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Old 05-08-2011, 11:22 AM
 
Location: midwest suburbia
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Default Planting in river rock

The house we bought last year has a border of river rock around much of the perimeter. I'd love to take it out but that's just not going to happen. There are quite a few shrubs and a few perennials planted in it, but I'd like to add more flowers. Would annuals and bulbs do well planted in river rock or would I do better to stick with only perennials?
Also, there are some patches of ajuga here and there that camouflage it pretty well. Would vinca or pachysandra do well in the rocks too? TIA.
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Old 05-09-2011, 02:28 PM
 
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Most plants are planted in soil, not rocks. The fact that you have plants and bushes planted and thriving says that there is soil present in some form. The assumption here is that the river rocks were used as a form of mulch. If that is the case you should be able to plant annuals and bulbs as well. If the rocks are very large you may need to leave spaces for the bulbs to emerge from, although they are often capable of growing through a variety of obstacles.

You will need to remove some of the rocks to check your soil to determine if it needs amendment (soil tests are always a good bet when planting new plants)and you will need to apply a slow release fertilizer after planting but before returning the rocks to the garden. It will be harder to tell if the soil is adequately moist with rock as a mulch but you should be able to work out how often and how deeply after a while from experience.

If using river rock a a mulch is fairly common to your area you can also check in with the local Master Gardener's Association for more advice on its use and what can and can't survive in your area.
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:03 PM
 
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Not sure what zone you are in but I'm in Zone 8 and the house we have has a alot of rock gardens, left from the previous owners. Some have gravel size pieces and others have larger stone pieces as well as some volcanic rock. I planted liriope (monkey grass), Aztec grass, lantana, passion vine, oleander, clematis, hostas and threw a bunch of various seeds all through out the rock beds. I wasn't sure how they would all turn out but they all are flourishing. Honestly I am surprised they are all doing so well, just growing out from the rocks. I wanted perennials, I don't want to deal with annuals and the only annuals are the seeds.
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Old 05-09-2011, 06:18 PM
 
Location: midwest suburbia
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Txtoal, are you talking about several inches of rock over the soil? Or Arizona-type landscaping with a lighter covering of rock over dirt? I like annuals that reseed but I don't think they will since the river rock is there to prevent weeds. I'm in zone 5 by the way.
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Old 05-09-2011, 08:10 PM
 
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I would say overall it is a lighter covering of rock over dirt, more like Arizona type. One bed has several layers of rocks, then dirt. Another bed just has one layer of rocks but the rocks are bigger.
Do the river rocks that you have really help with the weeds? The one downside I have noticed for me is that I get weeds, lots of them. I have to pull them out frequently, it can be rather tedious.
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Old 05-09-2011, 09:02 PM
 
Location: midwest suburbia
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I do have some small weeds in spots but not too much to keep up with. Except there are 8 maple trees in the yard, I pulled hundreds of seedlings before the summer was over last year. The previous owner might have been using a weed killer, I don't know.
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:41 AM
 
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We have a river rock bed with a lot of "steppable" types of plants in it. The plants are planted below the rock, in the soil. They can't grow in the rock alone. We have a weed mat under the stones to keep out the weeds.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:05 AM
 
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I have thought about taking out all the rocks (not something I really want to do) and put a weed mat down. I am assuming, I have never done it before, you put the mat over the dirt and then poke holes where you want your plants, and then replace the rocks?
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txtoal View Post
I have thought about taking out all the rocks (not something I really want to do) and put a weed mat down. I am assuming, I have never done it before, you put the mat over the dirt and then poke holes where you want your plants, and then replace the rocks?

Exactly. Quite a task should you choose to accept young Jedi.

I have created thousands and thousands of square feet of river rock planters and dry creek beds. My default irrigation plan for those areas is drip irrigation and micro sprays. Its a perfect environment for xeriscaping.


Make sure rock area is graded, drained and irrigated per some sort of plan. Then you can start the arduous task of covering the entire area with landscaping felt. I use the cloth like more expensive material instead of the plastic as it lasts longer, better moisture penetration and breaths permitting expiration for the ground. Yes ground does breathe.

I hold the fabric in place with lawn staples. Long u shaped stakes made of metal. As it rusts it bonds with the ground and holds better. Then I place all my plants, cut fabric, dig planting holes and plant. I water at least two days before replacing rock to water plants correctly and ensure proper back fill and grading of planting holes.

I run the drip irrigation on top of the fabric but under the rocks to allow for easier repair. Also a good time to put in landscape lighting if so desired.

Make sure all dirt is removed from fabric that occurred during planting and replace rocks. What you'll find is you need more rocks. As the rock will not sink into the ground but lay on top make sure to drop the grade of the soil by 1/2 to 1 inch around areas that flush up against concrete, lawns, buildings etc...

For flower annual areas you can create beds by taking out a larger area of fabric to create bunches or color spots as I like to call them. I like to use micro sprays for the annuals.

Good luck.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulldogdad View Post
Exactly. Quite a task should you choose to accept young Jedi.

I have created thousands and thousands of square feet of river rock planters and dry creek beds. My default irrigation plan for those areas is drip irrigation and micro sprays. Its a perfect environment for xeriscaping.


Make sure rock area is graded, drained and irrigated per some sort of plan. Then you can start the arduous task of covering the entire area with landscaping felt. I use the cloth like more expensive material instead of the plastic as it lasts longer, better moisture penetration and breaths permitting expiration for the ground. Yes ground does breathe.

I hold the fabric in place with lawn staples. Long u shaped stakes made of metal. As it rusts it bonds with the ground and holds better. Then I place all my plants, cut fabric, dig planting holes and plant. I water at least two days before replacing rock to water plants correctly and ensure proper back fill and grading of planting holes.

I run the drip irrigation on top of the fabric but under the rocks to allow for easier repair. Also a good time to put in landscape lighting if so desired.

Make sure all dirt is removed from fabric that occurred during planting and replace rocks. What you'll find is you need more rocks. As the rock will not sink into the ground but lay on top make sure to drop the grade of the soil by 1/2 to 1 inch around areas that flush up against concrete, lawns, buildings etc...

For flower annual areas you can create beds by taking out a larger area of fabric to create bunches or color spots as I like to call them. I like to use micro sprays for the annuals.

Good luck.
Holy smokes, yes that is quite a task. What are microsprays?
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