A rock garden is often thought of as a bank covered in rocks in imitation of a rocky hillside. That is not the type of rock garden this article is about. The instructions given here are how to build a small circular feature that is suitable for anyone who is short of space but would like to add extra interest to their garden. I found this article by David Beaulieu over on the landscaping section of the About.com website.

Some homeowners design rock gardens to exploit rocky slopes in their yards. Others, like me, import rocks into yards that are flat and rockless; we need stronger backs, but the effort is well worth it.
Another consideration that can influence the design of rock gardens is space. I am allotting but a small space for my rock garden. In larger spaces, the goal is often to create sprawling, naturalistic rock gardens.
But given my space restrictions, I’m contenting myself with what amounts to a round raised bed made of select rocks. This design fits neatly into the nook I have chosen for it. My small rock garden won’t be in the way when I mow my lawn, nor will it require much maintenance.
Yet a third design consideration is color. I have a collection of attractive red sandstone pieces; they will provide the structure for my rock garden. In turn, this choice will influence my plant selection. I want a color scheme that will work well with the red sandstone. I would like some plants with a hint of red in them, but also some plants displaying silver, yellow and white.
The sandstone with which I’m working is hardly the most durable of materials. Indeed, many of the pieces are crumbly, well on their way to becoming soil! But beauty was my goal, not longevity.
Rock gardens normally achieve some elevation above the surrounding ground. In this case, that means laying a first course of rocks and soil, then building upon it.

In Step 2 I lay the first course….

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The First Course of the Raised-Bed Rock Garden

The base of the rock garden: a circle of stones filled with soil. Photo Credit: David Beaulieu
For this rock-garden project, I’m claiming a patch of ground covered with grass. I could dig up the grass before beginning but decided on an easier way: laying down a layer of newspapers and shoveling dirt on top of them to hold them down.
The layer of newspapers will eventually smother the grass, which will then begin to decompose. But even before decomposition takes place, I’ve accomplished my first task for the current project: furnishing a clean slate upon which to work.

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