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New Techniques for Creating Boulder Rock Gardens

When planning an outdoor space on sites with difficult slopes most homeowners consider expensive or mundane-looking walls. A New Jersey landscaping construction firms offers a creative alternative for retaining those outdoor living areas that's more natural in appearance and remarkably cost effective: the rock garden.

Today's rock gardens, otherwise known as rockeries or alpine gardens, aren't the dull or meager assemblages of stone that your parents might remember. Advances in technology and greater attention to design and rock selection allow landscaping professionals to replicate natural environments that typically are created by time and the elements. "Expertise and artistry really are key in designing this type of landscape," says Chris Cipriano, President of New Jersey based Cipriano Landscape Design, which specializes in landscaping with large rockery formations.

Construction of a rock garden is, in actuality, a complex process--not just a random placement of stone. The grain of each rock surface is carefully examined so that the stone can be placed to appear as if it had always laid in that spot. In fact, the strategic placement of base stones, filler stones, plants, flowers and shrubs is critical in creating an authentic setting. Harmonious colors, distinctive flowers, various shapes and textures, a variety of leaf forms and proper scale all are necessary to ensure the rockery fits seamlessly into the landscape at any time of year. When garden plants grow properly within soil pockets between the stones, they give the illusion that they are growing atop the stones as they might in the wild. "It truly is an awing backdrop for any home," Cipriano says.

There is no limit to how many or what type of stones can be used in a rockery. In the past few years, Cipriano Landscape Design has installed more than 1,000 tons of natural rock formations for its clients. Because the company maintains its own fleet of heavy construction equipment, it has extensive experience in working with all manner of stone. For one client, Cipriano Landscape Design transported and installed a 44,000-pound sandstone from the Susquehanna River Valley's Allegheny Mountains. "Our masons and heavy equipment operators collaborate to construct incredible natural stone formations with their extensive understanding of the material and their constant desire to make each outdoor environment more unique and extravagant than the last," Cipriano says.

Site preparation properly performed by a trained professional ensures a minimal amount of post-construction issues. The positioning of trees and plants themselves is an important next step, so that they appear to have grown naturally over time. Finally, the infill process ensures that there is proper drainage and also that air pockets won't cause settling of the stones or dirt to be pulled away from plant roots.

"The beauty of these large formations is in how they mimic the variations of large rockeries found almost anywhere in nature," Cipriano says. "That also means that the homeowners who choose to install them are getting truly original pieces of nature's art."

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