If you want a touch of natural beauty in your yard but want something low-maintenance, river rock is the way to go. The average cost for river rocks is between $60 and $170 per ton, and most homeowners pay between $365 and $1,500 for a river rock landscaping project. The national average cost is $655.
In this article:
- Average costs
- Cost estimator by size
- Other factors that affect cost
- Related services
- Pro cost vs. DIY cost
- Cost by location
Average river rock costs in 2024
|Typical price range per ton||$60 – $170|
|Typical price range per cubic yard||$45 – $140|
|Extreme low-end project cost||$145|
|Extreme high-end project cost||$2,375|
You can expect to pay between $60 and $170 per ton of river rocks or between $45 and $140 per cubic yard.
Regarding landscaping, companies can charge as little as $145 and as much as $2,375 for a landscaping project using river rocks, covering 250 to 800 square feet, with 3 to 6 cubic yards of rocks (including the materials and installation).
To keep costs low, you can opt for less expensive rocks, such as pea gravel and decomposed granite, or get unpolished river rocks and install them yourself.
Homeowners that pay close to the higher-end cost are most likely getting rocks delivered and installed professionally or have a larger area that needs to be covered. In addition, homeowners who want a more polished look can get Mexican beach pebbles, one of the most expensive types of rock.
River rock cost estimator by project size
The cost of river rocks will depend on the size of your project. For example, if you have a big garden or water feature, you will need more stones, which will cost more. In addition, the cost to deliver and install them will be higher.
The average-size project needs 3 to 6 cubic yards of river rocks to cover 250 to 800 square feet. The tables below estimate the costs per ton and per cubic yard of river rocks for projects of different sizes.
|Tons/cubic yards of river rocks||Average cost range per ton||Average cost range per cubic yard|
|1||$60 – $170||$45 – $140|
|2||$120 – $340||$90 – $280|
|3||$180 – $510||$135 – $420|
|4||$240 – $680||$180 – $560|
How many cubic yards or tons of river rock do you need?
To calculate the amount of rock you’re going to need for your project so you can better estimates your costs, follow these steps:
- Measure the length and width of the area in feet.
- Determine the depth of rock you need (usually 2 or 3 inches).
- Convert the depth into feet by dividing the number of inches by 12.
- Multiply the length, width, and depth – this will give you the volume in cubic feet.
- Divide the volume in cubic feet by 27 to get the volume in cubic yards.
- Multiply the number in cubic yards by 1.4 to get the number in tons.
It might seem complicated, but this example should clear it up:
Suppose the area you want to cover is 10 feet long by 10 feet wide, and you want a depth of 3 inches.
- 3 inches (depth) ÷ 12 = 0.25 feet
- 10 feet (length) x 10 feet (width) x 0.25 feet (depth) = 25 cubic feet
- 25 cubic feet (volume) ÷ 27 = 0.93 cubic yards ( total amount of river rock needed in cubic yards)
- 0.93 cubic yards x 1.4 = 1.3 tons (total amount of river rock needed in tons)
Once you’ve figured out how much river rock it will take to cover the area of your project, you can add an extra 10% to account for any rocks lost in transportation or installation.
Other factors that affect cost
The cost of a river rock project is based on several different factors. These include the size of the project, the labor involved in installing and delivering the river rocks, and the type and size of rock you use.
The first factor to consider (after project size) is the price of labor. If you’re hiring someone to do the installation for you, that will add an average of $40 to $90 per hour of work to your bill.
It takes about two hours to place a ton of river rocks. The larger the area that needs to be covered, or the more detailed the design, the longer it will take to complete the job, which will result in higher labor costs.
If you’re looking to replace a concrete driveway or sidewalk with river rock, removing the old concrete can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, which may drive up labor costs.
Most companies include the cost of delivering river rock by the truckload in the installation total, but these costs can depend on where you live (whether or not it’s close to the provider), the number of rocks, and the type of rock that you buy.
|Delivery cost for large decorative rocks||$200 – $600|
|Delivery cost per ton||$5 – $10|
|Delivery cost per hour||$65 – $100|
For example, companies charge an average of $200 to $600 to deliver large rocks, such as boulders. Others will charge $5 to $10 per ton of river rock for delivery, and some charge by the hour ($65 to $100). Ask your supplier or contractor beforehand how much delivery will cost you so you don’t get any surprises on the final bill.
River rock types
Several different types of landscaping rocks can be used in your yard or garden. Even if you’ve settled on using river rock, there are several different varieties.
The prices for river rocks may vary depending on the type you choose, with the rarest colors being the most expensive ones. The table below shows the average prices per ton for some common types.
|River rock type||Average cost range|
|Arizona||$140 – $205|
|Cherokee||$130 – $175|
|Colorado||$70 – $285|
|Delaware||$95 – $130|
|Flat river rock||$190 – $500|
|Rainbow||$90 – $190|
|Salt and pepper||$175 – $280|
|Tennessee||$110 – $130|
|White river rock||$115 – $170|
The bigger the rock, the harder it will be to transport and install it, so the higher the cost will be. Large rocks are also heavier and denser, which means that if you pay for a ton of river rocks and they’re big, you’ll get fewer rocks than you would if they were smaller.
The most common size for river rocks is 1 to 3 inches, but you can find smaller or bigger ones. However, if you’re looking for large landscaping rocks, like stone boulders, you can expect to pay up to $600 per ton.
Rocks are very versatile landscaping elements. They come in many shapes and sizes, adding a lot of character and giving your yard a fuller range of tones. They can even be used as mulch! In addition to installing river rock, you can add value to your landscape by using rocks in other ways, such as:
Other rock types
There are many more types of rocks you can use in landscaping, with different shapes, sizes, and colors. There’s no reason you should stick with river rocks only.
The table below shows the average cost range per rock type:
|Rock type||Average cost range per ton|
|Boulders||$100 – $385|
|Bull rock||$70 – $110|
|Crushed granite||$50 – $100|
|Crushed stone||$30 – $55|
|Decomposed granite||$35 – $70|
|Lava rock||$115 – $215|
|Mexican beach pebbles||$690 – $865|
|Pea gravel||$10 – $60|
|Rip rap||$40 – $80|
Retaining walls prevent topsoil erosion and give your yard a differentiated look. They can be both functional and ornamental in your landscape.
You can build a retaining wall out of stacked stone, natural stones, and even stone veneers. Stone retaining walls usually cost between $15 and $95 per square foot, depending on the type of stone.
Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that uses less water and requires less maintenance. It is great for areas where the water supply is limited or where the climate makes it challenging to maintain a lush garden.
There are a lot of elements to xeriscaping, and landscaping rocks are one of its most prominent hardscaping materials. The average cost of xeriscaping is $17,000, with most homeowners paying $10,000 to $19,000.
Water feature or pond
Adding water features is a great way to enhance the appearance of your yard. River rocks are an excellent addition because they add texture while simultaneously complimenting the natural beauty of ponds and waterfalls.
The average cost to have a pond installed in your yard ranges between $1,900 and $6,500.
Fire pits are probably the best way to get cozy during winter. You can buy a portable pit made of aluminum or a built-in one made of natural stone or concrete.
Fire pits made of landscaping stones are usually more high-end and can cost between $350 and $3,000, but the national average cost for a fire pit is $830.
There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind. For example, if you don’t want any more rocks in your yard or need space for another project, you can hire a service to remove old rocks.
Pros charge, on average, $85 to $125 per hour to use a rock vacuum and excavate, and jobs that require more machinery will cost more. If you have a large boulder that needs to be removed, some pros will charge based on its size, about $50 to $200 per cubic yard.
Pro cost vs. DIY cost
For the most part, river rock is a DIY-friendly landscaping option due to its low cost and relative ease of installation. However, if you’re planning on laying many tons of rocks or getting large boulders, you’re better off hiring a professional, as doing it yourself might be dangerous.
It can cost between $290 and $455 to install river rocks on your own in a 100-square-foot area if you don’t have any of the necessary tools or materials already. You can easily buy these materials in home improvement centers (such as Lowe’s or Home Depot).
The table below presents the costs for installing river rock in a 100-square-foot (10′ x 10′) area.
|DIY equipment and materials||Average cost|
|River rock||$90 – $255 (1.5 tons)|
|Weed-blocking/landscape fabric||$24 ($0.24 per square foot)|
|Rubber edging||$56 ($1.40 per linear foot)|
|Total||$290 – $455|
Most homeowners already have most of the landscaping supplies listed at home, so the costs can drop to $170 if you get a good deal on the rocks and only need to purchase the weed-blocking fabric and rubber edging.
That means that if you have a small project and you’re starting from scratch (meaning you don’t have any gardening tools), hiring a professional might be worth it. However, if you’re used to landscaping and want to tackle this project yourself, you could do it pretty easily (as long as you aren’t working with large rocks that could be dangerous to move).
Cost of river rocks by location
The costs for river rocks can vary depending on where you live. Due to shipping costs and regulations, many suppliers will quote a higher price if the delivery location is rural or far away from the supplier’s place of business.
However, people usually pay more for the same service in a metropolitan area than in a rural area, so ensure you get your river rocks from the supplier closest to your home.
The cheapest rock for landscaping is pea gravel, which can cost as little as $10 per ton, but decomposite granite and crushed granite come right after.
The best river rocks for landscaping are 1 to 2 inches in size. The type, such as Arizona, Cherokee, Salt and Pepper, etc., will depend solely on your taste.
It’s ideal to lay river rocks 2 to 3 inches deep for most landscaping projects.
While the cost of a river rock project varies a lot depending on the amount of material needed, it is an affordable option for those who want to upgrade their landscape but don’t have a hefty budget. Homeowners can pay as little as $60 for a ton of river rocks. Contact a local pro to get a quote for your specific project.
Note: Lawn Love may get a referral fee for matching you with contractors in your area.