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Dry Rock Beds

Dry rock beds are a decorative outdoor landscape feature. This outside project has a duel purpose. Dry stone beds provide a solution to drainage problems, and also creates a wonderful accent to your landscape area. If you are thinking about this type of feature, decide if you need this feature to redirect water from one area of your yard to another.

Herbee Shares A Few Questions To Think About

  • Do you have existing natural stones on your property? Do you have different sizes?

  • Could you create a bed out of these rocks?

  • How long and wide do you need or want the area to be?

  • If you decide on a decorative bed, and don't have any materials, where could you get the different size stones?

  • Do you hire a landscaper or do this outdoor project yourself? What is involved in preparation and installing?

Decorative Dry Rock Bed
Dry Rock Bed

Here are two different types of dry stone beds. The first photo is a decorative bed, created by purchasing stones from a specialized suppler. The second picture was done with on one of my client's property. He had drainage problems and a bed was installed to help the water flow from the front of his property down the side, and towards a lake. The two beds are prepared the same way.

If you plan to buy stones, either measure your area and bring the measurements to a suppler, or have a professional measure it for you.

Questions From Our Readers

Measuring for river rock

I want to cover 4500 square feet with 1-2 inch stone, how many tons do I need?

Hi, Herbee here.
You will need about 58 tons of stones, or around 45 yards. This is if you are covering between one and two inches thick. I am not sure where you are located, but in my geographic location, the cost would be around $4,000. You also have the option of going online and type the keywords gravel estimators. You may be able to get a more accurate cost for your own area.


How do you purchase the right amount of decorative river rock for bordering?

Hi, Your main goal is to measure the length of the border and also how wide you would like the border. I am not sure if you have a flat surface or have edging that you will have to put a little more stones in. I recommend to put it down at least two to three inches in depth. There are many styles of river rock. Depending how much you need will determine if you can purchase the it in bags or in bulk.

Nurseries, garden centers, and specialty decorative stone businesses can help you with how much you need. If the area you are bordering isn't long, you can probably purchase what you need in bags.

Stones are usually delivered in pallets, are very heavy, and are unloaded with a fork lift. Some stone is delivered in dump trucks if it's a rugged stone with no concern of breakage. Know how it's being delivered. You will want to plan the project keeping this factor in mind. Make sure you have an open area for placing pallets or dumping, so the driver can get the stones as close as he can to where you will be working.

Here are some materials you will need along with techniques on how to proceed.

Materials and equipment include stones, (large and small) rake, wheelbarrow, shovel, pick ax or mattock, tape measure, string, stakes and a tamper. The tamper is optional but I highly recommend so you can pack loose dirt in your bed.

Measure out the area. You can make a dry stone bed any size. Usually a one to three foot width will work. Your length will depend on what your purpose of this project is. When doing a bed for a drainage problem you will have to make sure you start the bed at the point where the water begins to flow. Put stakes on the four corners. Tie the string to two of the stakes at one end and bring the string down to the other two stakes. Make sure the string is taunt.

Dig out your bed. You don't have to dig real deep. Go anywhere from two to four inches. Budget is so important these days, and understanding each landscape project and prepping properly will allow you to make a sound investment for today and the future.

Once you have dug the bed out, rake it down as smoothly as you can. Take the tamper and pack it all over.

Use the large stones and border either side of the bed. Do a single layer or you can lay a couple of stones side by side. The smaller stones are place down the bed about 2 to three inches thick. You can buy these rocks at a specialty store, or many nursery and garden centers carry them.

One word of caution, if you are doing a decorative bed, look at where you are planning on installing it. Try not to put it next to large trees. When fall arrives your bed will become overwhelmed with leaves. Not a pretty sight and a lot more work for you.

This technique is actually very simple. The length of time spent on this landscape feature will of course depend on how long and wide the area will be. The drainage dry stone bed you see in the second picture took about three days. The first photo shows a smaller bed and was completed in about three to four hours.

It will take you longer collecting existing stones from your yard. Gathering and transporting the rocks in a wheel barrow to the proper place is a bit time consuming, but well worth it in the dollars you will be saving.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In.

Flower Bed Ideas --- Evergreen Plants

Deciduous Plants --- More Outdoor Projects Besides A Dry Rock Bed



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