After a few feet of finished rock face is complete, you will find the need for walks for access and circulation become obvious. Theoretically the visitor to the rock garden should be able to jump from rock to rock, observing closely every plant. However, because rock gardens are often open to many visitors the need for pathways to ensure plant care when there are crowds of people. You may consider using statuary to mark the paths. Place flat stones on areas where the walking is greatest and the slope is steep. Minor walks can use a combination of peat, sand, or pine needle covering.
On sharp slopes you will want to create rough steps that are not too irregular, but avoiding a finished look. In the joints, tiny rock plants will ne right at home. Walks normally follow the valleys, but sometimes may run along ridges. Creating pathways for visitors to view and enjoy the rock garden, as well as caring for your plants, and making the entire garden visually appealing can be a daunting task. As the rocks are laid, locked, and embedded, all of the freshly broken sides and discolored soil should be turned out of sight, and the weathered, mossy, and lichened areas should be turned to view. This will allow the new area to look aged and mature, even though it may cause more suffering for your workers?
So why not allow the broken face of the stone to face outwards over the mossy side if it is stable? For the first part of the back fill of soil, the original soil of the site can be used (unless clay), but the last six to eight inches of soil below the finished surface should be of the special prepared mixture. This should be well rammed, pounded, pushed into every crevice, layer, and pocket with stone chips and pebbles put in for further drainage. With so loose a soil (mostly sand, pebbles, and fiber) there is no danger of pounding it too compactly; and rain and frost should not move it about much. A final layer of an inch of sand or shredded peat may be put on as a finishing touch, not so much for the neat effect as to keep out germinating weeds.
If you are planting the pockets right away, the soil should be well watered, without washing away any of the soil or loosening the rocks. It is best to wait several months from the time of construction to planting (summer construction and next spring planting), giving nature a chance to pass judgment on the new scenery before vegetation is added. Also the weeds which got in during the building will show themselves and may be wholly excavated and eradicated while the pockets are otherwise empty.