CO2 helps, a ton, and I'd recommend it but it's not necessary to make a beautiful aquascape. But I must agree with Viet Phuong. You need bigger stones and bigger wood.
Also, i wouldn't worry too much about substrate. For me it's either inert sand like PFS/BDBS or Aquasoil. (You can do dirt + cap, but for me thats only practical in a farm tank, and not an aquascape)
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