Lava Rock: What it is, and How to Use it in Your Landscaping
Do you ever look at your backyard and think, "That space has more potential than I am utilizing."
Just think about the possibilities! You could create some tidy flower beds and meandering paths. A fish pond could be a lovely addition. Maybe a waterfall. A few more flowers and shrubs.
So what's stopping you?
Likely, the issues standing in your way are expense and upkeep. The thought of buying expensive materials and keeping your landscape features flourishing and clean feels overwhelming.
Thankfully, it doesn't have to be this way. Lava rock is a landscaping material that allows you to keep costs and maintenance to a minimum.
Are you interested in knowing more about lava rock?
What is Lava Rock?
Lava rock is a porous rock with many practical and decorative uses, including landscaping.
Lava rock is technically called “scoria.” It’s an igneous rock, and it’s formed from volcanic gasses mixing with magma before spewing from a volcano. If the lava cools before the gasses escape, it forms scoria or lava rock.
Those trapped gasses form pores in the lava rocks for drainage and filtration. They also make lava rock lighter weight than other types of stone. However, unlike pumice, a similar lightweight porous igneous rock, lava rock does not float.
Lava rock can be red, dark gray, or black.
6 Creative Uses for Lava Rock
Lava rock has many uses, and it's an excellent landscaping material. Its beautiful dark color and porous nature make it ideal for many applications.
Let's explore some of the ways you can use lava rock.
Drainage and water retention
The unique pores of lava rock allow it to let water drain through or store water and release it to plants over time. Put lava rock in the bottom of potted plants to help with drainage, or mix it with your soil to help with proper water retention.
Lava rock comes in several different, beautiful colors, and you can use it to create garden paths or as mulch in your garden beds. Choose a rich red or black color to find a look that suits your taste.
Lava rock is an effective mulch for weed control, and it won’t break down over time as bark mulch will.
Using lava rock in your landscaping will set you apart from the crowd with a unique, textured look that many people love.
Lava rocks are sometimes used in gas grills because they hold heat and radiate it evenly, helping you roast your meat perfectly. Yum!
However, lava rocks are increasingly uncommon in grills because their porous nature makes them a breeding ground for bacteria after meat juices have dripped down through them over the years.
If you use lava rocks in your grill, switch them out every few years and replace them with clean rocks to prevent bacteria buildup.
If you’re interested in grills, read our blog post on Understanding the Pros & Cons of 8 Major Types of Grills.
Lava rock is commonly used in aquariums. The rocks are beautiful and make the aquarium look like a little ecosystem has been transplanted into your home.
Plus, there’s a particular reason lava rocks are used in aquariums, as opposed to other types of rocks: their pores make them an ideal place to grow the good bacteria critical to forming a healthy ecosystem.
Lava rocks are widespread in outdoor water features. Water features need a rock substrate so the bottom of the pond looks nice, plants have something to root in, and healthy bacteria can form. Lava rock is an excellent choice for this because of its beautiful colors, cost-effectiveness, and ability to harbor beneficial bacteria.
Remember, lava rocks are an excellent choice if you plan to put fish in your water features! Like in an aquarium, the lava rock keeps your ecosystem healthy.
Not only does lava rock work well as a substrate for water features, but it also works as a natural filter for water features. It helps clean the water and retains beneficial bacteria.
Ideas for Using Lava Rock in Your Landscaping
As mentioned earlier, one of the most popular ways to use lava rock is in your landscaping. Lava rock looks gorgeous:
- In your flower beds
- On your pathways
- In your water features
But let’s expand our imagination. What else might lava rock look like in your backyard?
Let’s explore some options for using lava rock in your yard.
Lava rock for xeriscaping
Are you exhausted from trying to expertly maintain your backyard with all the watering, mowing, and trimming involved?
Do you live in an arid climate or an area that experiences seasonal drought?
Traditional landscaping is not your only option! You can gain gorgeous, low-maintenance results by embracing xeriscaping.
To create a gorgeous xeriscaped space, it’s essential to carefully choose the right plants and suitable rock types.
Lava rock makes a beautiful and interesting addition to xeriscapes because of its vibrant red or deep black color.
It also creates a healthy, low-maintenance ecosystem by retaining moisture in the soil and preventing weeds from sprouting.
Lava rock fire pit
And lava rock is an excellent material to use in your fire pit!
Not only does it look beautiful, but it just makes sense: this material comes from volcanoes, so it’s natural that it would hold up well and look amazing underneath a brilliant fire.
But lava rock has other benefits too. As we discussed earlier regarding gas grills, lava rock evenly distributes heat, providing a better fire pit experience overall. The lava rock helps the heat radiate outward in a lovely, gentle way, warming the body and soul.
Layering rock to create texture
However, you may be worried that too much rock will make your yard look bland, depressing, and boring!
Try some lava rock! Lava rock has a beautiful color and texture, but you can make it even more appealing in your yard by layering it with stones of other colors and textures.
Here are some ideas:
- Create a spiral pattern with different rock colors
- Layer flagstones on top of your lava rock to create an enticing walkway
- Create geometric swirls and shapes, layering different rock types next to each other
For more landscaping tips, read our Ultimate Guide to Designing a Beautiful Backyard.
Where to Buy Lava Rock in Bulk
So where can you buy lava rock?
You have several options.
You can pick up a bag of lava rock at most hardware stores if you just need a few rocks for your aquarium or pond filter. For five or ten dollars, you should be able to get a bag with half a cubic foot of lava rock.
However, if you’re doing a more significant landscaping project where you need more lava rock, you’ll save considerable money and effort by buying lava rock in bulk!
Contact your local landscape supply center to see if they carry bulk lava rock for your project.
We hope that you’ve found this article helpful and informative. Now you know if lava rock is a good material for you to use in your landscaping.
If you live near Cumberland, MD, and are looking for hardscape supplies, contact us at Ebyland!
We also offer everything you need for a beautiful backyard, such as:
- Landscape lighting
- Outdoor playsets
- A plant nursery
- Outdoor furniture
- Natural stone
- Grills and fire pits
- Water gardens
We want to make it as easy as possible to build your dream landscape!