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Garden Rock Not Just for Decoration

Aug 29, 2016 02:51PM ● By Troy McGregor

Incorporating stone in your succulent garden can provide many benefits. Boulders, for instance, have many applications. They can be used individually as a focal point, a platform for yard art (no plastic flamingos please), or even a seat for you or your local lizard population. When used in clusters of varying sizes, a wall or natural formation can be created to showcase your succulents in a more vertical plane, as opposed to the traditional horizontal plane. Adding boulders in groups also allows the gardener to build berms for superior drainage, enhancing the visual appeal of the plantings and making for happier and healthier plants. One of the major benefits of using boulders is their ability to regulate microclimates in their immediate vicinity. Boulders and large stones absorb heat during the day and slowly release it during the evening. This is especially helpful during the winter months, when frost proves problematic for succulents such as Echeveria and Aeonium. The gaps between stones and boulders allow roots to stay cool, preventing stress and ensuring happy plants.

Smaller stones also make for great mulch in the succulent garden. Often referred to as “top dressing,” decorative pebbles are used to cover exposed soil and are tucked up under succulents whose leaves come into contact with the soil. Avoid using pebbles with smooth rounded shapes as they can roll off the berm and create a nuisance. Instead, look for varieties with irregular and angular edges, as they will stay in place.

Why not just use bark as mulch? Bark absorbs and retains moisture much better than pebbles. This is great for a garden of perennials, shrubs, and trees, but it is a problem for succulents, as they prefer good, dry airflow around their stems and lower leaves.

For inspiration, plants, and design assistance, visit the Ruth Bancroft Garden and Nursery. We’ll be happy to help you succeed.


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