7 Things You Need to Know Before Using Decorative Stone in Landscaping

A quick search on Pinterest is all you need to find endless inspiration for incorporating decorative stone in your next landscaping project. From garden beds to retaining walls to walkways, the possibilities are seemingly endless. While many of these project can be reasonable DIY projects, others will require help from professionals.

Before You Start

While decorative stone can add serious curb appeal, there are some things you should know before you start planning your stone landscaping project. Whether you are planning a DIY project or will be hiring a professional, educating yourself about decorative stones and your options will help you make the best decisions for your needs.


The density of the type of stone being used will be a big factor in the weight of the materials. As a general baseline, assume one cubic foot of stone will weigh approximately 100 pounds. One cubic yard of stone will weigh in at around 3,000 pounds. You should plan to have appropriate tools to help you move and spread the stones safely and prevent injury from lifting. If you are using decorative stone on an existing structure, be sure it can support the weight.


The amount of decorative stone required for your project will depend largely on the size of the area you plan to cover and how thick the layer of stones will be. In general, one cubic yard will cover:

  • 105 square feet at 3 inches thick
  • 80 square feet at 4 inches thick
  • 51 square feet at 6 inches thick

Depending on the size and shape of the stones, these estimates can vary. These estimates are used as a reference point only.

Shop Local

Decorative stones are heavy which can make transporting them costly. If you are looking to minimize your expenses, consider using local or regional stone indigenous to your area. Selecting materials that can be easily sourced in your geographic region can help reduce the cost of transporting the materials. This can in turn reduce the final price of the materials.


If you are using decorative stone as mulch, be sure to choose carefully. Stone can be a great alternative to more traditional mulch as it lasts longer and does not degrade the way wood mulch or pine straw does. However, while traditional mulch can be fairly easily changed and replaced every season, decorative stone ground cover takes substantially more work.

Stones and Soil

Decorative stone rock mulch can help inhibit weed growth and retain moisture in you soil. Larger stones will allow rainwater to penetrate into the ground more quickly through larger cracks. This can help minimize standing water. However, those larger cracks also allow weeds to grow more easily. Overtime, rainwater will also wash minerals from the stones into the soil. This results in rocks like limestone gravel changing the acidity of the soil over time.

Warm and Toasty

Rocks absorb heat from the sun and heat the ground area they cover. This can provide valuable warmth, but it can also dry out the soil too much for some plants. Consider the amount of sun an area receives and the amount to heat your plants can tolerate before selecting your materials.

Size and Shape

Large, angular rocks allow for storm water to filter through and drain more quickly. Larger stones will also trap more leaves and debris. Small, smooth stones lay flatter and allow for leaves to be blown away more easily. Small, round stones are generally considered ideal for walkways and dog runs as they are easier to walk on and gentler on feet and paws.

Order Decorative Stone Today

National Site Materials offers a two online order forms to help make ordering quick and easy. Contractors can use our Contractor Order Form while residential customers can use the Homeowners Order Form. With either form, all you need to do is tell us what materials you need along with when and where you need them delivered. Our order fulfillment team will handle the rest.

National Site Materials currently offers:

  • #5 Green Stone
  • #5 Grey Alabama Lime Stone
  • 1 ½ Brown River Gravel
  • 1 ½ White River Gravel
  • ½ Brown River Gravel
  • 1 River Rock
  • 1 White Marble Chips
  • ½ White River Gravel
  • 3/3 White River Rock
  • Red Lava Rock
  • Medium Slate Rock

Have questions about your order? Contact us online or call us at (888) 237-2746 and we will work with you to find the materials you need for your next project.

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