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How to Build a Rockery??

(10 Posts)
suedonim Tue 02-Aug-05 19:47:24

I've decided it would be a good idea to make a rockery under a tree in our garden but I don't know how you go about it! Do you put the soil in first then plonk the rocks onto it or do you build up a pile of rocks and then cover it with soil? What's the best/cheapest place to get rocks? They charge 1.99 per stone, between 6 and 9inches diameter, in our local garden centre - is that good, bad or indifferent?

Mirage Tue 02-Aug-05 21:27:01

Suedonim,what type of plants were you thinking of putting in the rockery?I only ask because most rockery plants are alpine types & grow on mountainsides in the wild.They hate shade & wet,so won't thrive under a tree.The leaves dropping every autumn also tend to kill alpines off.

When I built rockeries at college,we made them almost in layers,ie starting with a layer of rocks,adding a layer of soil ect.We were told that this avoids the 'plum pudding effect' caused when you heap up a pile of soil & stick rocks into it.

I can't help about the cost of rocks I'm afraid,but it might be worth checking B&Q online ect to see what the DIY stores charge.

suedonim Tue 02-Aug-05 21:46:56

Oh dear, so not a good thing to have a rockery beneath a tree! Tbh, I hadn't really considered what I would plant. What else could I do under a tree? I've put some plants in this year, hydrangea and some perennials but I think the tree (a sycamore about 15/20ft tall) is draining the soil of any goodness as they haven't grown. It was previously grass beneath the tree, which had a lot of wild brackeny stuff coming through it.

Mirage Tue 02-Aug-05 23:13:33

I'll have a think & consult my books.How wide is the canopy of the tree?I'd imagine it is quite wide if it is 15-20ft tall?

What about one of those circular seats that goes around the base of the trunk?

I'll go & unearth my plant encyclopedias & get back to you asap.

assumedname Tue 02-Aug-05 23:19:06

What about a fernery or a grotto type effect with a water feature. Shade would suit a lot of ferns.

jayzmummy Tue 02-Aug-05 23:21:58

Suedonim. Where abouts are you?
We have 4 ton of garden rocks sat here in our garden and they are free to a good home. They are perfect for making rockeries/stone walls etc.

bobs Tue 02-Aug-05 23:53:08

I agree - a rockery under a tree not a good idea!
Ferns (those that don't need it too damp, Hostas Vinca (periwinkle)Hebes, Euonymus, Symphytum, Campanula (portenschlagiana or posharskyana - had to look the exact spelling ) - blue flowers in summer and good low ground cover. Or lysimachia nummularia aurea - bright greeny-yellow foliage and yellow flowers, also low ground cover but can get everywhere. Hydrangeas, Azaleas etc if acid soil.
I'm only a mine of information on shade as so much of my garden is under enormous trees and am forever trying out plants for more colour (I have a chrysanthemum bush just coming back into flower in dry shade).
I think there is an RHS website where you can plug "dry shade" in and get suggestions.
Good luck!

ilovehorses Wed 03-Aug-05 00:06:05

depends if the tree casts a full shade on the potential rockery, in which case could it not be on the edge as losts of rockery plants are sunlovers.

OMG that is what we have in our garden a sycamore and indeed I made a flower bed and planted amongst other things;

a Corylus (Hazel), impatiens around the Hazel as shade loving, a few hostas, a fern, a couple of fuschias, forget me nots, a Hydrangea too, a Euononymus japonica (is thriving) and blubells for the spring. You can do a lot with shade, even Skimmias (although acid loving, can be put into a pot and planted under soil to save the soil being wrong for this plant) can go into shade, Hellebores and polyanthus too! You have a lot to plant here!

Milliways Wed 03-Aug-05 20:08:38

We have built a rockery under a tree. Our other one is what used to be the rubble from an extension! Both areas have been covered with purple slate chippings & bought 2 crates of rocks from a landscape centre. The tree in question is a huge ash, and the canopy is high enough for sun to still get on the rockery. That one has mainly heathers & mini conifers. Our large rockery has 2 small trees growing out of it so half is shady & half sun baked. The sunbaked side has loads of self seeding alpines & geraniums. The dhady side has ornamental thistles, bluebells & a whole host of border plants all doing nicely on neglect. My favourite rockery has 3' high rocks and ornamental grasses.

We just picked areas that were a mess anyway & covered them with slate & rocks! It worked for us.

suedonim Thu 04-Aug-05 20:37:38

Sorry not to get back to you earlier - was out until late yesterday and going on holiday tomorrow!

The tree is probably about 20ft across (not good at estimating!) It's in a corner of the garden, facing NE but gets a lot of sun as it's an open plot. I think I might try hostas and some of the other things suggested. I haven't always been a fan of hostas but now they have better varities I can be converted!

Jayzmummy, we're in Scotland. Where did you get four tons of rocks and why are they in your garden??? I mentioned my idea to a friend here and she says (if I still want a rock garden)I can have some of the many rocks from their garden, which is mostly an uncultivated 5 acre field.

Thanks for all the ideas, everyone.

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