Building a Rock Garden - Rock Your World
by Sue Leduc
You've now picked the perfect spot for your rock garden.
It's been laid out, mocked up and sketched, and now you're ready to
start building. Bring on the rocks.
I really wish I could simply pick up the phone, call
the nearest quarry and say, "Bring me a load of pretty rocks,
please," but that's not how it works. One rock is not just like
another and choosing your rocks well can make the difference between
a rock garden that looks (relatively) natural and one that looks completely
rocks you choose should have some common characteristic so that they
look like they would naturally occur together. Our rock garden is
built with rocks that were dug up by the original settlers when they
cleared the land. Most were collected from within 1 km of our house
so they can't help but look like they belong together. Mother Nature
herself put these rocks here.
It's not that easy if you live in the city or the suburbs.
You have to look at the rocks and choose a ‘formation' that
appeals to you. Geologically, the Ottawa area has some very diverse
choices. Because we're at the edge of the Canadian Shield, we have
granite. But the Champlain Sea also once covered this area, so we
have limestone and a variety of sedimentary formations. And of course,
we had glaciers that mixed them all up and left a hodgepodge on the
surface. Now is the time to make friends with the staff at your local
quarry or perhaps a local landowner.
the easiest way to make sure your rocks are all relatively the same
is to go to the quarry and order a load from the specific formation
that you like. It will be scooped up by some enormous earth-moving
machine, giving you a variety of sizes of rocks, loaded into a truck
and delivered to your house. Now you just have to move them out of
your driveway before the neighbours start to complain.
Another option is to go to a landscaping firm or garden
centre that has decorative rocks for sale. This is not an inexpensive
way to go, as you pay by the pound, but the rocks are pre-selected
to match one another well and are usually a fairly uniform size.
you want more control in the choice of your rocks and money is an
object, the best option is to actually go and pick through rock piles.
Most farmers' fields in the Ottawa area have plenty of these. Some
quarries may also have piles of rocks set aside for landscapers that
you could be allowed to root through. This way you can be sure that
the rocks are not just of the right appearance, but that they are
also a size that you can handle. Keep in mind that you will need rocks
of all sizes - big ones as anchors, medium ones for infill and small
ones for decoration.
rooting through a rock pile, there is a certain etiquette and a set
of safety rules to follow. ALWAYS obtain the landowner's permission
to go onto their property - trespassing is bad. ALWAYS close gates
after you go through them - escaped livestock is not funny. If you
pick up and then reject a rock, toss it back on the pile, don't just
fling it to the side. Wear solid boots and gloves - rocks are heavy
and abrasive. Keep an eye on your vehicle's suspension - overloading
can make driving difficult. Line your trunk with a blanket or tarp
to make clean-up easier. Lift with your legs, not your back.
It will take several tonnes of rock to make even a small
rock garden. Try not to set your sights too high for the first year.
Your rock garden can be expanded and improved over several years.
1 2 3