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Basics of Installing River Rocks: How to Lay and Remove River Rock Landscaping?

Basics of Installing River Rocks: How to Lay and Remove River Rock Landscaping?

Do you like the round smooth shape of the pebbles on sea shore or river bed? Of course you do! They have this natural zen quality, seemingly specially created to bring some tranquility and calmness. When it comes to landscape design there’re multiple possibilities to use the river rock colorful pebbles.

Usually you can buy the river rock in landscaping stores or online, though some people like to collect the stones themselves. If you buy them, they usually come in several different shades: light tan, white, grey, lavender, sand color and deep blue gray.


Short review

How to landscape with river rock? It may seem difficult from the first sight but do not worry, all you need is just imagination and a bunch of river rocks.

Important! If you wish to collect your own rocks check that it is not prohibited in your area!

River rocks can be used to create:

    Preparation stage for installing river rocks

  1. Zen Garden.
  2. Rock garden.
  3. Flower Bed Borders.
  4. Pathway mulch.
  5. Decorative mosaic elements.

Now we will discuss each composition separately. Furthermore, the useful recommendations and advices about installing river rock landscaping will be given below.

Zen Garden

How to landscape with river rocks in order to create this composition? It is a concept for people who love the tranquility and simplicity of the Japanese design.
Traditional Zen Garden with river rocks
You might have seen the miniature versions of it, that is a popular office souvenir or indoors design element. With the River pebbles you can make the full size Zen Garden.
Japanese Zen garden with river rocks landscaping
All you going to need is some pale landscaping sand and contrast color river rocks. Now you can offer your guest to arrange them the way they like and use a rake to make patterns on the sand.

Rock Garden

In the rock garden, the small pebbles can be used to fill up the empty spaces or to create a fake river bed. If you use them in this quality, you should know how to prevent too much grass grow through and allow proper drainage for the planted flowers. I’ll tell you more about it when we talk about using river rock as mulch.

Rock Garden with river rocks
Another thing you should remember is that the rock garden looks the best if it seems to be natural. So don’t mix the rocks that would not meet in real world, like the sandstone from painted desert and river rock.

This articles can be useful for you: pool landscaping with river rocks, and concepts of using river rock in front yard landscaping.

Flower Bed Borders

How to install river rock landscaping in order to create this beautiful composition? Decorating the flower bed with the river rock is simple and doesn’t require any special knowledge, so if you’re doing your first landscaping project with pebbles – just make a cute border around your flowerbeds.
Simple Flower Bed Borders with river rocks
If you wish not only to create a border, but surround the flowers or trees in your garden – you’ll need to be careful not to block the air passing to the ground. Otherwise the roots might rot with the excess of humidity.

Pathway mulch

There are plenty of advantages in use of the small river rock instead of the mulch on your pathways. One of them is that though the pebbles initially will cost more than the wood mulch they don’t have to be replaced every year. So, investing in cheaper option here, might be a false economy.
Pathway mulch with landscape river rocks
If you decided to spread your pebbles on the large area or in places like rock garden you need to know how to organize it correctly. Here’s your step by step instruction:

  1. Remove all the natural growth and debris from the area, this way you’ll spend less time taking care of the unnecessary weeds later.
  2. Take the special landscaping fabric (you can easily buy it in stores) and cut out the piece you need for the area. The point of the fabric is to prevent unwanted vegetation growth. So, if you’re installing the river rock in the rock garden, or flower bed don’t forget to do the cut outs for the flowers you’d like to plant.
  3. Now is the time to plant your flowers .
  4. If you’re doing a decoration with small pebbles, put the pavers on the borders of the area. This way you make sure your small rocks will stay at their place even during the heavy rain.
  5. Carefully spread the rock by handfuls next to the plants, not to damage them and then spread the rest on the landscaping fabric at least in 2in layer.

Decorative mosaic elements

The last but not least in this list is the mosaic with the river rock. This is a very creative task and before attempting it you have to figure out that you have all the needed materials and knowledge. But, the most important is the project itself.
Idea of decorative mosaic from river rocks
How to lay river rock landscaping in order to create the mosaic elements? To hold the rock together you will use the concrete mix, so it’s important to have good idea of what exactly you’re making and have all the rocks needed at hand.
Otherwise you risk the concrete drying out before you make what you wanted and it’s hard to change it after. So, make your drawing, count the amount of rocks, divide them by color and then you can make your art.
Instruction of how to create mosaic from river rocks
If ‘artist’ is not your middle name you can make a design as simple as just pressing the good looking rocks in cement around, for example, extended sidewalk, just keep the damp tissue close to you – to wash of excess of the concrete not to spoil the looks of the final result. There is a picture of how to create a simple mosaic with river rocks:

Removing process

Sometimes people do not like the final result and there is a question: “How to remove river rock from landscaping?”. We strongly recommend you to hire professional for this mission, since it is a very difficult process.

Or you can watch the following video and remove river rocks with the special machine:

Learn how to clean river rock properly.


Those are some of the possible uses of the river rock in the landscape design, but it’s definitely not all of them. The simple shape and large variety of colors make river rock a perfect one for artistic projects.

For the inspiration check what crazy things people do on pin interest or other services. You’ll find out how to make a carpet, zen pyramid, flower pot and plenty other things with pebbles. Good luck!

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