“Gardens” and “rocks” are as intrinsically entwined as ‘ponds and lillies’, and ‘cats and dogs’. And while every yard doesn’t have, nor need, garden rocks they certainly never look out of place in the garden setting.

More than just not trying to look obscure, garden rocks bring qualities to our landscapes that …well…could only be done by something so hard and rock shaped. Their size, mass, shape, colour and texture can add a whole new dimension to even the most beautiful garden. And they won’t get lost trying to do so.

Yet, introducing rocks into your garden can often be an expensive exercise. Landscaping retailers don’t usually give this precious resource away for free but there are some avenues that might. Here are some great places to start looking;

  1. Classifieds – Quite often people are prepared to offload surplus garden rocks. Sometimes this is from oversupply or it could be that they just aren’t desired in the garden anymore. Whatever the reason these rocks are usually listed as ‘Free to a good home’ provided you are willing to come and pick them up. You may not always get what you want but, as they’re free, beggars can’t be choosers.
  2. Farms – If you live in a rural setting, then finding farmers who want to offload rocks shouldn’t be an arduous task. Most farmers will have even piled up their garden rocks – making it easier for rock hunters – so that they can till their soil and plant produce.
    For us, we can drive north and get limestone, drive south and choose granite and head east to score gravel rocks. And farmers are usually only to happy to offer you this resource for free.
  3. Old Mines – This also depends on your location, but if you live near some abandoned mines or quarries then sourcing garden rocks freely is quite easy. The only sticking point with mine tailings is perhaps the residue left on the rocks from chemicals used in the mining process. It’s probably best to do some research before heading off for the day and returning with contaminated rocks.
  4. Inner city developments – Inner-city dwellers also have access to garden rocks which can come primarily from new buildings. Whenever a new skyscraper is built it requires generous footings to be dug into the bedrock. This rock is then usually shipped offsite and deposited elsewhere. You may not be able to access the rock from within the development but a conversation with the foreman could direct to you to where they’re being taken. Or, you could stalk one of the trucks departing from the building site.
  5. Demolished or renovated gardens – gardens, usually owned by non-gardeners, are often dismantled, renovated or just plain removed leaving a host of resources – including garden rocks – for the picking. If you offer to take them away they will most likely accept so that they can save on refuse fees.

While I’ve listed a few places you can easily source rocks for your garden, there are some places that are off limits without certain permissions.

  1. Rivers and Beaches – while you may only need a few rocks and see a boundless quantity before you it becomes a problem when everyone has the same opinion. Taking rocks from an environment that depends on them can be extremely detrimental. These rocks have a place in their eco-system and hold back erosion and many other problems that arise when they’re missing.
  2. Your Neighbour’s Garden – As tempting as this may be, taking garden rocks from next door – unless granted permission – could strain your relationship, especially as it won’t be hard to track down who the culprit was.

Even if you can’t source garden rocks for free, there are many other options for getting them cheaply. Salvage and demolition yards, completed housing projects and landscape seconds may also prove to be fruitful.