In landscape design, pebbles form part of the hardscape. Treat hardscape elements as the bones of a landscape because they provide a framework and structure to the overall design. Hardscapes comprise borders and pathways as well as patios, decks and driveways.
Zen gardens were first created by sixth-century Buddhist monks as aids in contemplation and meditation. Later, these gardens were used to teach basic Buddhist principles to novices and to deepen their understanding of Zen philosophy. In Zen gardening, small items such as rocks take on symbolism of larger items such as mountains. A bed of pebbles may be raked and sculpted to represent a body of water or a range of mountains. This style of gardening is known as karesansui, which means "not using water."
Dry Stream Beds
In landscape design, lines serve an important function. A line created by a pathway or a flower border visually directs the eye through the garden to points of interest. One way to create a line through the garden is with a dry stream bed. Dry stream beds are stone or pebble-lined channels that mimic natural waterways. These waterways may also contain larger stones or boulders along with the pebbles. For a natural look, border a dry stream bed with low-growing plants as well as stepping stones, bridges or waterfalls.
According to the University of California, pebble mosaics are an art form that dates back 2000 years. Ancient Romans and Persians used pebbles to create patterns for pathways and artwork that decorated both floors and courtyards in ancient times. Today, artists create pebble mosaics using different coloured pebbles positioned into geometric patterns and held in place with mortar. Soften mosaics around the edges with low plantings such as ferns or hosta.