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Know Your Stones: Choosing the Best Landscaping Rocks for Your Space

Salisbury Landscaping Alberta-Know Your Stones-large boulders in backyard

Stones and rocks are a key element of landscaping and naturalistic designs, but there are so many options available! If you’re looking to purchase landscaping stones or design a rock garden and don’t know where to start, we have an overview of all the different styles you can choose from and the best ways to use them. 

Small Stones for Landscaping

Small landscape stones are typically for pathways through your yard and garden. There are two main styles: pea gravel and crushed gravel. They tend to break down over the years, so if they start getting super dusty and crumbly, you can swap them out with a fresh batch.

Pea Gravel

These tiny stones are smooth and small, just like peas. They’re often used on children’s playgrounds because they don’t have any sharp edges. If you’re installing a path that you’ll probably walk through with bare feet, or if you’ve got kids running around the yard, pea gravel is a great choice.

Salisbury Landscaping Alberta-Know Your Stones-crushed gravel

Crushed Gravel

As you’d expect, crushed gravel is essentially just crushed rocks. They have more of a rustic, natural look than pea gravel, but they have sharper edges and vary in size and shape. Crushed gravel is easy to tamp down, and contractors often use it for road shoulders, backfill and pipe bedding projects. For landscaping, we love using crushed gravel for driveways

Crushed Landscape Stone

Crushed stone is basically just like crushed gravel, only bigger. The shapes and sizes vary, and the edges are sharp.

River Rock

One of the most popular landscaping rocks, river rock has smoother, rounded shapes, but there still tends to be some size and shape variance. It looks beautiful as an accent around fences and boulders or as a ground cover for rock gardens. 

Salisbury Landscaping Alberta-Know Your Stones-small landscaping stone

Medium-Sized Decorative Stones

Rocks around 1–2” wide are medium-sized landscape stones. We don’t recommend them for areas with high foot traffic, as they make the terrain more uneven, which could result in tumbles and twisted ankles! Instead, we like medium-sized decorative stones for lining garden pathways and filling up garden beds as an alternative to mulch. 

Medium-sized rock lasts much longer than gravel, but it still breaks down over several years, so you may need to replace them several years down the road. We recommend three styles: crushed landscape stone, river rock, and lava rock.

Lava Rock

This distinctive landscape stone is sourced from volcanoes, with a porous texture and darker colour that adds drama to the scenery. Lava rock is usually black, grey, or reddish-brown. 

Crushed Landscape Stone

Rundle rock is a type of crushed stone that is the perfect option if you’re looking for stone that will support walking on a slope. It is medium-sized with jagged edges that grip each other, keeping your stone in place even throughout rain and snowfall. 

River Rock

Creekstone is a gorgeous medium river rock with cool tones, perfect for accenting your landscape. The edges are very smooth and make a beautiful addition for a softer texture in your landscape. 

Large Landscaping Rocks

Big, statement rocks can serve many functions in the landscape. You can use them as garden edging stones, in retaining walls, structural projects, stepping stones, or just as standalone decorative accents! There are two main types of large landscape rocks, and their functions vary quite a bit due to their difference in shape.  

Always be careful when arranging large landscape rocks—they can be very heavy! You may need some extra hands to help you move the larger pieces. 


Giant boulders make fantastic accent stones for rock gardens. Their large, heavy nature makes them an excellent material for structures like retaining walls or benches. Boulders look best if you arrange them in a natural and imperfect way. Avoid symmetry and try to choose an assortment of boulders in different shapes and sizes if you plan on lining them up in a row. 

Salisbury Landscaping Alberta-Know Your Stones-flagstone seating area


These big, flat rocks are also called slab stones. They’re perfect stepping stones to place throughout the garden and landscape or around pool decks, patios, and water features like ponds and fountains. You can allow your grass or ground cover plants to grow around flagstone paths, or you can create tidy, edged borders and fill the remaining space with gravel.

Are you searching for landscape stones in Edmonton? Visit Salisbury Landscaping to see all the different colours, sizes, and styles available. We’ll be more than happy to help you find the perfect style to suit the theme and colour palette of your landscape design. 

Posted in Landscaping Inspiration

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