appeal of your yard.

Since there are numerous landscaping rocks, we’ve explored ten types of rocks you can choose for your landscaping project.

Landscaping Rocks: A Summary

Whether you want to decorate your fountain, create a pathway in front of the house, or place them on flower beds, landscaping rocks are a versatile and low-maintenance option.

Some of the most common types of rocks for landscaping include:

  1. River rocks
  2. Crushed granite
  3. Decomposed granite
  4. Lava rocks
  5. Pea gravel
  6. Flagstones
  7. Cobblestones
  8. Boulders
  9. Beach pebbles
  10. Polished pebbles

The 10 Best Landscaping Rocks

Your choice of landscaping rocks depends on the type of project. Create visually appealing hardscape projects with the following rocks.

1. River Rocks

River Rocks
GASPRO 15 Pound River Rocks
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River rocks are small to medium-sized stones found on river beds. These rocks are smooth and come in different shapes and colors. They have a smooth texture and a round shape, all thanks to water, silt, and sediments that gradually wear them away.

You can find river rocks in black, white, or gray, making them excellent rocks for adding aesthetic quality to your yard. River rocks are among the most versatile landscaping rocks.

You can use them to control soil erosion or place them on flower beds. River rocks are also an excellent choice for building a walkway. They’re smooth and can’t damage your shoes or hurt your feet.

Their versatility, colors, shapes, and sizes make them a bit pricey. However, river rocks are worth the investment if you want to add a natural appeal to your landscape. They require little maintenance and won’t break down over the years.

2. Crushed Granite

Crushed Granite
6PK Raw Pink Granite, Igneous Rock Specimens
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Crushed granite can be a great option if you prefer artificial rocks for your landscaping project. You can find these rocks in quarries where a machine crushes them to form small, angular-shaped stones.

Homeowners prefer crushed granites because their shape and similar sizes (about 1 inch) enhance uniformity. You can use crushed granite in various ways.

These rocks make excellent inorganic mulch for your flower beds. You can also use them on pathways or along the edges of paths. They drain exceptionally well, preventing the formation of puddles in your yard.

Due to their loose nature, these landscaping rocks erode quickly and require replacement. They can also damage your shoes with their sharp edges. However, they’re more durable than decomposed granite and require little maintenance.

3. Decomposed Granite

Decomposed Granite
Southwest Boulder & Stone Landscape Decomposed Granite
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Unlike crushed granite, decomposed granite forms naturally and consists of finer particles. These rocks appear in ¼” pieces or smaller and can be:

  • Tan
  • Brown
  • Gray

When used in landscapes, they provide a natural, rustic look. Homeowners interested in a cheap DIY landscaping project should opt for decomposed granite. Use these rocks for paving walkways, driveways, and patios.

You can find them in different types, including loose decomposed granite, decomposed granite with resin, and stabilized decomposed granite. Your choice depends on your budget and landscaping needs.

Decomposed granite is less susceptible to erosion, requires less maintenance, and lasts longer. However, it may become mushy and muddy during rainy days.

4. Lava Rocks

Lava Rock
Midwest Hearth Lava Rock
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As the name implies, lava rocks come from crystallized lava in volcanic regions. These rocks come in red, black, or gray and can fit in your yard as accents. They’re lightweight, low-maintenance, affordable, and offer excellent drainage.

Lava rocks can be a fantastic choice if you prefer natural landscaping rocks for mulching your yard. When used in flower gardens, they will retain moisture, insulate the soil, and prevent weed growth.

Red and black lava rocks can add a pop of color to your landscape. When choosing lava rocks, consider your garden design, plant materials, and other landscape features. The goal is to ensure the lava rock color matches everything in your yard.

Before using lava rocks in your yard, remember that they’re lightweight. They can also sink into wet soil, so using a barrier such as landscape fabric is advisable before placing them in your yard.

5. Pea Gravel

Pea Gravel
MIGHTY109 Grey Pea Gravel
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Pea gravel is ideal if you’re looking for small landscaping rocks. These rocks come from the natural weathering of pebbles that form smooth pea-sized stones. You can find pea gravel near streams and water bodies.

Pea gravel is a versatile landscaping rock that’s easy to install and maintain. You can buy them in a mixture of pink, blue, gray, and earthy brown rocks. Mixing different colors complements your landscape and matches flowering plants.

Pea gravel’s smooth finish makes it the perfect landscaping rock for:

  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Driveways
  • Flower gardens

These rocks are common in dog parks and playgrounds since they provide a safe top layer. When laying pea gravel in your yard, it’s crucial to edge them properly to prevent movement.

With their smaller sizes, pea gravels can easily move out of their place. Use concrete blocks or install a landscape trim setup to prevent rock relocation.

6. Flagstones

Landscape Patio Flagstone
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Sedimentary rocks cut into flat, rectangular, square, or irregular shapes make flagstones. These stones are common in high-traffic areas that need reliable walkways.

You can install flagstones on your patio, main walkway, and pool area, or use them to build retaining walls. These natural stones are generally flat and slip-resistant.

You’ll find them in several forms, including:

  • Quartzite
  • Sandstone
  • Limestone
  • Bluestone

If you want stones that complement your buildings, you can go for cut flagstones, which are either square or rectangular.

Alternatively, irregular flagstones can add style and beauty to your landscape. Using different colors when installing flagstones helps you boost your yard’s visual appeal.

These stones will come in beige, red, and blue colors. The only downside is that installing them can be labor-intensive. Always hire a helping hand when undertaking an installation project.

7. Cobblestones

AKOAK 1 Pack 500g Natural Cobblestones
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Cobblestones are among the oldest landscaping materials. These stones were used in ancient times for paving streets. You can find these stones in quarries or river beds in rectangular or irregular shapes.

They come from:

  • Basalt
  • Granite
  • Limestone

If you have access to cobblestones, you can use them as alternatives to flagstones.

These landscaping rocks are perfect for walkways, driveways, patios, garden borders, and water features. They’re incredibly durable, weather-resistant, and easy to maintain.

However, riverbed cobblestones can create uneven surfaces that can be challenging for unsteady legs or snow removal. They’re also costly, and installation is labor-intensive.

8. Boulders

Airmax CrystalClear TrueRock Fake Fiberglass Rock
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Boulders are the largest landscaping rocks, measuring over 16” in diameter. Unlike smaller rocks on walkways and driveways, boulders make significant impressions in rock gardens, driveway entrances, and water features.

Homeowners with large landscapes can incorporate boulders to create eye-catching garden accents. These stones can be rounded, angular-shaped, or have flat sides. You can also find them in different colors, like brown, gold, tan, pink, gray, and green.

Boulders come from various rocks, including:

  • Marble
  • Granite
  • Limestone
  • Quartzite

You can line boulders along your garden beds, driveways, or walkways. If you’re struggling with soil erosion, you can install a retaining wall using boulders to reduce soil erosion.

9. Beach Pebbles

Beach Pebbles
Mexican Beach Pebbles
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If you have a bigger budget and wish to boost your yard’s visual appeal with landscaping stones, beach pebbles can be a great choice. These rocks have a smooth finish thanks to waves tumbling them.

They’re round and available in different sizes. You can choose beach pebbles from various colors, including black, dark gray, deep red, tan, brown, and green.

Landscapers use beach pebbles to create stunning walkways, water fountains, decorative ponds, tranquility, and Zen gardens.

When used as mulch alternatives, these landscaping rocks prevent weed growth and create a dramatic statement in your flower gardens.

These beautifully polished rocks are popular among homeowners creating new landscapes. They are versatile and can last a lifetime if well-maintained.

10. Polished Pebbles

Polished Pebbles
Midwest Hearth Natural Polished White Pebbles
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Polished pebbles are smooth, rounded natural stones that are finely polished to boost their luster. They are perfect ornamental rocks available in different colors and sizes.

For example, you can buy black or white polished pebbles in 1/2” to 2” diameter. If you want to accentuate your yard with a more sophisticated and stylish look, polished pebbles are your go-to option. You can lay them on flower beds to serve as mulch alternatives.

The good thing about these landscaping rocks is that they suppress weeds and retain moisture.

When incorporated into gardens, these rocks contrast with your colorful plants. You can also line them on your pathways or incorporate them near water features.

They’re highly durable but tend to fade faster if exposed to direct sunlight. You can maintain them by washing away any dirt or clearing debris covering them.

Things to Consider When Landscaping With Rocks

One of the most common types of rocks for landscaping, river rock and boulders, pictured alongside evergreen bushes

Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock

Below are a few things to consider before buying and incorporating landscaping rocks in your yard:

  • Identify and evaluate where you want to add landscaping rocks. Consult with your landscape designer if you’re handling a bigger project.
  • Consider the type of plants in your garden before selecting your favorite landscaping rocks to ensure they match well.
  • Consider the size of landscaping rocks that will perfectly match your space, and make a list of all the materials and tools needed when laying the rocks.
  • Lay a landscape fabric before placing landscaping rocks to prevent weed growth.
  • After laying the rocks, rinse them with clean water to remove accumulated dirt and dust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aerial shot of some of the most popular types of rocks for landscaping, flagstones and river rock and boulders

Wilm Ihlenfeld/Shutterstock

Here are some common questions about the different types of landscaping rocks:

How do I choose a landscape rock color?

Consider complementary colors when choosing landscape rocks. If your yard has plenty of green, a fantastic complementary color is red.

Consider complementary colors when choosing landscape rocks. If your yard has plenty of green, a fantastic complementary color is red.

The required depth when installing landscaping rocks depends on the size of the stone, area usage, location, and maintenance needs. As a general rule, install your decorative rocks about two inches deep. For larger rocks, you can place them 3-4 inches deeper.

What do you put under landscape rocks?

Before installing landscaping rocks, it’s advisable to put landscape fabrics to prevent weed growth, stabilize soil temperature, and help erosion control. You can put a non-woven or spun landscape fabric under your landscape rocks.

How do you prepare your yard for rock landscaping?

To prepare your ground for rock landscaping remove debris, grass, and weeds. Then, grade the area to provide a level floor, put a landscape fabric, and add soil.

Do rocks attract termites?

If termites are a significant concern in your landscape, adding landscaping rocks won’t attract them. Laying rocks on your garden beds as alternatives to mulch prevents weed growth and increases moisture retention.

So, Which Landscaping Rocks Are Best?

The best landscaping rocks are river rocks, crushed granite, decomposed granite, lava rocks, pea gravel, flagstones, cobblestones, boulders, beach pebbles, and polished pebbles.

These rocks come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Besides adding aesthetic value to your yard, landscaping rocks will serve as mulch, retaining walls, walkways, and more.