The benefit of stones in the garden

One activity we have done on the MOOC about soil recently is to measure the amount of stones in our own parcel of land. Fortunately, my soil is pretty free of them, so they aren’t restricting root growth or increasing drainage, when I’ve got sandy loam, which hardly needs help that domain.

However, there is a plus side to stones. But rather than stones in the soil, this time I’m referring to rocks (or bricks, for example) on top of the soil. The benefits are twofold: the soil under them conserves moisture for longer and they hold heat, so they alter the microclimate slightly.


When I moved the coldframe yesterday evening (from the area where I intend to build another hugel bed to a spot I have cleared of chard), I noticed the soil under the bricks was indeed still moist in comparison with that which had not been so covered. So, I strategically placed other bricks around the garden to give various crops the benefit of water for longer.

Then it occurred to me that the walls of the coldframe, also being of brick, might make the environment for seedlings within somewhat warmer. In other words, taking it that my neighbours cut their conifers down before this winter (it’s on the cards), which would mean sunlight could reach the ground in my garden, the bricks might give any plants in there extra insulation….

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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13 Responses to The benefit of stones in the garden

  1. skyeent says:

    I read about the heat retaining effect of stones in Sepp Holzer’s books. I admit I was a bit sceptical, until I saw the effect of stones retaining warmth in my polytunnel this year. I got early germination of leaf beet, chick weed and miners lettuce only in the path where I segregate the stones from my borders! I think the effect may be more pronounced where you get a big temperature variation day and night like in the tunnel (and in Sepp’s case in the Alps).

    • Helen says:

      Great that the stones appear to have helped you 😊. I would like to get hold of Sepp Holzer’s books – from what I’ve read on his website, his work sounds very interesting.

      • skyeent says:

        I would have preferred better germination in the beds actually! Maybe I should stop taking the stones out?
        I’d love to visit his farm, maybe one day….

        • Helen says:

          I think it depends how many stones you have and how big they are. Otherwise you might have great germination and nowhere for the roots to go as the plants get bigger.

          Yes, it would be great to visit his farm!

  2. andy1076 says:

    Keeps the moisture all inside too eh? helps you win a little more on the ever going battle vs elements and bugs too 🙂

  3. Stones are also good for butterflies, holding heat and giving them to warm up as the day cools.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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