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Uniqueness of Lava Rocks for Landscaping: Pros and Cons

Uniqueness of Lava Rocks for Landscaping: pros and cons

It is not a secret that, like any art, landscape design is based on naturalness and harmony. According to this, the problem of combination of ponds, plants and terrain with stones is very important.

There are three types of lava rock for landscaping: red, black and brown lava rock.


Lava rock could be of different fraction: from dust-like crumbs for mixing with the soil, to 5-10 cm for landscaping needs (mulch, paths). Also, there are huge specimen for decoration.

Short review

Landscape lava rock is formed from magma erupted from a volcano. It can be found in Italy, Japan, Hawaiian, namely in countries with mild and warm climate. Is lava rock good for landscaping? For, sure – yes, by using lava rock for landscaping you can create beautiful decorative paths, rockery or flowerbeds. You should take into consideration the interaction of the rock with the environment.

Advice: use lava rock as mulch to protect the soil against erosion, rainout and weeds.

As for environmental activity, though, lava rock is steadfast to rain, snow, frost and sun heat, it doesn’t need annual maintenance. However, there is one particular lava rock-landscaping problem such as: in the course of time, lava rock can slightly crumble and break, so, periodic renewal of lava rock layer will be a good idea.
Example of using landscape lava rocks
Landscaping with lava rock is a very exciting experience. This rock itself is not dangerous for a human. Instead, lava rock layer in the garden can produce a nice esthetic pleasure.

Be careful: Though the usage of lava rock is save, it can cause a serious problem during lawn moving. Landscaping lava rocks can damage mower blades if pieces end up on your lawn.

Using as mulch, lava rock of large fraction can be a perfect companion for adult trees, bushes and well-grown solitaire plants. Landscaping lava rock of smaller fraction will do with perennial herbs, flowers and shrubs. For example, it will be a perfect composition of barberry, saxifrage, primula and euphorbia above red or black lava rock in form of rock garden (more design ideas for your yard).

Learn more information about landscaping with another types of rocks: for pool, crushed rock, small, large and flat rocks, pebble rocks, white marble, gravel, granite, slate stones, glass landscaping rocks. Also fake and river rock.

Color spectrum

Close view of lava rock for landscapingThere is a wide range of landscaping lava rock colors. For instance, black and brown lava rock can match any flower color as the colors appeared to be “neutral”.

It will be a nice combination with white: lobelia, ageratum or sweet William; with orange: marigold, calendula; with yellow: forsythia, narcissus or leopard’s-bane. Red lava rock could be combined with pink and white flowers: hydrangea, autumn and spring crocus, bergenia and almond.

One can also match red with yellow and orange: California poppy, false sunflower, coneflower, Echinacea. It will be a risky but unusual combination of red lava rock for landscaping with blue or purple flowers, such as: blue-bonnet, lavender, clematis, ageratum or delphinium.

There are many other interesting rocks in different colors, for example: red, blue, gray, brown, green and of course black or white.

Pros and Cons

Lava rock can be used in a garden for various purposes: mulch, paths, ponds, waterfalls, etc. And in this section we will discuss the pros and cons of lava rock landscaping.

Advantages of lava rocks for landscapingPros of using lava rock:

  • retain warmth inside the soil and give the warmth back to the plants at night;
  • protect the soil against erosion, washing-out and weed (find out effective ways of killing unnecessary grass);
  • stabilize the process of evaporation, protect roots of heat exhaustion;
  • lava is lightweight;
  • perfect solution for decorating a garden;
  • steadfast, needs low maintenance during its lifespan.

Cons of using lava rock:

  • can be a problem during lawn moving;
  • difficult and costly to remove;
  • lava rocks for landscaping can wash or blow away if you use it in exposed locations;
  • lava rocks’ sharp edges make the material difficult to work around;
  • they could constitute a menace for small or new born plants since it is difficult to make one’s way through to the surface;
  • lava rock is only suitable for permanent rockeries and flowerbeds with perennial plants. Lava rock make it difficult to plant, transplant or couch plants from seeds or seedlings.
Warning: lava rock on the organic mulch can cause a decomposition of the first since the moisture will evaporate slowly. Such condition may cause the formation if anthills on your flowerbed.
Here you can find more design ideas of rock landscaping:

How to clean?

Now that you know that the lava rock is suitable for landscaping let’s move to another important topic – taking care about this material.

Recommendation: Lava rocks never break down so they do not require replacement. Lava rocks only require infrequent weeding.

Leaves and debris can build up on the rock surface, requiring periodic leaf blowing to remove the debris from the rock surface. So, how to clean lava rock landscaping? Lava rock can be washed with a stream of water without any special chemicals.
How to clean landscaping lava rocks?
Since lava is a rock it will suit the rockery, ponds and waterfall the best. There the rocks will look naturally and harmonic, especially in combination with plants: trees, bushes, perennial and annual flowers.

Learn how to clean rocks properly?


How much lava rock do I need for landscaping? To calculate the number of single large rocks for a rockery one should consider the design of a flowerbed.

The rocks in alpine garden should form layers to produce an effect of released geological material. Mind the size of a rockery, the number and size of plants (when they are adult) and the whole desirable view.


Lava rock is a perfect material to decorate your garden: it is steadfast, doesn’t need annual maintenance, relatively cheap and lightweight. The color of a rock can be a nice complement to flowers and other plants. Lava rock of different fracture perfectly matches waterfalls, rockeries, paths and walkways.

1 comment
  1. dante fiore

    do they use coloring to enhance the color of volcanic rocks?

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