Types of landscaping rock

Natural stones are one of the most versatile elements available for any landscape makeover. Not only do landscaping rocks add texture and contrast, but they can be used in numerous ways to improve on the overall function and appearance of any yard by adding structure, contrast and serving as durable groundcover without requiring much maintenance from the get-go.

There is no limit as to the variety of ways homeowners can utilize landscaping rocks within their design plans. Before going forth with purchasing the various landscape materials that will be used, there is a need to fully understand the types of landscaping rock available on the market. When it comes to versatility and landscaping with rocks and gravel, exactly how the materials are used is vital for the best possible results, as the rocks that are chosen will ultimately help set the tone for the remainder of your garden or yard.

Stones will last indefinitely, so it is important to choose a look that will make you happy for many years to come. From river rock or flagstone to beach pebbles and landscape boulders, now’s the chance to research the many options available to you.

Pea Gravel

This small type of landscaping gravel often goes by several different names including gravel, beach pebbles, or simply river pebbles. Regardless of the terminology used, they are composed of fine-grained rocks that have been worn smooth over time by wind and water, providing a truly versatile style that provides an attractive finish to many landscaping applications.

Pea gravel comes in a wide variety of colors. Due to its small size, pea gravel is generally used as a ground covering or as a mulch replacement medium, especially in more confined areas. Borders can be used to keep pea gravel in place and to hinder it from being washed away by other elements. These rocks are also just light enough to be used around all plants or florals and are typically very forgiving on bare feet.

River Rock

Along with small beach pebbles, river rocks add warmth to any yard. Known as the big brother to pea gravel, river rocks are generally smoother in texture but larger in size. They also have more distinction in color overall and sometimes even come in a darker, marble-like finish.

For the most part, river rocks are a great replacement for mulch in larger, more visible beds, as their size varies– though if compared to beach pebbles, are not as friendly on the feet. Their natural hues, however, can truly accent otherwise bare areas, especially if offset by decorative plants or when used as a type of border.

Lava Rock

For a more minimalist landscape or Polynesian-themed garden, try lava rock, which as the name suggests, is composed of lava from volcanoes-- just broken down into smaller pieces. It comes in a variety of sizes, boasting bold colors and a naturally porous surface, making it perfect for accenting any landscape design.

It’s no wonder why lava rock has become extremely popular in drier climate areas within the Southwest, such as Colorado, Arizona, or Nevada. If used correctly, lava rock often proves to be an all-around perfect coloring tool to sprinkle excitement and dimension into any outdoor space.


Unlike most other types of rock, flagstone is not a replacement for mulch, as it comes in much larger pieces of flat stone that are typically available in a gray or a natural, earthy color. They are typically used as stepping stones to build a pathway, perfectly serving as a replacement to unsightly, concrete sidewalks. They are also extremely attractive to use for well-traveled pathways throughout the yard so grass does not get worn out.

Easy to install and maintain, flagstone provides for a beautiful, natural look and continues to be widely used in a variety of landscaping and building projects.

Landscape Boulders

Most often used as visual “anchor points” within the overall landscape design, decorative landscape boulders make for good center focal pieces in any yard. Instead of using a tree or large shrub under a living room window – try opting for a decorative boulder, as they are not only interesting to look at, but easy to maintain. It is quite simple to design a rock garden or an array of plants around them. Landscape boulders are also perfect for the corners of a pool enclosure.

Remember that boulders are large, heavy and not easily movable, so it is always important to have a bit of vision before selecting a decorative boulder for use in your yard.

Start Your Backyard Redesign Here!

It is always important to compare advantages and disadvantages when choosing building materials for any landscape design. Contact Pioneer Sand today for a variety of landscaping services that you may need or to discuss any outdoor living concerns with our experienced team of professionals.