How to make a rock garden in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Learn how to move your rocks to a rock garden for easy gathering in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.


Making a rock garden in Animal Crossing: New Horizons can be extremely useful for a few different reasons. Not only does it get your rocks out of any areas you plan on developing in, but it also makes it very easy to harvest all of your daily materials in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, though, getting your rock garden set up is going to be a bit tedious. We’ve broken down the entire process in the guide below, so keep reading if you want to know how to make a rock garden in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

How to make a rock garden

completed rock garden - animal crossing: new horizons
My completed rock garden in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

If you’re going to set up a rock garden, then you’re going to need to prepare a few things. First, we’re going to outline the items you need to make this work. Here’s a list of all the items you need to build a rock garden:

  • 6 fruit
  • A shovel
  • A 7x5 grid area (or 7x9 if you want to fence in the garden) situated across two regions of the map
  • Terraforming unlocked
  • A simple design in your Custom Designs app that you can easily edit later.

Now, before we get started, I think it’s important to point out just how tedious this entire process is. The method that we’re going to suggest is the easiest to clean up, but it will leave you with hundreds of mannequins all around your island. This makes it hard to navigate, and even disrupts the spawning of things like money spots (the shiny holes that you can use to grow money trees). As such, you should seriously consider whether this is something you want before you set out to do it. If you’re sure you want to invest the time – and possible Bell loss – then you can continue using the methods we’ve outlined below.

Setting up your grid

The first thing you need to do before you start throwing down mannequins everywhere is set up a grid for your rock garden. As I mentioned above, you’re going to want a 7x5 grid area, or a 7x9 grid area if you plan to fence it. I highly recommend fencing the area in, as it allows you to hit all of your rocks for the total eight times without having to worry about digging holes.

what the rock garden looks like on the map in animal crossing: new horizons
The rock garden can be seen in the top left-hand corner of the map. It straddles two regions.

You’ll also need to make sure you find the perfect place for your grid, as there are some rules that rocks have to follow when respawning. First, you can only have a total of four rocks in any one region of the map. If you open up your map, you’ll notice that it’s broken down into grid-like pieces. These are all different regions of your map. Because of this rule, you’ll want to set your grid up on the line that separates two regions.

Rocks can appear in dirt, dark dirt, and sand path tiles. Use stone, wood, or any other hard path to draw out the grid for your garden.

You can either set the garden up along the vertical lines – similar to how I set mine up in the image above – or you can set it up horizontally. Find a place that works well for you (one that you’re happy keeping for a while, as this process is tedious) and then use a hard path like stone or wood to chart it out. Make sure to leave open spots (or put down dirt or sand) for the rocks. You’ll want the final product to look like this before you start breaking rocks.

Rock garden grid - animal crossing: new horizons
Make sure your rock garden is set up with a grid similar to this.

Move your rocks

Now that you have the basis for your rock garden set up, you can actually start moving your rocks around. This is where the shovel and fruit come in handy. Go ahead and eat all six pieces of fruit and then make your way around your island. Find all six of your rocks and destroy them. Make sure you’ve already gathered up all your materials for that day, as it will take a few days for the rocks to respawn in your garden. Alternatively, you can also break up the rocks one a day, as this will allow you to continue gathering some materials while you wait for them to all respawn in the garden area.

We briefly covered the topic of moving rocks in another guide on the site, so make sure to check that out if you have any other questions about this part of the process.

Blocking off future rock spawns

There are a few different methods available for this process, however, for the sake of an easy cleanup, we’re only going to focus on the mannequin method. If you want, you can always check out the Animal Crossing subreddit or various YouTube videos for details on other methods. While tedious, this method offers the easiest cleanup possible, so we suggest using it if you plan on making a rock garden.

Placing mannequins in animal crossing: new horizons
Head into your Custom Designs App on your Nook Phone to drop mannequins of a design.

Before you get started blocking off future spawns, there are a couple of things to note. Rocks cannot spawn in the following areas:

  • On the beach
  • Adjacent to existing buildings/houses
  • Touching the edge of a river/pond
  • Right next to a tree
  • On the edge of a cliff (any layer)
  • On any hard paths like stone, wood, or brick

With this in mind, you can start setting up your mannequins to block any future spawns to ensure that the rocks spawn in your garden when they reappear. You can use any design that you’ve made, but I suggest using something that you can easily edit when you’re done. When I did it, I just used a blank white design that I didn’t care about.

When you’re ready, head to one side of your island and start dropping mannequins. Rocks need to have eight blocks around them in order to spawn. Flowers and weeds count as empty spaces when it comes to rock spawns, so make sure you place mannequins next to them to keep rocks from spawning. I made the mistake of not blocking off the area close enough to a group of flowers and ended up with a rock with flowers all around it.

flowers beds in animal crossing: new horizons
Make sure to block off flower beds too, as rocks will spawn right next to them if you haven't placed down any mannequins.

To successfully block off the future spawns, make sure you’re placing down a mannequin every two blocks (you can check this by digging holes with your shovel). This will keep the rocks from being able to spawn in the free area and give you plenty of room to move around. Now, obviously you aren’t going to be able to set this up perfectly, as you will need to work around buildings, paths, and other obstacles. Just do your best, and make sure that any possible areas that rocks could spawn are covered with mannequins.

If you do, for some reason, miss a spot, you can always break the rock that spawns and just drop another mannequin down. Once you’ve finished placing down mannequins, I highly recommend taking a trek around your map. Make sure you can still get around easily enough, and that you didn’t miss any possible spawn locations. If – like me – you’re paranoid of an area that shouldn’t have a spawn, you can always set up another mannequin. What’s one more out of two hundred, right?

Cleaning up after

Now, all you can do is wait. If you’re not a time traveler, then just continue doing your daily tasks as you can. Why not take a look at more of our Animal Crossing: New Horizons guide for more helpful info about other tasks you can accomplish in Nintendo’s latest hit. If you are a time traveler, then go ahead and jump forward to the next day and check things out.

If rocks are spawning correctly in your garden, then you’re good to go. Just leave your mannequins up until all six have moved to the garden. If you aren’t seeing any rocks spawning in the grid that you set up, then go ahead and make a pass of your island and look out for any possible rocks. If any spawned in areas you didn’t want them to, then go ahead and break them using fruit and a shovel.

Ate too much fruit? Check out our guide on how to get rid of the food buff.

Continue this method until all six of your rocks have spawned in your garden. When all six are situated correctly, head into your Custom Design App on your Nook Phone and then find the design that you used to set up your mannequins. Open it up in the designer, and then change one part of it. This can be as simple as placing a red dot on it or anything like that. This change will cause the mannequins that you placed around your island to vanish, making cleanup for this process super simple.

Now that you’ve completed the process and moved your rocks to a rock garden, you can start gathering your daily materials much more easily.


Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

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