Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on May 24, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Rocks Are More Common In Minds Than In Yards
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Many people who have watched some of my Southern Gardening segments on TV may believe I have more rocks in my head than they have in their yards. It may be Mississippi's lack of natural stones that makes me have rocks on my brain this week.
While in Israel, our Jewish tour guide concluded a story saying Moses and the Israelites roamed the wilderness for 40 years until they found the only country without water or oil. When it comes to rocks, a similar statement could be made about Mississippi. We have fewer rocks than just about anyone.
Sure, there are a few outcroppings of rock here and there, but basically we are rock poor and our greatest natural resources are timber and farmland.
Since we are so rock poor, we are fortunate that garden centers and stone companies bring them to us from all across the United States. One company I visited in Brandon had limestone from Texas; slate (weathered and quarried) from Pennsylvania; river rock of all sizes from Tennessee; creek brick and sandstone from Oklahoma; and flagstone from Arkansas.
These rocks sell by the ton, by the pound, and by the square foot. Depending on the type of rock you need, they may sell from $120 to $250 per ton. Smaller quantities may sell from 12 to 20 cents per pound.
I visited one home in Brookhaven where a lady bought her husband a monolithic stone for an anniversary present. This stone, which was worth about $1,000, was large enough to use as a chaise lounge. Will archaeologists look at this rock someday the way we look at Stonehenge in Great Britain?
I have heard of another homeowner who is having a water garden built and has already used 240 tons of rock. You may think to yourself, "I just can't spend money for a rock," but yet you have no qualms about buying landscape timbers for edging or brick for a patio. There is really no difference except you are buying a natural looking, everlasting product when you buy rock for the landscape.
Rocks have many possibilities around the home, such as edging around a perennial bed, water gardens of all sizes, raised beds, walkways and patios, accents and my favorite -- the dry creek.
Kings Daughter's Hospital in Brookhaven has a long dry creek in the front that is lined with plants like Goldstrum rudbeckia, ornamental grass and some Japanese maples. The natural landscape is inviting as visitors either wait inside or walk to their car.
Another home I visited had an area that needed to have assistance in moving water away from the house in rainy periods. They made a dry creek that looks so natural and yet is so valuable in the low area.
Another home had a creek the entire length of the house with beds of giant liriope, native azaleas and blooming Virginia sweetspires. The initial plan took courage, but the finished product was awesome.
The rocks are here for our use, and even if you feel timid about doing it yourself, we have an abundance of nurserymen, landscape designers and landscape architects who have the expertise to help us develop that special private retreat in our yard.