It is impossible to imagine the landscape design of an individual or suburban area without picturesque corners designed to decorate the garden and so please the eyes of their owners. A “highlight” that can instantly transform the look of a garden landscape – an exotic guest for our latitudes, originally from the Mediterranean – an alpine slide, created in the form of an island of wildlife in the Alpine mountains, made of rock rock with bright splashes of lush vegetation. We invite you to figure out how this structure is arranged.
Types and diagrams of the device rock garden
Armed with patience and imagination, you can easily create a rock garden with your own hands. Let’s look at how to properly plan and lay an alpine slide without involving specialized specialists. Please note that the main component in the construction of a rock garden is a group of stones of various sizes, the “gray silence” of which is diluted with representatives of the flora characteristic of the alpine area – conifers, cover and saxifrage plants. By creating a rock garden in the country or near a country house, you form a mountainous fragment of nature that resembles a natural one, therefore both stones and plants need to be arranged in a chaotic, natural way.
Depending on the principle on which the stones are selected and placed, rock gardens are of the following types:
- Rock – a steep alpine slide with dominant large boulders at the base, surrounded by stones of medium and small size, placed closer to the top.
- Debris or hillside – a rock garden with one slope, where overall stones are closer to the top, and a small stone placer at the base.
- Mountain valley – horizontal composition of a rock garden with boulders, medium and small stones, located in a free manner.
- Terraced slope – a rock garden of this type is organized on a gentle slope in the form of small steps supported by large boulders.
- Forest ravine – such a rock garden is located in a recess similar to a shell, decorated with massive boulders overgrown with moss.
- Rocky wall – This is a rock garden, formed mainly of a flat stone, folded in the form of a low border.
- Separately, I would like to highlight the latest peep of fashion – the rock garden “Czech rolling pin“. We have written a separate article about him – you can read it here.
Sometimes the alpine slide is called rockery. In fact, a rockery differs from a rock garden in the selection of stones – when it is laid, not only rocks are used, but also rounded river boulders or large pebbles.
Choosing a location
When choosing a place to create a rock garden on your land plot, you need to take into account that you are creating an accent designed to decorate your garden, therefore, you need to place an alpine slide in an open space so that it is a site with a good view from all sides. As a rule, an alpine slide is broken in the center or at the edge of the grass lawn. It is best to orient the rock garden to the south or southwest – this way it will be well lit by the sun and get enough heat.
When laying an alpine slide, it is necessary to avoid places adjacent to buildings and in the shade of massive trees, however, shrubs or trees may be present in the background, at some distance, in order to create a background for an effective perception of the rock garden. It is not bad when the rock garden is inscribed in the existing landscape of the land plot, located on a gentle slope or in a ravine, fitting into the natural elevation changes – lowlands and elevations of the site.
Strive to keep the trees and shrubs in the background of the rock garden solid in color. The colorful background will distract from the whole perception of the alpine slide as an accent element of the landscape of the site.
The starting point for creating a rocky slide can be a diagram of a rock garden, drawn to scale, where you will pre-plan the location of stones and planting of plants. If the rock garden is supposed to be located in the depths of the garden, you need to think over the paths and paths leading to it.
It looks spectacular when a rocky winding path or a dry stream of small stones crosses an alpine hill, and nearby there is a shop or grotto with a bench, from where you can admire the result of your landscape creativity.
A rock garden with a pond looks very harmonious, especially if it is a slightly swampy reservoir with characteristic moisture-loving plants planted along the coast. An interesting solution to the design of a pond can be the planting of a large tree or a bush of conifers on a tiny “patch” of land adjacent to the water. This technique will visually expand the boundaries of the site.
A spectacular accent of an alpine slide, combined with a pond, can be a small waterfall falling from an artificial gorge or stone wall.
Step-by-step stages of arranging a rock garden
Preparatory work for bookmarking
Using the previously created plan of the rock garden device, start its bookmarking by marking the selected area – determine the diameter of the slide, its height and the location of large accent stones. The height of the slide is calculated based on the diameter of its base – 1 m of the base is equal to 10-20 cm in height. The height of the rock garden is optimally within 0.5-1.5 meters.
Many people wonder how to make a rock garden resistant to natural processes of destruction under the influence of wind, groundwater and precipitation? It is best to start arranging the rock garden in the fall and carefully prepare the foundation for it. Preparing the soil, preceding the creation of an alpine slide, consists in clearing the site and removing the top layer of soil to a depth of 20-30 cm.
This deepening is necessary for the drainage device – water drainage from the rock garden, for which it is covered with gravel, expanded clay, crushed brick or construction waste to a height of 10 cm. A 5-cm layer of coarse sand is poured from above, then a 15-cm layer of soil, on which, subsequently , stones are laid and plants are planted.
When preparing a site for a rock garden, pay special attention to weeding to get rid of perennial weeds such as wheatgrass, which germinating can destroy the slide from the inside. It is advisable to additionally treat the area for laying the rock garden with herbicides.
Creating a basic composition of stones
A composition of stones is the basis of any rock garden. It is important to select stones of the same type for the entire slide, but of different sizes – several large boulders, stones of medium and small size. Provide flat stones – they will serve as a kind of steps for movement when caring for an alpine slide. You need to start laying stones from the bottom up – from large to small, grouping and distributing them. It would be wrong to lay the stones in a regular way, observing equal distances between them. The stones for the rock garden should be placed randomly, as close as possible to the natural mountain landscape.
When laying an alpine slide, the stones are deepened by 1/2 or 1/3 of their height, and then, additionally, they are covered with fertile soil, which includes sod land, peat, humus and sand in equal parts. After the sinuses between the stones are sprinkled, the earth is rammed and watered with a spray jet so that the soil is not washed out. It is not recommended to plant plants immediately after assembling a composition of stones – the slide should be given time about 2-3 weeks for it to settle down and sag slightly. Best of all, if the slide survives the winter, and in the spring, start planting plants.
Another moment – when you form a composition of stones, periodically move away from the slide at a distance of 3-5 meters in order to assess its harmony and integrity.
Selection and planting of plants
After overwintering, the rock garden is ready for planting in the spring. Usually, these are plants characteristic of the highlands of the Alps. At first, shrubs are planted, then herbaceous plant species, and finally, ground cover “alpians”. Plants for a rock garden must be selected in such a way that the slide looks spectacular at any time of the year, pleasing the eye with the flowering of spring primroses, bright foliage of ground cover flora and evergreen conifers.
To plant a plant in the ground, a hole is dug between the stones, the bottom of which is strengthened with gravel, where the plant is then placed. After planting, the land around is rammed and mulched with fine gravel.
It is important to know that a rock garden made of conifers can become a rather unpretentious landscape design option, when the stone composition is diluted with evergreen shrubs and trees.
How to choose the right stone?
When choosing a stone for a rock garden, you need to pay attention to its size, shape and surface features. Considering that the rock garden imitates a mountain landscape, where the stones are polished by precipitation and winds, have an irregular but natural shape, it is undesirable to use a rounded stone of river origin or stone scrap with sharp edges for an alpine slide.
Limestone or sandstone is a good choice for a rock garden. Dolomite is suitable – sedimentary rock, shale with a layered structure, basalt, travertine, calcareous tuff, light gneiss. A particularly valuable specimen for a rock garden will be a forest boulder overgrown with moss and lichen.
Options for a stone for a rock garden:
- White-green quartz – splinter stone, smoothed in fragments, ranging in size from 20 to 60 centimeters, is mined in the region of Orenburg;
- Milk quartz – a stone with an uneven rough surface from 30 to 70 cm, mined in the Urals;
- Sirpantenite – a stone of silver or green color, 25-45 cm in size, mined in the Caucasus, 15 rubles / kg;
- Elbrus – a gray or beige stone measuring 20-90 cm, 11 rubles / kg;
- “Petrified tree” of oblong quartzite of yellow-beige color with veins, size 20-50 cm, 16 rubles / kg;
- Jasper green and red, size 20-60 cm, 12 rubles / kg;
- Green serpentine – a stone measuring 20-80 cm, 19 rubles / kg;
- Quartz “Raduga” – a yellow-brown stone, 10-70 cm in size, 11 rubles / kg;
- Sandstone is a stone of an arbitrary rounded shape of sand or gray color, with a size of 30-90 cm.
If limestone is used to create a rock garden, then the soil poured between the stones will have an alkaline reaction that is unsuitable for some plants, so the soil will have to be acidified.
Plants for planting in rock gardens
Shade-tolerant alpine plants that are planted on the northern slope of the rock garden:
- Astilba – blooms in July, has small pink flowers, collected in pyramidal inflorescences.
- Badan is a perennial from the saxifrage family with bright green fleshy leaves and raspberry inflorescences.
- Periwinkle is the owner of shiny dark green foliage and blue 5-petal flowers.
- Tenacious is a ground cover plant that grows rapidly under the influence of the sun.
- Fern – looks great at the foot of an alpine slide.
- Primula is a spring primrose.
- Stakhis is an unpretentious plant with bluish fluffy leaves.
- Hosts – grow in the form of rosettes of leaves of various colors – in white, blue, golden veins.
Light-loving alpine plants that are planted on the southern slope of an alpine slide:
- Adonis is a perennial with vibrant flowers.
- Acena – does not lose foliage in winter, and after flowering flowers take the form of needle-like balls of red color.
- Ornamental bow – large leaves combined with long, vertical arrows with a spherical color.
- Iris is a perennial bulbous plant with orchid-like flowers.
- Lavender is an evergreen shrub with a shallow purple color.
- Rejuvenated – small rosettes of fleshy leaves of light green color.
Universal plants for an alpine slide:
- Arabis is a perennial groundcover that blooms in May and late autumn.
- Bellflower – has an abundant color from July to October.
- Crocus is a bulbous plant, a primrose.
- Muscari is a bulbous plant that resembles a hyacinth.
- Mylnyanka – grows in limestone rocks, alpine perennial.
- Sedum (sedum) – rosettes of juicy leaves with a lemon blossom.
- Scylla is a primrose with blue inflorescences.
- Violet is an unpretentious plant that blooms for almost the entire warm season.
- Phlox is a carpet plant with a fine pink color.
Also for growing on an alpine slide, hybrid forms of eyebrows are suitable. Read about this:
Evergreens that harmoniously and naturally complement the rocky ensemble of the alpine slide:
- Norway spruce and spruce;
- Mountain pine;
- Juniper Cossack, rocky or ordinary.
Shrubs that form an intermediate layer between low trees and ground cover crops in a rock garden:
- Russian broom;
- Japanese spirea;
- Red-leaved barberry;
- Horizontal cotoneaster;
Caring for a rock garden involves weeding, removing dried inflorescences and occasional watering. Fertilize the alpine slide with phosphate and potash fertilizers, but not often – only to prepare for winter. To protect them from freezing in winter, the plants are covered with shavings, spruce branches or burlap. When it snows, they constantly support the snow cover on the hill to help the plants overwinter.