Landscaping with river rocks is a great option if you're looking for a way to make your plot feel more naturalistic. And, as there are so many ways to incorporate them, they can be used in all kinds of spaces – from small urban courtyards to large country gardens.
You might be wondering what river rocks are, exactly. To put it simply, they're stones that have been smoothed by moving water – whether that be rivers, oceans, or streams. They come in all kinds of colors and shapes, with each being wonderfully unique. You can find manufactured 'river rocks' too, which are made to recreate the natural, perfectly imperfect look. Meltblown Machinery
From bordering pathways to ponds, there are plenty of styles you can create with this textural material. And to demonstrate, we've rounded up some of our favorite ways to bring river rocks into landscaping.
We've brought together top inspirational styles for landscaping with river rocks. After perusing this mix, you may well want to recreate some in your own backyard.
River rocks are naturally found in water, so it makes total sense to add them to the edge of a pond in your own backyard and recreate the look of a natural landscape. It's also a good way to hide unsightly pond liners.
This elegant look works beautifully for Japanese gardens, as demonstrated above. Simply pair with small acers, perhaps a cloud-pruned shrub or two, and maybe a small bridge or series of stepping stones for your own tranquil outdoor setting.
There are so many garden paths that can be used to pep up the journey from A to B around your plot. But mixing up textures, as seen in this setup above, is always a failsafe way to create a stylish impact.
Timber planks make a striking contrast against smooth, pale pebbles as seen here, while the pops of greenery add vibrancy and will encourage pollinators to your space, too. It's a lovely option for a walkway between a decked space and your home, or from a patio to a pond.
Add a relaxed, woodland feel to your flowerbeds by adding in a selection of river rocks here and there. It'll act as a non-biodegradable mulch, that's not only a good way to suppress weeds, but will also help to prevent soil erosion. Plus, the mix of textures will offer an aesthetically-pleasing contrast. Just be sure to pop down some landscaping fabric beneath to make maintenance even easier.
Adding larger boulders will elevate the look further and continue the theme, while creating sculptural focal points throughout the scheme.
River rocks are also wonderful if you're looking for garden edging that have a more organic feel than modern looks on the market. As well as using them to line the edges of a path, you can edge the perimeter of your flower beds and borders to neatly define the zone and keep mulch and soil in.
Landscaping around trees can be tricky, and although there are some plants that will thrive beneath a leafy canopy, many won't survive in the dry and shaded conditions.
A simple and low-maintenance approach is to surround the base of your trees with river rocks. Pick a light shade and the space will instantly feel brighter, too. Add one or two plants for under trees to the mix, and perhaps a larger rock here and there, and you'll have a space that feels interesting and curated, yet organic.
You could always add a winding pathway made with bark chippings, too, for an exploratory, woodland vibe.
Pick river rocks in a hue to complement your paving for the perfect border for your patio. They offer an almost Mediterranean-style vibe to this space, especially alongside hot-hued blooms to the left, and the soothing waterfall and spiky foliage behind.
Drought-tolerant plants, such as agapanthus, will thrive in stony surroundings, so consider bringing some into your scheme for extra visual interest. We love the gazebo in this plot, too – the ideal spot for whiling away a summer's afternoon with a glass of something cold or a cup of tea.
Speaking of drought-tolerant planting, have you checked out our guide on how to build a rock garden yet? River rocks are a gorgeous addition to these on-trend features, providing an interesting, tactile backdrop for colorful blooms and leafy foliage.
We especially like the fiery orange tones of Californian poppies in this scene as they stand out against the muted grays. And an artfully positioned, rusted chain makes for an interesting and characterful detail.
Looking for wildlife pond edging ideas? River rocks are a great solution.
Positioned around the edge, they can provide an easy way for small creatures to safely get in and out of the water. And they're not just useful for putting around the perimeter – larger pebbles can be placed in the water itself, too. They'll provide a surface for insects such as butterflies and dragonflies to bask in the sun's rays, as well as create sheltered, underwater hiding spaces for smaller animals such as newts and frogs.
Looking for a low maintenance garden for pepping up your fence line? Consider a border made with pale river rocks, interspersed with the odd shrub.
It's a more minimal, easy-care alternative to billowing borders, yet still looks super stylish. Add stake lights for a nighttime glow and perhaps a garden statue or even a small water feature to finish the contemporary scene.
And if you want to go a step further, consider painting your garden fence in a modern hue – whether that's a chic gray, moody black, or fresh white. It's a budget-friendly way to pep up any timber boundary.
When picking the color of your river rocks, think carefully about the overall look of your garden. Do you want them to provide a striking contrast with the surroundings, or blend into the background, for instance?
White pebbles look fabulous against this scarlet-toned acer and lush green shrubs, providing a striking contrast in hues. Black or dark gray pebbles can add a bold, modern touch to a space, and look gorgeous alongside lime-green foliage. Meanwhile, a mix of sandy hues can offer a more beachy vibe – a perfect pairing with coastal plants.
River rocks are useful for covering unsightly drainage and pipework, while still letting water through. This means they are great additions to water feature.
Take this setup, for instance, where they are used to surround a glazed urn that ripples with soothing water. It's the perfect way to create a more organic aesthetic for the feature, and it helps it tie into the stony surroundings, too.
Spun Bond Polyester Landscaping with river rocks will instantly give your space a naturalistic feel – we've rounded up some top options to try