Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rock shopping…

As mentioned I’ve been thinking about adding a few large rocks to my front garden design. This is a big step for me and research is needed, shopping research that is (the best kind). Off I go to Oregon Decorative Rock, just a couple of miles from home. Shopping tip for locals…this is a great place to get a bag of gravel to mulch the top of a new container… perfect for keeping wet soil away from the neck of a succulent! But bags of gravel are not what I’m after today…I’m looking at the big rocks! But you know what? They’re expensive…take this ‘Oregon Cascade Moss Rock,’ 21ȼ a pound doesn’t sound expensive but the when asked to estimate the weight of the nice rock in the upper left hand corner the (always) helpful “rock-man” said at least 100 lbs, that’s $21 for one rock! Plus at 100 lbs I wasn’t just going to toss it in the back of my car either was I? Moving on…how about some Tuff Stone? More expensive per pound, but ½ the weight…interesting. I like this one; it’s got good green character. Extra large River Boulders… They would certainly go with the gravel in the front garden, which is this 3/4”-1/4” round… But I just don’t care for their look. Nor do I like the Feather Rock… For some strange reason their texture makes me think of stone washed jeans. You know, from the ‘80’s. Not a good memory. The Basalt Boulders were nice, but I’d need a crane to lift them into place…a little more machinery (and cash) than I want to deal with. Red Rock, (it’s even better if you say it like Danny said “RedRum…RedRum…RedRum” in The Shining, go ahead and try it). RedRock...RedRock...RedRock... Yuck. I will not be using Red Rock.

Gray Lava Moss Rock… Like the moss, not so much the Lava Rock Swiss-cheese look, wouldn’t look right with the existing gravel.

Basalt Wall Rock… I like the price! About ½ of what the Oregon Cascade Moss Rocks were going for. But there’s no moss. Do I need moss? Wait, who needs moss when your rocks are already colorful? Aztec Mist Turquoise. No thanks.

So…did I make any decisions? No. I think I’m leaning toward the Basalt Wall Rock. Its price is the best, and for my issue of blending the gravel we have with the new bigger rocks they seem to mix in ok style and color-wise. I’m a little hung up on the lack of moss and how clean they look. But then if I look at the big picture the rocks are only there to add texture and define the space a little better, there will be plenty of plants to green things up!

So…what are you all thinking?


  1. Oregon Decorative Rock is not the cheapest place, but is the closest for me as well. If you borrow/own/etc a nice beefy pickup, I would go elsewhere. The 'Couve has tons of cheaper places. If you are throwing rocks in the back of your passenger car, don't go above 25 MPH and get it from Oregon Decorative.

    Its a lot easier than you think to move a heavy rock. They will help you load in. Load out is much easier (gravity!). A beefy hand truck can deal with 200+ pounds no problem. It gets harder the bigger they get, but a fulcrum, lever (iron bar from Harbor Freight) and patience is mostly what you need.

    The bigger the rock the better. So buy as big as possible.

  2. You can grow your own moss on the rocks, don't fret...get the best deal and color you want...

  3. oh I'm loving the Tuff Stone! I wish it was damp enough here for moss sometimes :'(

  4. like Darla said, you can grow your won moss with a little patience. I wouldn't pay extra just for moss, but the basic rock type of the Oregon Cascade Moss Rock gets my vote.

    It's funny that you hate the Aztec Mist Turquoise. Oregon Decorative Rock has another yard in Bearverton near my house. We drive past just about everytime we go anywhere in the car. They have a couple of those Turquoise stacked where they can been seen from the road and I love them. I can't imagine finding a use for them in a natural looking way but I can think of a few more artificial arrangements that would catch my fancy.

  5. hmmmm...I still can't decide how I feel about rock in the garden. On one hand, I think it would definitely add some texture and contrast to all the plants...but I'm not convinced I could use rock without it looking too contrived :-( If I were to choose one, I'd go with the basalt wall rock (would prefer the boulders, but unless I come into a wad of cash mysteriously, it's out of my budget). I do think I read somewhere that it wasn't too hard to grow (and encourage) moss to grow on things.

  6. I suggest taking a trip to Smith Rock on Johnson Creek Blvd. They have a great selection of stone. I send my clients there and/or visit with them to choose stone for their gardens.

  7. Choosing rock for a gravel garden is such a tough job. Get it right it makes the garden. With current prices it is not something you can afford to do again if you change your mind once they arrive.

  8. Word to the wise on rock - strive to use similar boulder rock material that you're using in any accent rock / gravel (or gravel mulch in the desert ls), or it can look way out of place. I bet you can figure out how to bury, set the similar boulders...and then you'll like it!

    Moss...seems that would form there on it's own?

  9. We went to Smith Rock, Inc. on SE Johnson Creek Rd. to pick out rocks for the landscape dudes to muscle into our garden. They had some excellent big basalt rocks, but they were hard to pick between because they were all tumbled together in the rock bays and I couldn't shift them to look all over each rock. Could be worth a look, though.
    ODR looks pretty interesting, with all those mossy options. I'm with Darla: they'll grow moss eventually if the conditions are right but conversely, the existing moss could die if the conditions are wrong, so don't let that sway you.

  10. May I suggest that you take a drive out our way (Hwy 30) and look along the roadsides, beginning just past Linnton? Especially this time of year, with the freeze/thaw phenom having loosened the cliffs, the verges are littered with all sizes of rock. You know I love you, to have shared this secret...just don't take them all.

  11. Maybe the turquoise stuff is egregiously tacky, but hey I like tacky.

    Good advice I got was to go with stone that is the same color as the stones you find in your garden, because the stone will look "right" with your soil. I've found this to be true.

  12. I just love several of the rocks for themselves: the basalt, the huge river boulders and the Aztec Mist Turquoise- to me they are so lovely. Of course it all depends on the design you have in mind...
    Well we were lucky to have lots of large boulders free from excavating for the foundation-of course it cost a few hundred dollars to get a backhoe to move them into position.

  13. Looks like you're getting a lot of good advice, Loree. Did you check the bargain pile? This looks like an awesome place, similar to ones around here but I always check the bargain pile first. :)

  14. sounds like you are between a rock and a hard place.

    (I'm just jealous you can even buy rocks that come with their own moss!)

  15. Does anyone know where to find turquoise slag glass in the Portland area? I've seen it while on garden tours around Portland but have never been able to source it.

  16. I was justing looking through a copy of Thomas Church's ' Gardens are for people'....so many inspiring ideas for BIG rocks in that mid century west coast style. You might take A peek. The Library probably has a copy.

  17. I love ODR and have tons of their stone throughout our garden. The turquoise tacky stuff is fun to stuff into purple planters. I like year-round color. What can I say?

  18. eeldip, convenience does come at a cost doesn't it? We have access to a truck but it's not particularly beefy (a Ford Ranger). Thanks for the 'Couve recommendation.

    Darla, true...around here anything that doesn't move grows moss (at least in the winter).

    Mary C, I love that it disappears for half the year and then all of a sudden one day...it's back!

    Ryan, the few rocks that I do have here (a couple interesting ones we dug up when planting) have never grown a bit of moss on them. I think some rocks just aren't porous enough? As for the Aztec Mist I can see them in a sort of "underwater" planting...with lots of succulents...it could be very cool. Just not what I'm looking for.

    scott, you know what? Me too (not convinced that it wouldn't look contrived). I think what I'll end up doing would underwhelm most rock advocates but since it's my garden I guess I'm the one to make happy.

    Lauren, thank you for the tip! I'll look them up.

    Spiky O, your mentioning changing my mind reminds me that initially when we had the first load of gravel delivered I had selected a few bigger rocks to come with. Then I changed my min and cancelled them. Lucky I did too because they dumped the load in the street (not in the drive like we asked) and a neighbor drove into the pile (she was older and it was dusk). She got high-centered but can you imagine if there had been big rocks in the pile how bad that might have been?

    DD, yes this is my dilemma! I don't want a big contrast...

    MulchMaid, good point on the existing moss dying. The rock guy also mentioned that it can get scratched off moving them into place.

    ricki, ha! Thanks for the love. But...isn't that stealing?

    Hoover, I bet you could make that Aztec Mist look fabulous!

    Nicole, lucky you! (a few hundred dollars is what I'm hoping to avoid).

    Grace, I've never seen a bargain pile there!!! Bummer.

    Laguna...very funny.

    liz, hope someone can help...

    Linda, good tip...and actually I have a copy! I just wish the style of my home "fit" that look.

    Ficurinia, there is nothing wrong with loving year round color!!! Especially when it's so grey here so much of the year.

  19. Nope, not stealing. I actually stopped a state patrolman to ask, and he said as long as one's vehicle is parked well off the road, have at it.

  20. 19.50 a ton for 'cal lite', which is basalt average basketball size in Humboldt County California, just got 13.7 tons delivered for 370.

  21. Just in case you're still pondering rocks 9 years later, all these retail places like ODR charge crazy prices for rock. You can buy basalt wall rock in Vancouver for $65/ton at Pacific Rockery/Cadman. Even cheaper to hop on CL and find a dump truck driver and tell them you want a load of basalt wall rock.

    The retail places are great for buying one or two boulders, but if you're looking for a couple tons or more of the stuff, head directly to the nearest quarry. It's a small fraction of the price.


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