DO IT YOURSELF - Landscaping With Boulders!

Landscaping Boulders as Garden Accents

Landscaping boulders can be the perfect addition to your garden or landscaping plan – they offer the enduring beauty of natural stone and the “no maintenance” lifestyle we all crave!

The term “boulders” can be intimidating at first because most of us think of a huge piece of rock and wonder how on earth we could incorporate that into our yards. However with planning, these large boulders can serve as focal points, retaining walls or create different levels to your landscape adding a whole new dimension to your design.

Boulders used as an accent and a retaining wall.

Boulders used to add levels to a landscape.

When we speak of landscaping boulders, though, we’re most often referring to smaller, more manageably sized rocks. They can complement existing trees, shrubs and flowers and provide stunning accents in a garden bed.

Boulders can serve as a focal point in a garden bed.

In our area, landscaping boulders generally fall into one of two types of stones – fieldstone or river stone. The fieldstone boulder is one that has been weathered over centuries by the elements, leaving it with a rugged, worn appearance. As the name implies, river stones have also been weathered over centuries, but by running water in creek beds resulting in a smooth, rounded look. Both generally favor the tan or gray colors, with river stones out of the northeast offering more variety with some plum and black variations.

Various large fieldstone boulders.

Cane Creek river boulders.

When selecting landscaping boulders, the look you’re after is obviously a priority. You’ll want to choose one that’s size and color complements your design. Oftentimes, grouping several boulders in an area provides a dramatic element. Visualize the size of the boulder in your setting and make sure it enhances your landscaping without dwarfing its surroundings.

Practical considerations are also important – one of the reasons for choosing a boulder is its permanence, but you want to make sure you aren’t permanently placing it in the way of access points or wiring to your house (ie, in front of a crawlspace door or over utility lines). Also, consider how you’re going to initially move the boulder where you want it – carts are available for rent to move smaller boulders around once they’ve been delivered to your home, but larger ones will require machinery to move.

Once you’ve selected your boulder and determined where to put it, there’s a trick to making it appear like it’s there naturally. You don’t want to just set boulders on top of the ground where they look like they’ve been dropped from the sky! Instead try burying the bottom of the boulder part-way – usually around 4” to 6” (depending on the size of the boulder) and see for yourself what a difference that makes. It not only looks more natural, it also helps eliminate any rocking motion or instability caused by an uneven bottom on the boulder.

Note how these boulders are embedded into the ground.

A moss-covered boulder has an especially appealing look. Moss is a living organism that requires a cool, moist environment to survive, though, so this look will only work in certain environments. If you do have such an environment, you can encourage moss growth yourself by spreading buttermilk or yogurt on the surface of the boulder and over a few weeks, moss will be begin to grow.

Moss covered fieldstone boulder.

Landscaping boulders make an awesome addition to an outdoor setting. They require no watering, weeding or pruning, are heat, drought and cold tolerant and provide years of enjoyment! Let your imagination run free to discover how you can implement them into your landscaping.

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