Instantly Transform Your Yard with River Rock Landscaping

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River rock landscaping is one of the best ways to give your space a more natural look and feel. Featuring more than 50 shades of browns, beiges and grays, river rocks can instantly transform a dull residential landscape into a beautiful oasis (at home). It can also increase the value of your home.

Plus, there are so many ways to incorporate them — from small courtyards to large gardens and front yard river rock landscaping.  There are also plenty of ways to style this texture material. All you need is a little bit of creativity and plenty of patience.

What are River Rocks?

River rocks are rock types that have been rounded, semi-polished and smoothed out by moving water. These rocks can be found on riverbeds, streambeds and beaches. They are also available in a variety of colors and shapes. In most cases, these rocks measure an inch or two in diameter.

From adding texture to walkways to controlling erosion and doubling as mulch for your landscape, water-polished rocks will do wonders for your space. On top of that, they won’t need much maintenance since they are easy to care for.

How is River Rock Installed?

River rock installations vary from one property to another. Many homeowners prefer a DIY approach to their river rock landscapes, while others require the help of professionals. Either way, there are specific guidelines to be followed for every landscape project.

In some cases, you (or a professional) might need to use landscape fabric under the rocks to control the weeds and keep the stones from embedding in the soil. If you are spreading river rocks around your plants, work slowly. Lay down rocks by the handful and spread them around your greens.

How Much Do River Rocks Cost?

Like any landscaping project, budget is an important aspect of the process.

According to Home Advisor, the typical price range of landscaping river rocks is $460 to $ 1,000. On average, they cost $40 to $100 per cubic yard or $50 to $130 per ton. The price for installation might cost you $600, but some owners find themselves spending

less than $300 or more than $2,000 — depending on the type of stones used, the size of the project and more.

How To Make Use of River Rocks for Your Landscape

river rock landscaping
Level up your home with some river rock landscaping. (Photo from Pinterest)

So, how does landscaping with river rocks work? Consider the following tips.

Build a Walking Path

Start with the basic application: using river rocks to create an elegant walking path. You’ll end up with a smooth path texture made up of small, round stones. These stones also give your yard a more natural look compared to if you use other stones. If you’re into ASMR, you’ll also love the clacking and crunch sounds made when you walk on the rocks.

Create Better Drainage

Since round river rocks do not fit snugly together, they cannot create a compact surface. As a result, water easily passes through the stones and ends up in the ground. You’re then left to deal with poor drainage, which contaminates nearby bodies of water (e.g. streams and rivers). The runoff can damage your basement or your home’s overall foundation.

Address the problem with a dry creek bed made from river rocks. A river rock surface combined with asphalt, pavers or concrete offers better drainage since they don’t allow water to drain into the ground underneath.

Mulch Your Garden Beds

For an added dose of texture, mulch your flower beds with river rocks. River rock mulch offers a variety of sizes and colors to make your plants stand out in the landscape. It also keeps weeds from growing your garden.

Rock mulch is also better than organic mulches (e.g. shredded barks or wooded chips). The latter requires routine replacement. So, if you’re mulching with a tight budget, it’s best to work with a more permanent option — river rock mulch.

If you are going to use river rocks for mulch, don’t forget to add a layer of landscape fabric underneath. If you have to remove the rocks, the fabric makes the removal process easier. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with sinking rocks.

Control Erosion

If you’ve been struggling with soil erosion, river rock landscaping is the ultimate solution. These rocks keep your plants and soils in place, which is handy if these plants and soils are located on a steep hill or in places with heavy runoff.

If your outdoor area has access to naturally flowing water, prevent erosion by installing river rocks around the creek’s edges.

Make a Rock Garden

Rock gardens need boulders and/or pebbles, but here’s an idea: river rocks as a base. This ensures your succulents will visually pop out of your landscape. A rock garden design also provides different colors and sizes of river rocks.

Accentuate Your Fire Pit

If you want to create a more rustic appeal to your outdoor area, install river rocks around your fire pit. The fire pit and river rocks will give your backyard more “camp vibes.” You’ll also love the stone accents.

Beautiful River Rock Landscaping Ideas

Need more ideas to spruce up your outdoor area with river rocks? Here are some!

Combine Colorful Flowers in a Rock Garden

Drought-tolerant gardening might lead you to the creation of a rock garden, which is a good thing. River rocks are beautiful additions to your garden since they provide a tactile and interesting backdrop for leafy foliage and colorful flowers.

Line Ponds in a Japanese-Style Scheme

Since river rocks are naturally found in bodies of water, adding them to the edge of a pond makes sense. Doing so will recreate the natural landscape of your yard. River rocks can also hide eyesores like unsightly pond liners.

This technique works well, especially if you’re planning to build a small Japanese garden. Pair your river rocks with small acers, a small bridge and some stepping stones for your piece of heaven on earth.

Achieve a Dramatic Impact with Contrasting Colors

Pebbles look great against lush green shrubs and red-colored acers due to the fantastic contrast in hues. If you want to add a modern and bold touch to your space, place dark gray and black pebbles along the lime-green foliage.


River rocks are wonderful additions to any landscape. So, if you want some pizzazz to your area, consider river rock landscaping.


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