Depending on where you live, river rock is either a beautiful natural landscaping material worth paying good money for or something you long ago got tired of hitting with the lawn mower blade. If you’ve ever landscaped near a dry river bed, you’ll understand the latter problem.
Regardless of whether you have to hunt down the river rock you want or you already have it in abundance, you can put these smooth, richly colored stones to a number of decorative and practical uses in your landscape.
This articles discusses:
- Uses for Red and Black River Rock
- River Rock Walls (stacked and veneer)
- Engraved River Rocks
- River Rock Tiles
- River Rock Fireplaces
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Red and Black River Rock
River stones come in white, yellow, green, red, black and spotted or streaked mixtures of those colors. For some reason, though, red and black rocks seem to be the favorites with many home landscapers. Polished black or red rock is popular for use as mulch in flower beds and pots. It can also be used to create garden paths. Just make sure it’s deep enough to prevent weeds from growing though, but if you use it in a path, not so deep that it becomes hard to walk on. If you’re just looking for a way to accent with black and red rocks, try using these stones to edge a planting area or to outline different rows in the vegetable garden.
River Rock Walls and Pillars: Using Veneers
The majority of walls built from river rock use either stacked rock or rock veneer. The first version is created by simply stacking the stones and, if the wall is over three feet high or will be leaned or sat on, mortaring the stones in place. For the second, an already existing wall or pillar is covered in panels that have themselves been covered in rocks. Using the panels, called veneers, makes it easier to give a surface the look of having been built from stone than it would be to attach individual rocks directly to the surface of the existing structure.
Engraved River Rocks
Engraved river rocks are often used as pet memorials, but they can also mark the entrance to the garden, or sit along pathways or in flowerbeds. For instance, at the entry to your garden path you might have a stone reading something like “Tom and Sue’s Garden—est. 1995″
Another popular use is to have a river rock engraved with the name and birthdate of each child in the family. If you plant a tree when each child is born, an engraved stone like this makes the perfect marker for the planting bed.
Many engravers have stock titles and phrases ready to go or already engraved rocks for sales, which keeps the prices down. The stock phrases typically include thoughtful sayings like “Bloom where you’re planted” or humorous warnings like “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here.” These rocks usually range in size from a foot to an inch long, depending on how much is written on the rock.
River Rock Tiles
If you’re looking for decorative tile to be used on a wall or in flooring, one option is “river rock mosaic” tile. These are standard-sized tiles with individual small stones inset to form a design, like a tree, a butterfly, or just a colorful abstract pattern.
These tiles are also often used to create rustic-looking showers, but don’t forget if you live in a warm climate you can also build an outdoor shower from river rock.
A shower like this usually requires stacked river rock for the back wall of the shower and flat river rock to cover the base of the shower.
River Rock Fireplaces
For those chilly autumn—or even cold winter—evenings, a rock fireplace will not only keep you warm, but will add an extra touch of class to your backyard. The river rock fireplace is one of those landscaping features that manages to be both rustic and elegant, which makes it a great fit in almost any style of garden. You may be able to find free-standing design, but if you’d rather have the fireplace set into the wall of your home, you’ll most likely need to consult a construction company.
Whether you have to buy it from a supplier or just dig it up from your garden, river rock makes an elegant, inexpensive and all-natural way to add color and texture to your landscape.