This Curb Appeal Rocks

By: Jerry Clifford

Creating your own rock garden in the front yard of your home is one of the least troublesome ways to add appeal to your property - and you can do it yourself! 'Curb appeal' is a phrase that most of us are familiar with these days: the art of ensuring that our homes look good when viewed from the 'curb' is a well known realty sales tip.

However, even if your property is not coming up for sale, it is pleasant to drive home after a hard day's work and see a welcoming and neat house. The front yard is one of the easiest areas to improve and it is also one of the most effective ways to enhance the whole appearance of a property.

When thinking about improving the front yard, many home owners will want the type of yard that will require the minimum of after-care. This is where the rock garden comes in, as once created it will require little, if any, weeding and most rock plants are perennials, so they will re-appear every year without your help.

There are certain 'rules' for building a successful rock garden; contra to what you may think, it is not just as simple as dumping a load of rocks on the front lawn!! There are also myriad designs of rock gardens to choose from before you even start to haul a rock.

One of the easiest rock features to create is one that has a rustic stone bird bath or sun dial in the center and rocks and alpine plants cascading down from it. Other styles can include flat ledges of rock 'wedged' into the grass in layers to give the appearance of a natural outcrop of rock.

Yet another style is to level a layer of gravel over the whole area and to group large and small rocks sporadically in sections. The addition of low lying shrubs close to the rocks, within the sections, will suggest natural 'walkways' in between the clusters of rock. If you already have rocky slopes in your yard, then these can dictate the shape of your design.

A small rock cluster will detract from the plain look of an unadorned front lawn yet it will require almost no upkeep. The rocky outcrop can be positioned either in the center or off to one side of the lawn, and it can be built right onto the grass without the need for digging up the lawn.

These rock clusters are most popularly created as circular in shape, but rocks will also lend themselves to a crescent shape or a teardrop design.

Three considerations to remember are: size of the rocks (not too heavy for your back), the amount of space you have and finally the colors to include in the rock bed. Rocks, as well as plants can provide color, from red sandstone to gray limestone to blue-toned slates. Choose a color scheme, and match the colors of the plants to tone with the rocks.

Once you have selected your spot, and decided upon the shape of the rock garden, cut a template from newspaper, and lay it into place. Stand back and judge whether or not it seems to be a suitable size and place. If you are happy with your choice, you are now ready to build your rock garden; the instructions for this are in 'This Curb Appeal Really Rocks, Part 2.'

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