How To Lay River Rock Landscaping

Landscaping around your pool helps it better fit into the landscape of your yard, creating a more pleasing overall look and feel to your pool and garden. Landscaping uses many different elements, including a variety of plants, shrubs and trees (sometimes known as soft landscaping), as well as retaining walls, boulders and rocks (sometimes known as hard landscaping). And you can use river rock to tie them all together beautifully. The best news? It's not difficult to lay river rock landscaping.


River rock is made up of colourful, coin-size rocks worn perfectly smooth on a river bed by the erosion of water. Their smoothness and shades of muted red-brown and blue-gray lets you use them in many different ways in your landscape design.

You can put them in a rock garden because they offer great water retention for plants. They’re also a great pool renovation that gives you decorative drainage around the pool to avoid mud puddles. And they can even be made into walkways.

5 Steps to Lay River Rock Landscaping

Once you determine where you want to lay the river rock, use the following steps for a successful installation.


1. Remove Debris and Growth Down to Bare Dirt - Get rid of grass, weeds, their roots and anything else in the way of having a clean bed of soil.

2. Shape Your Landscape Fabric - Cut a piece of landscape fabric to fit the entire area where you will place the river rock. The fabric provides a weed barrier to reduce the amount of maintenance you’ll need later. If you’re building a rock garden, place your larger plants first, then cut the landscape fabric around them. Cut slits in the fabric where you intend to place smaller plants.

3. Place Your Plants - You need to do your planting before installing the river rock. Plant all plants through the slits you cut, or cut new ones wherever you want to place a plant. Plant according to the instructions for the plant.

4. Install the Border - In most cases, it's much easier to keep your river rock in place by adding a border around it. The border can be larger rocks in a rock garden, pavers on a walkway, or simply rubber garden edging where you don’t want an obvious border.

5. Add the River Rock - Carefully add the river rock by hand to the areas you’ve prepared. Dumping large quantities of rock can damage the bed you’ve prepped and any plants you have. You should add enough river rock so it is two inches deep in all places. 

You’re done! Just sit back and enjoy.


If you like this article, check out our recent post “5 Steps to Building a Backyard Garden Pond”.

Chad Geense