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Decorative Stones: Types of Landscaping Rocks

Uses and Benefits of Landscape Rocks
A home with a curved gravel driveway.

Decorative stone and landscaping rocks can be used in almost any area of your yard as an attractive and functional ground cover. They are extremely durable and resist losing color or being scattered by wind and rain. These rocks can help keep soil moist and in place when used as mulch around trees or shrubs. They generally do not attract pests such as termites or ants.

Rocks and gravel can be used for garden pathways and can be a nice alternative to pavement or concrete for a patio or driveway.

Stone comes in a variety of colors and textures and can add an element of character to your landscape.

Stone Coverage Calculation
A man setting large stones into a landscape.

Bagged landscape rocks are used for smaller jobs, such as a decorative accent at the base of a mailbox or for mulch around a shrub. These bags typically contain about 0.5-cubic feet of stone. As a rule of thumb, a single bag will cover 3-square feet with stone 2-inches deep.

A long walkway, driveway and larger landscaping jobs might require bulk landscape rocks. Large quantities are sold by the pallet or by the cubic yard.

There are several factors used to determine the amount of stone needed for an area. In addition to the square footage of the area to cover, you must also consider how deep the coverage will be.

The suggested depth of coverage varies according to the size of the individual stones.

  • If the stone size is 1/2-inch or less, the suggested depth is 2-inches.
  • Stones that are 3/4-inch to 1-inch should have a depth of about 3-inches.
  • Stones that are 1-inch or larger should have a depth of 4-inches.

The coverage area of a cubic yard (27-cubic feet) of decorative stone or landscaping rocks depends on the depth of the area. Consider this when measuring for and purchasing decorative stone.

Follow this guideline for how much area one cubic yard of stone will cover:

  • 160 sq. ft. at 2-inch depth
  • 108 sq. ft at 3-inch depth
  • 80 sq. ft. at 4-inch depth
  • 54 sq. ft. at 6-inch depth
Decorative river rocks surrounding a blue garden urn on a bed of small stone gravel.
  • Smaller stones may shift more in heavy rain.
  • Rocks used as mulch tend to retain heat. This can reflect back onto the plants, causing them to dry out.
Types of Decorative Stone
A set of garden furniture on an outdoor gravel surface.

Choose from brick chips, crushed gravel, lava rock, river rock and marble to create pathways, mulch for garden beds, driveways and more. These popular types of landscaping rocks are widely available.

The region you live in may determine what types of stone are available and can affect shipping costs.

Brick Chips
Brick chips spread on the ground.

Brick chips are made from crushed, angular fragments of brick.

  • Terra cotta color with deep reds and browns
  • Sizes range from to 3/4-inch to 1-1/4-inches
  • Used as mulch or as driveway stone
Crushed Gravel
Crushed gravel spread on the ground.

Crushed gravel is usually gray and composed of sharp, irregularly shaped rock fragments.

  • Rocks easily interlock and provide good packing 
  • Size ranges from 1/4- to 3/4-inches 
  • Used for roads, driveways, base rock and pathways
Lava Rock
Lava rock spread on the ground.

Lava rock is porous, light and irregularly shaped.

  • Available in red or black hues 
  • Generally offers good drainage and packs down well 
  • Usually ranges in size from 3/4-inch to 1-1/4-inches 
  • Used in driveways, gardens and along paths and walkways
River Rock
River rock spread on the ground.

River rock is round and smooth and is available in shades of gray or brown. Pea gravel is a smaller size of river rock used in decorative concrete and other applications.

  • Provides good drainage and erosion control
  • Sizes range from 3/8-inch to 2-1/2-inches 
  • Used in flower and garden beds, and on walkways for erosion control
Marble chips spread on the ground.

Marble chips are made from fragments of marble.

  • Used in fountains and to cover soil in houseplants and container gardens 
  • Stone sizes range from 1/4- to 1/2-inch
  • Should not be used around plants that require high levels of acid, as it will change the pH of the soil 
Seasonal Decorative Stone
People painting small rocks for decoration.

The varying colors of decorative stone make them ideal for creating patterns in your landscape to celebrate holidays and other seasonal events. 

Painting rocks is a trend in landscape decor that you can use. Apply acrylic or glow paint to smooth river stones and place them in your gravel beds or use as accent pieces around your garden stones. Small rocks can even be painted to add a flash of color to planters.

Shop online when you’re looking for landscape rocks. The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.