Adding River Rock For An Interesting Texture and Function

Decorative Rock For Your Phoenix Yard
March 8, 2019
Adding Rip Rap For An Interesting Texture and Function
March 8, 2019

Adding River Rock For An Interesting Texture and Function

River rock is a very rounded and smooth natural rock that is found in riverbeds throughout the country. The stones are smoothed over time by water, sediment, and debris that is washed over the surface. River rock is normally sold in two sizes with the larger being 3” to 8” and the smaller being 1” to 3”. The larger stone is far more popular than the smaller size. Most of the river rock in Arizona is grey to almost a chalky white in color, but there can be a few odd pieces with a more blue to pink cast.

Dry Creek Beds

Because of the very smooth, washed appearance of river rock, it creates a very unique visual contrast to the decorative rock used as ground cover in most yards. The color is also a nice contrast to the browns and reds of most of the granite used in Phoenix. Many designers will use river rock to create a dry creek bed which meanders through a landscape creating visual interest and a means of pulling the eye around the property. The dry creek bed serves no real purpose other than to add to the visual interest of the property. These features can be created by digging down slightly below the original grade and then lining the channel with the larger river rock material. The smaller rock can be used to fill in the small gaps between the larger rocks.

Functional Drainage

River rock is the perfect material to create a very functional drainage channel, much as it did when it was lining an actual creek or river. These features can drain water from a downspout, runoff from a hard surface such as a driveway or parking lot or even storm runoff. When the creek bed is functional, it is normally dug to be about 6” or more below the natural grade to ensure that the water flows in the desired direction. The smooth river rock stones are very a good choice for a functional river bed because the smooth surface allows debris to flow freely with the water.


River rock material can also be used as a border for ponds, water features, plant beds or even as a barrier. The uneven surface of the rocks makes it difficult and sometimes dangerous to walk on and will deter most foot traffic. In wet conditions, these smooth rocks are also very slippery and do not provide stable footing.

River Rock Calculator and Care

Due to the size of the pieces of rock, 1 ton of river rock will only cover about 30 square feet of surface area to the recommended depth of 6”. This is a very easy project for any homeowner who is interested in a do-it-yourself project but is not afraid of a little hard work. Often times the larger pieces must be placed by hand as shoveling is very difficult and awkward. But there is no real skill needed to complete this type of project. Maintenance is limited to occasional spraying with liquid weed control to keep the river rock looking nice.

Contact Cyclone Rock to learn more about the varieties of river rock that they offer and how you can create a completely new look in your yard just by adding this interesting feature.