As the owner of a Garden Landscaping and Maintenance company, I am always looking for new and unusual ideas or indeed ones that seem to be making a comeback. Recently I have noticed an increase in clients, in Sale, Altrincham and Hale, wanting to plant a rockery in their garden. Decorative and relatively low maintenance, rockeries are a great way to display small plants in a shady or sunny part of your garden.
Although rocks have been used in Japanese gardens dating back thousands of years, they really became popular in Victorian times as a way of showing off exotic articles imported from mountainous areas of the world into England. Often they were created by professional landscape architects and can be seen in many Victorian gardens today, including Chatsworth House and Arley Hall.
We cover all of South Manchester including the suburbs of Sale, Timperley, Altrincham, Hale, Bowdon, Cheadle, Heaton, Didsbury, Chorlton, Bramhall, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge amongst others.
Why should you build a rockery?
Rockeries do not require much maintenance and they can fit in the smallest of spaces. Depending on the side the rock faces, different plants can be used creating a varied habitat. For example, sun-loving plants can be placed by the sunny side of the rock whilst plants that thrive in shade can nestle in the north facing side.
Where should you build your rockery?
Try to choose the most open position, away from overhanging trees or tree roots, where plants will receive sun for the greater part of the day. Rockeries can be as big or small as you like so are suitable for any size of garden.
Which rocks are suitable?
Local rocks of different sizes are the best to build a rockery with and these can be found in reclamation yards. Sandstone is a good material to use as it is local and is not too alkaline. However, as some of the rocks will be buried, any type can be used.
How to build your rockery
Begin by weeding the area, followed by adding a stabilising layer of rubble to help with drainage and finally place a landscape fabric over the area to prevent weeds from growing.
When you are ready to build the rockery, begin with the largest rocks, ideally placing them so that they build to a peak, as a mountain would, and face in a variety of directions to give your rockery garden a variety of microclimates. Once you have placed all the larger rocks you can build up the shape using small rocks, adding a layer of topsoil as you go. Once you have your desired shape you can use the smallest rocks to create planting pockets by arranging them in a horseshoe shape which will later contain the compost mix for encouraging plant growth.
Use a compost mix that consists of equal quantities of weed-free topsoil, leaf mould and horticultural grit to fill the planting pockets. Place your plants in position and gently tease out the roots. There are many beautiful alpines and other low growing plants that can be found in garden centres ideal for use in these areas.
The beauty of rockeries is that they continually grow and change, they are relatively low maintenance, they look more natural each year and, it seems, they are coming back in fashion!