Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: San Francisco, CA
Here's a technique I use when setting up a hardscape.
Let's take a rockscape as an example.
It works very much like a puzzle.
I start out by choosing my main rock. This rock will be, obviously, the largest and most distinctive of all the rocks.
I then find a "co-star". The "co-star" is the rock that fits into one of the main rock's sides as if it were a puzzle piece; as if nature had weathered the two so that they fit like a hand in glove. This "puzzle piece fitting" is very important. It gives the layout a natural-looking foundation and, more importantly, forces you as an aquascaper to not try to draw the most impressive layouts with the shapes of the individual rocks, but with nature in which they lay with each other. (Sometimes, this will even require that I sacrifice a cool feature of the "co-star" in order to have the two rocks mesh puzzle piece-style.)
If I'm lucky, I'll have a third rock that will also fit snugly in a crack of the main rock. If so, I place that one, too.
The remainder of the rocks -- I don't follow the odd-number-of-stones only rule; I just place how many the rockscape needs to look good -- are then accented around so as to appear a part of, yet separate from, the focal rocks.
The main point of this puzzle-style is that aesthetics are built around the relationship of the cracks and edges of the rocks and not on the profile of the landscape they create.
Give it a try on your next rockscape. It makes those difficult "what looks best" decisions easier.
All you have to ask is, do these rocks' edges match up? If so, it's good.