Gravel garden ideas: This is how you can effectively create the illusion of water!

A gravel garden is a very modern and easy-care alternative to the conventional garden, because it enables gardeners to grow in a dry location. A lush, green garden needs regular and adequate irrigation in the first place. But one of the biggest disadvantages of the rock garden is that it sometimes just looks and feels “dry”. How can you create a beautiful garden with much less water? Here are some of the best tips on how to create the look and feel of water in the landscape without using much of it. With the right planning, even a water-saving gravel garden can look very attractive.

Gravel garden ideas: create a flowing sea of ​​ornamental grasses

Gravel garden ideas with grasses of Mexican feather grass

The swinging movement of a large number of ornamental grasses, reminiscent of sea waves, gives the garden a feeling of life and rhythm. Choosing the right plants makes the illusion even better. Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima), still known as angel hair feather grass, the most commonly used type of grass to achieve this effect.

Gravel garden ideas with ornamental grass concrete slabs as sidewalk

Is it possible to have a beautiful garden without mowing the lawn?

Festuca rubra ornamental grass as a lawn replacement around rock garden

Create a green lawn out of clumping ornamental grasses. These lawns do not need mowing and have a shimmering, lush green color that makes them look as if they are getting a lot of water. In fact, they can thrive almost without water. The tufts move gently in the wind like water waves over the surface of a lake and have a natural appearance. Many gardeners recommend a mixture of the varieties for dry soils Festuca rubra, Festuca occidentalis and Festuca idahonensis.

Festuca rubra ground cover as a lawn substitute no mowing

Plant “spiller” plants in tubs

Gravel garden ideas with plants in tubs

When we think of the classic “thriller, filler and spillers” recipe for planting large tubs, the spiller is often there to cover the side of the pot. Hanging plants can create the illusion of a waterfall. The drought-tolerant plants that grow hanging include the silver rain (Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls'), the pea plant (Senecio rowleyanus) and grasses such as the Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii).

Gravel garden ideas: Use succulents for an “under the sea” look

Gravel garden ideas with succulents in different forms

Plants with a bizarre shape or fantastic foliage or color can create a magical underwater mood. Succulents are particularly well suited for this. And even better: they are wonderful plants for a gravel garden. Try the shell-shaped desert cabbage (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora), rosette-shaped echeveria to imitate corals, Senecio serpens for sea anemones and the aptly named octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana). If the succulents are planted in containers, they can be brought into the house for the winter.

Succulents look like corals

Create a dry stream

Dry stream and succulents in the front yard

Dry stream beds can be built for purely aesthetic reasons, or they can collect rainwater from downpipes and direct the water into a rain garden. Before you finish your garden design, pay attention to how the rainwater naturally flows through your garden. For the shape of the dry baking, let yourself be inspired by the way the water gently winds around obstacles such as trees and rocks and how it puddles at low points. Larger stones on the edges of the stream bed should be partially buried in order to achieve a more natural look. However, make sure there is a clear separation between the stone bed and planting areas. Aggressive grass can quickly mess up a dry stream bed.

dry stream as decoration in the rock garden

Create a little oasis

Gravel garden ideas a little fountain on stone bed

In the Persian tradition, gardens were created around a symbolic representation of water that provided cooling, at least visually, on the hottest day. Even something as simple as a bird bath, a copper bowl or a galvanized steel storage tank filled to the brim gives the impression that water is abundant, even if that is not true. To make maintenance easier, a recirculation well is recommended, in which the water is returned to the circuit with a pump.

Or create an illusion of water through mirrors

Gravel garden ideas with grasses - a round mirror creates an illusion of water

Water is a natural mirror. Imagine a silent pond reflecting the sky. You can stage a surface of water with a round or rectangular mirror that is placed flat on the floor. To try this trick, you should prepare the ground by digging a few inches deeper and laying a sand bed as the basis for your mirror. Arrange boulders of different sizes on the edges of the mirror to hide the corners of the mirror. Then plant low-growing plants “in the riparian zone” such as Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and small-flowered purple bells (Heuchera micrantha).

Low-water gardens: use resources consciously

Mexican feather grass in the easy-care garden

These gravel garden ideas are a beautiful example that it is possible to bring the symbolic and aesthetic power of water into your garden without using large amounts of it. No matter where you live, whether you're at risk of drought or blessed with plenty of rain, designing a water-saving garden is about respecting the value of water. It is about using water sensibly and economically and honoring the place where you live by creating a garden that belongs there.

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