How To Spread River Rock


From softball-size to pea-size, the varying sizes of river rock make for an interesting landscape. Many landscape rocks have a rough texture when they are first excavated, which works for some landscapes, but you may prefer a smoother rock.

River rock helps your plants to retain moisture, which makes them grow better. Follow this guide to spread river rock around your landscape.

Prepare to Spread the Rocks

You will need to gather the following supplies:

  • work gloves
  • tape measure
  • garden hoses, rope, washable chalk spray paint
  • newspapers
  • wide-tooth rake
  • landscape fabric
  • spade
  • sand
  • tamping machine

Determine where you want to lay the river rock. Some common areas to spread rive rock include areas where grass is sparse, flower beds, or gaps in flagstone walkways. Clean around the area, and pull weeds.

 Get measurements of the area in square footage, then make an outline of the area with a garden hose, rope, or  washable chalk spray. Find the square footage by multiplying length times width, then divide by eighty to get the number of rocks you need in tons.

Dig the Trench

A trench ensures the rocks stay in place. Dig a three-inch deep trench around the area, 

Roll the landscape fabric over the bottom of the trench, and cut the strip at the end; overlapping rows by four inches. Landscape fabric serves as a weed barrier, which saves you time pulling weeds later.  

To lay fabric around plants, cut slits around the plant. If you plan to grow plants of a larger size, plant the seeds before you lay the fabric.

Sprinkle a half-inch layer of sand on the fabric, and carefully tamp it with the shovel or rake. The tampered soil provides the rocks a solid surface. Add pavers, such as slate stone or railroad ties, around the trench for a decorative look, if desired. 

Place the Rocks

Transport the rocks to the area in the wheelbarrow, and get someone to help you lift the heavier rocks. Don't transport too many rocks at the same time, or the wheelbarrow will be hard to move.

Lift the rocks out of the wheelbarrow with the spade, and lay them gently in the trench; making a two-inch layer. Combine different colors of rocks or one color around a plant or area of the yard you want to highlight.

Use the rake to even the rocks, and rinse them with a hose to rinse fine sand dust. Don't overwater the plants as the rocks will hold moisture.

Talk to a residential landscaping service for more ideas and advice. 


1 August 2017

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