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Our Guide to River Rock Landscaping

You have a lot of materials to select from when designing your landscape; organic materials landscaping,  lava rocks landscaping, River rock landscaping, and many more. Each has various pros and cons, but much of the decision will come down to your personal aesthetic preferences. In this article, we will cover river rock landscaping, the pros and cons of landscaping with river rocks, and how you can buy bulk river rocks to embellish your landscape. By the end of this guide to river rock landscaping, you will have a much better idea if river rock will work for you.

River Rock Landscaping

River rocks are smooth, round stones that come in a variety of colors. Their edges wear away over years of being tumbled by a river’s current. You can find these stones on beaches, on riverbeds, on streambeds, and in other watery places. They can make a great addition to your yard’s water features.

River rock landscaping can help create beautiful landscaping features, but it is not perfect. Review the pros and cons of river rock landscaping before deciding to landscape with river rock.

Pros of River Rock Landscaping 

River Rock Durability

Unlike common alternatives, like organic mulches and plants, river rock does not need to be replaced. River rock landscaping is durable. River rocks are also non-living materials. They will not grow and they will not die and decompose. Once you place it down, it will stay like that for a very long time unless you choose to move the river rock. 


River rocks are not going to catch on fire. If you live somewhere dry and fire-prone river rock landscaping might be a good idea. You can rest easy knowing your river rocks will not catch fire or feed an existing fire. 

Fewer Weeds

All plants need sunlight to grow; even weeds. River rock landscaping can keep weeds away by blocking off the sprout access to sunlight, killing them before they can even sprout higher than the rocks. It is important to note that even though it is harder for weeds to grow under river rocks, they will still grow. Though river rock landscaping can reduce weeds, many weeds will; grow in unfavorable conditions.

Lower Overall Cost

Because river rock landscaping requires very little maintenance and practically never needs to be replaced the annual cost to maintain it will be lower than non-rock alternatives. 

Fewer Bugs

Rotting organic material draws bugs like candy draws children. Any inorganic material will not decay. River rocks are not going to decay and attract more bugs to your yard.

Smooth Feel

In comparison to other rock landscaping materials, river rocks are smooth and a bit larger than similar landscaping rocks. While it will hurt to step on any type of rock, the pointier and more jagged the rock, the more it will hurt. River rocks are smooth. Instead of stepping on tens of jagged points, you will step on one smooth surface. If you want the look of multiple, little stones, but do not want to deal with the possibility of hurting yourself by accidentally stepping on the rock, river rock landscaping could be a good idea.

Cons of River Rock


Rocks can get very hot in the summer heat. While they could be hot to touch, the bigger issue is that they can starve plants of water and upset the surrounding soil. You should keep this in mind when choosing if and which plants to pair with river rock. You will need to water plants more often when utilizing river rock landscaping.

Hot river rock landscaping can increase the temperature of the area around them. If these structures are near your house, they can contribute to increasing the temperature within your home. 

Sinks into the Soil

Over time river rock will sink into the ground. This can make it harder to remove in the future. If you plan to keep your river rock for a long time, this will never need to be an issue, but if you like to change up your yard consider other materials that are easily removed and reorganized.

Projectile Injury

Be careful when mowing your lawn. If you hit a river rock it can fly through the air and hit you or someone else. Be sure to remove river rock from the areas you are mowing and be careful around river rock installations. 

Landscaping with River Rock

Now that you understand the pros and cons of river rock landscaping, you need to decide if you want to move forward with river rock as your material of choice. If you want to do landscaping with river rock, there are many creative and interesting ways to use river rock in your landscaping projects. Here are some ideas to consider.

Rock Garden

A rock garden is a garden planned around rock formations. There are many creative ways to construct a rock garden so you can arrange it to fit your tastes. Use river rock as a base and build from there. Add pebbles, boulders, and suitable plants like succulents. River rock provides the perfect blank canvas for you to construct your dream rock garden. 

Walking Path

River rocks make for a beautiful walking path. A loose stone walking path has a bit of a whimsical yet elegant nature. It looks both natural and neat all at once while offering the sound of clacking stones as you walk.

Use with Water Features or Fire Features

River rock is formed over years by the current of water. It only makes sense to use it in conjunction with your yard’s water features. Add a touch of river rock landscaping around or at the bottom of a shallow pond or fountain.  The little detail will make the water look more natural and add a bit of texture that pulls the display together.

You can also use river rock around your fire pit. The addition of river rock can create a rustic, camping-like feel to any fire pit.

Dry River Bed

Place river rocks to create a dry river bed.  Landscaping with river rock is not only great for aesthetic purposes, but it is also practical. In addition to being beautiful, If your property has drainage problems, a dry river bed can help.

Landscaping Options

While you could create some wonderful river rock landscaping features, it will take you a lot of time, energy, and materials to get it done. Not everyone has the skill to put the vision in their head into action.

The professionals at Arbeen landscaping can help you create the yard of your dreams whether with river rock or not. We offer mulching services using a variety of materials in addition to outdoor living areas and fire features; all of which can include river rock. 

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