Rocks lend color, texture, and a touch of Zen to your garden, but they’re not right for every area of your yard. Using rocks for mulch is a more permanent solution than using organic materials such as pine straw or wood chips that break down over time. Rocks tend to retain heat, drying out the soil at night and heating up the plants from below. Keep the rocks around large plants such as trees and shrubs instead of around delicate flowers to keep all your garden plants healthy.
Cover the area where you plan to add rocks with landscape fabric. Cut it to fit the area using a utility knife or sharp scissors. Cut a slit from the side and an X in the fabric to accommodate an existing shrub or tree.
Install edging around the area to hold the rocks in place, as they tend to become displaced over time if not held in. Dig a trench the same width as the edging that’s one-quarter to one-half as deep as the edging is high. Tuck the landscape fabric edges into the trench. Lay the edging in place in the trench, backfilling with dirt around the edges to hold it in place. Use bricks, large stones or plastic edging.
Pour the rocks over the landscape fabric inside the edging. Continue adding rocks until they are 2 to 4 inches deep.
Scoop the rocks away from plant stems and trunks, leaving at least 2 inches of space uncovered.
If you’re not installing edging, which can help hold the landscape fabric in place, secure the edges of the fabric with landscape staples. Push the staples through the fabric and into the ground with your hands.