How Much Does River Rock Cost?

Written by: Staff

River rock is one of the many rocks you can use to improve the appearance of your garden or landscaping.  River rocks are also a great way to cover up an empty space, act as an alternative for grass or certain areas that may be an eyesore.  River rocks are randomly shaped rocks that come in a variety of color and shades that have a warm and inviting look.

River Rocks! by Anks, on Flickr
River Rocks!” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Anks

How much does river rock cost?

The price of river rock will depend on the size of the rock, where you live and the retailer you use.  On average, river rocks can cost anywhere from $27 to $37 per ton at a local landscaping supply yard.  This won’t include professional installation or delivery fees.  If priced by the yard, it can be in the $230 to $250 range.

Arizona Trucking and Materials, a landscaping supply company in Arizona, lists its prices on its official website.  According to the pricing list, their salt river rock retails for $37 per ton, with the exception of the river rock in the 6 to 12-inch width range; these rocks are $2 more per ton at $39 per ton.

Now, if you were to purchase it at a local hardware retailer, such as Home Depot, by the bag, it would cost about $5 to $25 per 0.5 cubic feet.  For instance, at the Home Depot, a 0.5 cubic foot bag of Classic Stone medium-sized rocks retails for $25.  This 0.5-cubic foot bag of river rock at Lowe’s retails for $5.

As for the wholesale level, professional landscapers have claimed they have been able to find it for as little as $5 to $17 per ton at a local quarry.

River rock overview

In general, a river rock will count as anything larger than one inch in diameter, but it will exclude natural stones.  If the stone is larger than average, then it may be referred to as a boulder or larger landscaping stone, even if the material is the same.

River rock, if purchased from a local landscaping supplier, will often sort its river rocks by size.  The sizes will often be broken down by a half inch, one to three inches or three to eight inches wide.  Some suppliers may even offer crushed river rock.  Most of the time, even though the rocks will be larger in width, the prices will remain the same.

In addition to the size, rocks will be divided by grade and finish.  The higher the grade, the better the quality will be.  As for the finish, river rock will have a polished or matte look.

River rocks often work best as ground cover, often in areas where mulch is often used since it can be a lot more effective than mulching materials.

What are the extra costs?

Most suppliers will charge a delivery fee if you need it delivered to your door, whereas some may waive this fee if you purchase a minimum amount, usually five tons or more.  From most of the suppliers we looked at, most charge up to $50 to $200 per delivery, depending on the distance they need to travel.

If you need an installer to install the stone for you, then the costs, as a general rule of thumb, should be two to three times the delivery amount.  For example, if you were to spend $250 total on the rocks, then professional installation will be $500 to $750.  To be certain on the costs, use to receive multiple bids via email for free.  Simply describe the job and licensed professionals can help you out.

Tips to know:

How much river rock do you need?  The amount you need will depend on how deep you want your rock and how large the rocks are.  One ton of one to three-inch rocks one layer deep will cover about 90 square feet, whereas one ton of three to six-inch rocks one layer deep will cover about 60 square feet.  To be certain, ask the supplier you’re working with to make sure you’re purchasing enough.

Be careful if purchasing river rock that’s too small, because, from a distance, it can often look similar to gravel.  If using these rocks as a walkway, try to avoid purchasing rocks that are too big since it can be hard to walk on.  This rock will work best in a patio space, as a walkway or in place of grass.  It can also work well around plants or shrubs since it can act as mulch, preventing weed growth in your landscaping.

How can I save money?

There’s a good chance there will be a few landscaping suppliers in your area.  Check with a few to see what they charge, and if you need it shipped, don’t forget to get the delivery fee as well.

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