Building a rock garden consists of planning, preparing the site, moving the stones, positioning the stones, making a soil mixture and finally choosing appropriate plants. For my rock garden I chose a variety of stones, some purchased, my sister supplied the majority from her country home and I collected the remainder skin diving at a friends cottage. My biggest concern was the task of achieving a natural setting. I became enthralled with the idea of a rockery and hoped the result would be appealing.
After considerable thought the site was prepared. Choose a day when the soil is reasonably dry. Strip off turf and remove weeds. This weed removal is absolutely vital as bindweed, couch, etc. can ruin a rock garden. Dig out the roots and if the site is badly infested you will have to use an appropriate weedkiller. Good drainage is another vital need. With a sloping site in a non-clayey area no extra preparation will be required, but if the subsoil is heavy then a drainage layer will be necessary. In my situation the drainage was not a problem so removing the turf and weeds was the first chore. After removal of part of the grass and weeds one rock was positioned and this particular rock is the cornerstone of the garden. It is close to the sidewalk and buried about two-thirds in the ground. This rock weighs approximately 800 pounds. The reason I chose this stone is twofold, the colour is vibrant and the size and weight means no chance of movement should a passerby decide to step up to the garden. I was thinking in terms of children and how they like to hop up on retaining walls and curbs, so this particular sandstone is a perfect choice. It has a large arch and this is utilized in the area that slopes downward toward the sidewalk. The following pictures illustrate the size of the rock before it was placed in the garden and the exact shape and colour. The rock looks quite different when turned over and buried into the rockery.
After positioning the first large rock it was determined that the other heavy rock weighing approximately 600 pounds be placed in the centre of the garden as a focal point. As you can see most of the grass and weeds have been removed. You will be able to move small stones by simply carrying them either alone or with assistance from a helper. But in a large rockery you will need some stones which weigh appreciably more. One of the best aids is a dolly and crowbars. Some stones are too big and these pose a problem. Best advice I can offer is take your time, remain calm and try to invent ways to move these gigantic rocks. Let me share a little story with you. The rock you are currently viewing created the most difficulty. It fell off the dolly in the centre of the driveway. The drive has a slight incline and it was next to impossible to replace the rock on the dolly. It was suggested I get some chain and this could be attached to the trailer hitch of the car. Unfortunately I had no chain and the car was in the garage. Going to the store was out of the question, as I couldn't back the car out of the driveway. The rock landed dead centre and my vehicle can't fly. You know what they say; necessity is the mother of invention. Some strapping was located and tied around the rock, the other end fastened to the trailer hitch, and then I hopped in the car and gently began to drive when all of a sudden I heard snap. Naturally the strapping flew off the rock and whipped the side of the car. The strapping was secured again and guess what? The rock was finally moving. Inching along for about a foot before the strapping flew into the air. Thankfully that was enough. Passing the incline of the driveway made the task much simpler. The rock was positioned back on the dolly and moved to the desired location. The 800 pound rock (another problem) was moved from the front lawn across the drive to the garden area. When the dolly rolled off the lawn and on to the pavement the wheels flattened and the bottom bent. It is quite an experience moving stones but relief is what I felt after the two huge rocks were positioned.