Top Dressing: Decorative rocks for your succulents

Gain a polished look for your succulent displays by adding a top dressing or decorative rocks. This small alteration will give your succulents a stylish flair!

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One of the great things I’ve found about working with succulents is the option to add top dressings, which are decorative stones positioned on top of the soil once your planting arrangement is complete.

This often overlooked aspect can add an extra touch of elegance to an already beautiful arrangement.

I was fortunate enough to have Michael and Danielle Romero, two incredible designers, be the ones to first bring this concept to my attention. I had the pleasure of photographing some of their amazing creations while working on my book, Idiot’s Guides: Succulents.

When I got there to take pictures, they were almost done decorating the succulent arrangements with the finishing touches. It was incredible to watch the transformation of the arrangements as they carefully chose the top dressings to match the succulents.

I was particularly fond of the pairing of Graptoveria paraguayense with the purple top dressing in a purple pot.

I was also a fan of the Crassula marnieriana, and the pink and grey pea gravel that was used as the topping was a great finishing touch.

Check out the video below to learn more about the advantages of top dressing!

Benefits of Adding a Top Dressing

Using a top dressing when watering can help ensure that the soil stays in place, particularly if you are using an organic soil with small particles. This can help prevent the soil from being washed away.

Reformulated: To further enhance the look of your succulent arrangement, I recommend using a top dressing with subtle shades that match the colors of the succulents. Doing so will help to create a unified look by tying all the elements of the composition together.

Third, adding a top dressing to your arrangement gives it a polished and professional look. Many succulent designers I have encountered usually use a range of colors, rocks, and moss to cap off their designs. There are many different options available, so it is easy to find one that fits your arrangement perfectly.

My friend Laura Eubanks, a succulent designer, doesn’t limit herself to just using top dressings in her container arrangements. She also incorporates a variety of rocks to create stunning succulent landscapes. Adding a layer of material to cover the soil helps to enhance the look of the design and draw attention to the succulent.

How to Add a Top Dressing

How to Add a Top Dressing

Once the pot has been filled with soil and plants, spread the top dressing evenly over the surface of the soil.

Using the tweezers and bead scoop can make it easier to work in tight areas. Notice the transformation the Echeveria ‘Lola’ has undergone with the addition of a top dressing.

Including decorative stones to the landscape not only provides aesthetic appeal, but it is also practical. The top dressing of the stones helps keep the soil in place when the area is watered.

This helps to keep the landscape in the same place for a longer period of time and also reduces the amount of dust that is kicked up when watering.

View the video below to observe the transformation that occurs when a top dressing is applied to a succulent arrangement during the tidying up process.

I was taken aback by the difficulty of locating a suitable top dressing for succulents that I liked and that was easy to buy. I have spent a considerable amount of time going through online and local stores in search of the perfect item.

When I was having trouble finding what I wanted, I contacted the great Bonsai Jack for assistance. Thankfully, he was able to expand his store to include a variety of different types of top dressings.

I tend to prefer the softer colors such as light pastel and bone white, but there is a wide range of shades available, so you are sure to find something you like!

Should I removed a glued on top dressing?

Pebbles are regularly used by Lula’s Garden to ensure that their succulent arrangements arrive in perfect condition.

Sometimes Lula’s Garden’s products are designed to wear off over time due to their water solubility, but there are also times when they are made to last.

Succulents that are affixed with adhesive will not have the benefit of adequate space to expand, and the top dressing will prohibit them from pushing up.

Another issue with a glued top dressing is restricted air circulation. The adhesive layer prevents the succulent’s soil from drying out, similar to how a lid on a container traps air in a refrigerator.

I suggest that adding a top dressing to your succulent arrangement can be beneficial, as long as it’s not glued in place and blocking water from getting through. I find them incredibly useful for my arrangements, and I’m sure you will too!

I was amazed when I found out how great top dressings can be for giving succulent arrangements a polished, professional look. Ever since then, I’ve been adding them to every design I create.


Can you put decorative stones on top of soil?

Previously, it was mentioned that the use of decorative stones on top of soil can protect the roots of plants from direct sunlight and inhibit weed growth. This is why it is a common practice to top soil with rocks as it is an effective way to maintain the health of plants.

Can I put small rocks on top of soil?

Adding decorative rocks to your yard can be an effective way to increase the health and beauty of your plants, grass, and other areas. Rocks can help keep plants and trees hydrated by trapping moisture, guard tree roots from damage, and give your yard a more attractive look.

What are the benefits of top dressing succulents?

Third, it can help improve the drainage of the soil, and reduce the risk of root rot in your succulents. Finally, it can also provide a buffer from direct sunlight and help keep the soil moist.

What top dressing is best for succulents?

Some of the most popular toppings for succulents are colorful pebbles, Polish white pebbles, Brown wood pebbles, gravels, sand, crushed charcoal, rocks, and green moss.

What can I use for top dressing succulents?

Some of the most commonly used topdressings for succulents are colorful pebbles, Polish white pebbles, Brown wood pebbles, gravels, sand, crushed charcoal, stones, and green moss.