Landscaping with river rock can create breathtaking backyards, gardens and patios. We present some of the top river rock landscaping ideas with these 30 photos. All pictured here are landscaping designs that you can actually DIY.
River rock stones often called river pebbles or just pebble stones or natural stone pebbles. Though the word ‘river’ is in the name, the rocks actually come from the ocean beaches, mainly Mexican and Caribbean where they are naturally created. They are tumbled by ocean waves for hundreds of years to become smooth and well rounded stones. They are perfectly suitable for a wide range of uses in residential landscaping.
Landscaping uses for river rock stones are practically unlimited. Here’s just a few: paving, drainage, accent features, mulching, xeriscaping, decorative mosaics. You can use them to build walkways, outdoor gardens, fountains, planters, for edging, borders and flagstone joints and other creative landscaping designs.
The river rocks are chosen for these exterior applications for a reason – they are beautiful and durable. There are other landscape related benefits as well: helping soil retain moisture and protecting it from temperature extremes, preventing erosion in drainage areas, restraining weed growth.
Plus these stones are easy to install: just pour them out on the ground from a bag and spread with a bow rake.
They are ideal as a grass lawn replacement or for rock gardens, pathways, river beds, ponds, water features and around trees. We have used Beach Pebbles (stones ranging in size from 1 in. to 3 in.) as a substitute for mulch along walkways, in the gardens, in fountains, in planters and in creative outdoor landscape designs.
They are commonly sold as black, white, brown or mixed color pebbles. There are also other colors available that let you create beautiful landscaping features.
While the river rock stones sold in Home Depot are good for most projects, for more artsy designs or finest mosaics you would need to obtain pre-selected rocks as a special order. You need high quality pebbles, consistent in color and size.
Drainage is a consideration with most landscape designs. So why not beautify the drainage ditches with river stones? After all, water is responsible for their creation in the first place.
Filling a trench along your house foundation with pebbles creates a ‘drip edge’ that prevents mud from splashing against the walls. Such dripline trench is more than just a drainage solution – it can be made as a decorative landscaping feature by using river rocks.
One of the most popular river rock garden ideas is lawn edging – it’s a simple yet beautiful solution that you can apply yourself. And you get to choose making the edge thick or narrow and the pebble colors.
River rock stones often used to fill in joints between Flagstones when constructing a patio or a walkway. Laid on sand, they solve drainage problems that may occur over large solid surfaces such as flagstones.
River rocks are great for paving. You can use rocks alone for smaller walkways or set them in mortar for more trafficked areas such as driveways. And don’t forget, if you prefer a more artsy look, you can use pre-sorted by size and color rocks to create mosaic patterns on your walkways.
River rocks and water features is a match made in haven. Dry river beds, ponds, fountains, downspout drainage, garden drains and other decorative water features can be made with pebbles. Black color stones would be best as they’ll shine beautifully through the water.
Accent Features and Decorative Mosaics
When landscaping with river rock, it’s very easy to add eye-catching accents to your design. And you can do it in two ways: using different color rocks in different areas and/or incorporating rock mosaics.
For example, Black Mexican Beach Pebbles, with their color hues ranging from grey to charcoal, will create dramatic effects when used in ponds, stream beds and fountains. The highly desired white color rocks can be used in decorative pots and planters, around trees, and even for container gardening. Stark white or black pebble beds can be used to divide your backyard landscaping into visually separate sections.
And if you’re an artistic type, you can go even farther and create mosaics with river rocks. There are some amazing example of this form of art on the web. These mosaics or accent features can be installed anywhere in the garden, front yard or on patio. Build whatever you imagine. Just get the right rocks. To create mosaics, buy pebbles pre-sorted by color and size.
Use Mexican Beach Pebbles and Caribbean Beach Pebbles (available from Home Depot) as a substitute for mulch along walkways and in gardens. Basically, you can use river rock anywhere you would use mulch. The stones help retaining moisture in the soil just as the common mulch does.
Dry-scaping or Xeriscaping is the landscaping with drought tolerant plants, and using decorative river rocks is the perfect option for such projects, as these rocks require minimal upkeep. White or light color rocks would be the best choice as they absorb less heat from the sun.
These 30 photos showcase the best landscaping ideas. We organized them by the type of usage.