Take a look at these inspiring stone garden designs

There are plenty of reasons why garden decor with stones makes a fantastic addition to an outdoor space. Whether you choose pebbles, gravel or something a little larger, they’ll bring texture and visual interest to all manner of features. And, they’re low maintenance, too.

Stones are also super versatile – they can be used in all different types of gardens. For instance, in a contemporary yard, a handful of glossy, jet-black pebbles can perfectly offset porcelain paving or a sculptural water feature. Meanwhile, honey-hued stones can complement a beach theme beautifully, whilst a pebble mosaic is a lovely way to add a boho twist.

So, if you’re pondering over some new garden decor ideas, then a stony approach is certainly worth considering. To help get you inspired, we’ve rounded up lots of eye-catching looks to try.

12 stylish ideas for garden decor with stones

You’ll find something for all budgets and styles in this round-up of stone garden ideas. There’s sure to be a look you’ll want to recreate in your own backyard.

1. Create a show-stopping bug hotel

bug hotel and planter made from stones at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) New Wild Garden. Designer: Nigel Dunnett. Chelsea Flower Show 2011

Embracing wildlife garden ideas is more important than ever right now, to give local birds and beneficial bugs a helping hand. And as this show-stopper demonstrates, doing so doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style.

Here, an array of flat stones have been used to create a dry stone wall – a traditional approach that offers rustic charm. Steel inserts have been included to contain recycled materials perfect for inhabiting insects. And along the top? An array of succulents and alpines, offering bright color and interesting forms.

Why not recreate the look in a flowerbed full of bee-friendly plants? Or, alternatively, use it as an eye-catching divider between different zones.

2. Mulch pots with colorful gravel

colorful gravel mulch in pots at the 'Pop Street Garden' by John McPherson at Chelsea flower show 2021

Make a statement with your containers, like in the ‘Pop Street Garden’, designed by John McPherson at Chelsea Flower Show 2021

Bring a splash of color to your containers with a top dressing of vibrant gravel. Not only will it up the style factor, but it will help the soil retain moisture and stay weed-free, too.

Go all out and pair with colorful planters – whether you go for matching or contrasting shades is up to you. We’re a big fan of these hot tones though – a great match for drought-tolerant plants in a Mediterranean garden.

3. Use black stones around mirrored features for a modern touch

david harber chalice water feature at chelsea 2021

David Harber’s ‘Chalice’ water feature, nestled amongst cool ferns and polished stones, will capture anyone’s attention

If you’re looking to increase the sensory appeal of your plot, there are plenty of water feature ideas to choose from. To keep things contemporary, something sculptural like this is a winning approach.

Crafted from mirror-polished stainless steel, it offers a striking focal point to this scene. And, the circular bed of shiny pebbles beneath makes the perfect accompaniment, whilst allowing the water to drain effortlessly (and discreetly) away.

We love how the stones contrast against the verdant ferns too, boosting the visual impact even further.

4. Combine pebbles with a waterfall

stone water feature in garden with potted trees

This display makes a beautiful focal point for a patio

Speaking of water features, if you’ve got the space, a waterfall is one way to really make a statement for your patio. And, if you don’t fancy installing a pond at the end of it, then a bed of pebbles makes a low-maintenance alternative to cover up the drain and pump. Just take a look at this example, where a bed of stones complements the laid-back surroundings beautifully.

It’s not just waterfalls and water features where this trick can come in handy. Pebbles can be used to disguise other drains around the garden, too – a tip that’s especially useful for rain gardens. ‘Things such as drainage can be an eyesore in a garden,’ says Brett Lockwood, director of The Outdoor Look. ‘Pebbles are an amazing way to detract from features such as these by covering any grates or drainage holes for a more attractive look whilst still retaining key drainage.’

5. Pep up paving with a mosaic

stone mosaic on garden paving

Bring a unique feature to your plot

Fancy giving your outdoor space an artsy vibe? Consider adding a pretty pebble mosaic to the center of your patio.

With a bit of creativity (and patience), the possibilities are endless – from spirals to stripes, stars to squares. A plan is important, so spend time sketching out the design first. Then, once you’re ready to get started, it’s simply a case of digging and levelling the area, adding mortar, and embedding your stones. 

Choose a mix of colors or stick with a monochrome look. Either way, your hard work will be rewarded by a unique garden feature that’s bound to be a head-turner. We think it’s a great addition to a bohemian garden.

6. Keep it contemporary with contrasting colors

modern stepping stone paving with pale gravel at outdoor kitchen at chelsea flower show 2021

This chic combo makes an attractive finishing touch to a stylish outdoor kitchen

‘Pathways can be enhanced by using porcelain tiles as stepping stones and surrounding each tile with pebbles,’ suggests Brett Lockwood of The Outdoor Look.

It’s a super easy and effective way to freshen up your paving, and can be applied to cottage gardens and contemporary schemes alike. For the former, go for natural hues and irregular shapes for a relaxed tone. But for modern plots, contrasting colors and sleek lines are a reliably striking choice.

Take this stunning outdoor kitchen, for instance, which pairs small, snow-white gravel with gray, timber-effect pavers. It complements the black kitchen units above well, whilst nearby planting offers a refreshing pop of green.

You can find more paving ideas in our feature. To complete your backyard makeover, our buying guide to the best garden furniture is well worth a peruse, too.

7. Opt for an elegant edge

pebbles alongside paving and raised beds with flowers at Finding Our Way – An NHS Tribute Garden by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen at Chelsea flower show 2021

A serene seating solution in the ‘Finding Our Way – An NHS Tribute Garden’, designed by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen at Chelsea Flower Show 2021

We adore this modern set-up. The sleek stone curves of the bench and raised bed tie together harmoniously with pale paving for a tranquil effect. However, it’s the narrow edge of pea gravel that really completes the scene, as it adds a welcome textural accent (and will help with drainage too).

The warm tones of the stones also complement the planting up above, where a tapestry of ornamental grasses, echinacea, and kniphofia come together for a breathtaking display.

The result is a well-balanced vista – a great approach if you’re on the lookout for modern garden ideas.

8. Step across water

peaceful Zen garden with stone stepping stones over pond

Japanese-inspired features add to this soothing scene

Looking for Zen garden ideas? Something like this may be the option for you.

Larger stones set across a pond can create an enchanting walkway that will encourage visitors to slow down and take in the natural surroundings. Add a couple of stone temples around the edges to up the authentic vibe, and perhaps an acer or two for a splash of fiery color.

Not got the space for a large pond like this? If you still want to bring a sense of serenity to your plot, another option is to create a Japanese-style gravel garden. Use a fine-textured sort and spend time raking it into patterns for a stunning and soothing display. Add a larger rock here and there to create focal points. 

9. Paint labels for your herbs

painted pebbles with herb names

These pebbles have been decorated with outdoor chalkboard paint

You don’t have to make a huge great statement with your garden decor with stones. Sometimes, it’s all in the details. And these pretty painted pebbles are a case in point. They’re budget-friendly, too.

These ones have been painted in outdoor-suitable chalkboard paint. This means they can be customized as and when needed to create cute labels for a herb garden or veg patch. But, if you invest in some acrylic paint and a waterproof sealant to go on top, you can decorate them however you wish. Think characterful critters, eye-catching patterns, or simply opt for a series of block colors in a tonal scheme. Dot them around your flowerbeds or add to containers to give them a boost.

There are lots more rustic garden ideas in our feature.

10. Prettify a wall with pebbles

wall covered in pebbles

If you’re on the lookout for new garden wall ideas, then how about a design like this? Think of it as a fresh take on pebbledash that looks anything but dated. 

A mixture of smooth stones in pale shades of cream, gray, and blush offers an elegant finish. We love how the approach has been used for this raised bed, where the colors contrast beautifully against the foliage of heucheras and hostas.

11. Recreate a coastal scene

gravel garden with coastal plants

This pretty scene includes white sea thrifts

Forget about traditional flowerbeds. Rockeries and gravel gardens are ideal if you want to create an oceanside feel. Simply plant a variety of the best coastal plants amongst the stones for a colorful, naturalistic, and easy-care scene.

Keep the sizes and colors of stones varied to add to the organic vibe. Artfully positioned pieces of driftwood and shells will extend the theme, and don’t forget to bring in some nautical outdoor lighting ideas, too.

12. Tie the look together with a tonal palette

large stepping stones and stone fire pit at Lands' End – A Rural Muse Designer: Adam Frost at chelsea flower show 2021

‘Lands’ End: A Rural Muse’, designed by Adam Frost at Chelsea Flower Show

Stones aren’t solely reserved for decorative accents. Natural stone can be used all around your garden – from your walls, paving and pond edging to your furniture.

If you decide to stick to stone as your primary material, choosing a warm, pale-honey color will keep it from feeling overwhelming. See how it brings a soothing tone to this space above, allowing the different textures and bright planting to really shine. We’re a big fan of the fire pit too – a lovely addition for keeping an outdoor living space cozy.

 If you need more garden color scheme advice, our guide will come in handy.

modern stone planter with bright flower in 'A Tranquil Space in the City' by Mika Misawa at Chelsea flower show 2021

This gorgeous stone planter was spotted in ‘A Tranquil Space in the City’, a garden designed by Mika Misawa at Chelsea Flower Show 2021

How do you use stones as a mulch?

Small gravel and pebbles make a decorative alternative to organic mulches and can be used in containers, on flowerbeds, or around trees. As they won’t break down over time, it’s best to use them around perennial plants that you won’t need to dig up or move for a while.

If adding to a raised bed, border, or around a tree, simply remove the top couple of inches of soil first so that the resulting level isn’t too high. Then, rake it out to so it’s flat. The stones alone will help to keep weeds down, but laying down landscaping fabric first will help deter the pesky intruders further.

Once your landscaping fabric is down, if using, it’s simply a case of carefully pouring on the pebbles and levelling them out. 

If adding pebbles to a container, it’s easy. Remove any topsoil if needed to get the required height, pop on your gravel, and you’re good to go!

You can find more inspiration for the look in our gravel garden ideas feature.

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