I often observe that some houses have a strip of lawn adjacent to the foundation removed, and replaced with pebbles, river stone or alike.

I understand this does not serve only decorative purpose. What is this for and how this is called?

Below is example I found on Internet:

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  • 1
    It's probably decorative in that photograph. One functional use is to prevent rain from splashing dirt onto the house. It can also be to prevent water off the roof from pooling and rebounding up behind the siding on buildings without gutters. 99% of the time it's probably just a lower maintenance alternative to mulched bed though. – Matthew Gauthier Sep 28 '17 at 5:42
  • Without a gap, you would need a weed whacker to cut the grass that is right up against the house. – mbeckish Sep 28 '17 at 13:06
  • Grass just won't grow on the side of my neighbors house because it's always in the shade. It's not a big strip, so something like this would work well. – JPhi1618 Sep 28 '17 at 14:21
  • Rock instead of plants or mulch keeps the foundation dry (or better so than plants or mulch than soak up the water and retain it)
  • Prevents grass and weeds from growing by a wall, if used with a barrier underneath, to make it easier for trimming without hitting the wall.
  • Prevents splashing up of dirt or mulch onto walls. I have a garden out by a shed that would splash up mud onto the wall of the shed during a storm, so I added a row of rock like this which stops it.
  • Similar to the first item, it overall allows better drainage so that water does not build up by the wall.

I'm not sure what this practice would be called, but it does have useful purposes and can look really nice when done right with nice rock.

  • Thanks everyone for comments, it makes sense to me now. So, how is it done normally? I assume, a turf is removed, soil leveled up, weed barrier cloth is placed, and river stones poured over it. Is that the technique? Of course stones should curve down from the house's wall. – Mark Sep 29 '17 at 0:20
  • @Mark That's exactly how I did it. Sounds right to me. – TFK Sep 29 '17 at 0:36
  • Also makes mowing easier! – noybman Sep 29 '17 at 3:20

This may not be the only reason, but the stones impede puddles from forming, which is an aspect of mosquito abatement.


Perhaps it keeps burrowing rodents away from the foundation. I know rats like walls.

  • Actually rats and mice and moles etc... even crickets, LOVE rocks. – noybman Sep 29 '17 at 3:21

One subtle advantage of rocks is security. Compared to mulch, rocks create noise from people moving about on it, and it's often used in shrouded areas like behind shrubs, right up next to the house. Dogs especially can pick up on it, but depending on the rocks, so can humans.

Rocks are millions of years old, so they are a lot lower maintenance than mulch. The larger rocks pictured don't tend to suck into lawn mowers as much as pea gravel. The economics are favorable for rocks on a long-term basis.

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