15 Tips for Using Boulders in Landscaping

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Residential landscaping with boulders can draw the attention of visitors to the beauty of your home's landscape. You may have invested a lot in your home's exterior environment, and using landscaping boulders is an excellent way to give your curb appeal a refined, polished look.

Using boulders in landscaping will spotlight areas of your home's exterior you want to feature in breathtaking ways. If you're uncertain about how to start landscaping with boulders, the 15 tips below from our team at Stone Center are a great place to start.

What Are Landscape Boulders?

Boulders for landscape design include any rock with a diameter greater than 10 inches. Natural boulders form from different elements, so no two boulders will have the same shape. However, many stones that are used in residential landscaping have a geometric shape, either rectangular or square.

15 Tips for Landscaping with Boulders

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Boulders Landscaping

There are no hard and fast rules for using boulders in landscape design. Each homeowner wants to be unique in their use of big rocks for landscaping. However, we've outlined a few tips and ideas that can help you nail the perfect natural look for your home while helping you avoid tricky mistakes.

#1. Start with a Plan

As with any major task, starting with a plan is essential, especially if you want to achieve the best results when using boulders in landscaping.

Planning will cover everything from the styles you want to achieve to how you want to source your boulders and how you aim to transport them to your site. You may want to consider a professional landscape company or landscaper that also covers the transportation of boulders for the landscape.

Because boulders are large, they'll most likely be the focal point of your landscaping and they will be very difficult to move around once placed in your yard. It's important to plan where they'll be placed first and then style other landscaping features including your garden around them. Your boulder supplier may also be able to provide you with special boulders for gardens.

#2. Choose Large Boulders

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Large Boulders in the Garden

This is one trick to residential landscaping with boulders – always use big rocks for landscaping. Here are two reasons why:

First, many homeowners tend to underestimate the size of their property and the size of a boulder(s) it can take. In reality, boulders tend to look larger on a show lot than they will after they've been placed in your yard. A boulder that's too small may get dwarfed by the surrounding space. Plus, the bigger the boulder, the more attention it draws. Large granite boulders are particularly good at drawing attention with their pristine and timeless look.

#3. Set Each Boulder Down into the Dirt

Landscaping rocks and boulders must go deep into the earth. This allows them to sit well without shifting dangerously over time and also gives a natural, long-lasting look. The size and shape of a boulder will determine how deep it needs to go into the ground.

Boulders with flat sides, for example, can have just their flat side exposed to achieve a perfect garden bed element that looks like it's been there forever.

#4. Use Colors to Set a Mood

Always remember that natural boulders come in different colors. Use this to your advantage to create a theme and set a mood. From off-white to pale blue, ivory, brown, and warm-colored stones, you have plenty to choose from when landscaping with boulders.

When using boulders for gardens, you'll want to choose rocks that go well with the kind of plants in your garden. You can set huge contrasts with your plants and garden boulders or set a style of monochrome colors.

The blue vein stone with its pale blue look and the warm buff Derbyshire with the brownish dirty finish are both good fits for use as garden boulders, for example.

#5. Build Levels into Landscape Design

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The Boulders Stair

There's a lot you can do with boulders in landscaping, and one of them is building levels or creating elevations.

For example, when using boulders in the front yard, you can achieve raised beds and retaining walls, whether to create distinct partitioning or just for the beauty of the look. Finish this styling with smaller stones that'll help to add character to each raised level.

#6. Group Boulders

Setting a single boulder into your yard will most likely look out of place. A good way to make your landscape appear like the boulders have been there for years is by using boulders for landscape design in groups.

Consider placing your boulders in groups of twos or threes; you can use many of these groups together, using both large and small rocks to create unique landscape features such as a rock wall for a fountain.

#7. Surround Boulders with Gravel

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Gravel for Landscaping

Create a visually appealing rock garden by surrounding large boulders with smaller rocks and gravel. Arrange several substantial, rounded boulders as the main focal points then fill the spaces between with loose gravel or pea stone. Scatter smaller rocks and stones around the base of the boulders to blend the elements. The mix of sizes and textures provides dimension and natural ground cover for an organic yet structured design. Gravel transforms boulders into an integrated rock garden.

#8. Arrange the Boulders in Different Ways

Boulders in landscaping can be arranged in unique ways to create variety. When landscaping with big rocks, always remember that no two boulders appear the same way. Use different shapes of boulders and place them with different sides up to mimic a natural look.

#9. Add Natural Beauty to Patios with Boulder Accents

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Boulders for Patios

Incorporate landscape boulders into your patio or paver design to add natural beauty and interest to your outdoor living space. Positioning large, smooth boulders among pavers creates a cohesive look and brings a touch of nature's ruggedness into your garden design. The contrast of gray rock against the patios and pathways draws the eye while providing an organic and earthy feel that enhances the landscape.

#10. Showcase Boulders with Vibrant Plantings

Make a natural stone boulder the focal point of your outdoor space by planting vibrant flowers and foliage around it. Position the boulder in a prominent spot surrounded by garden beds. Choose plants in bright, contrasting colors that complement the neutral tones of the rock and create a natural feel. This creates a striking display that immediately draws the eye while the beautiful shapes and textures of the boulder and plants together add natural beauty to your landscaping with rocks.

#11. Use Special Boulders for Dramatic Effect

When landscaping with large boulders, one or two features can make a particular stone special and capable of creating a dramatic effect. For example, angled boulders may be more fitting for areas of your yard, while smooth boulders may fit better in other areas. Since boulders for landscapes come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, we recommend using a variety to ensure you're creating the best possible landscape features for your home.

#12. Use Landscape Lighting for Dramatic Effect

You can position your landscaping boulders together with the exterior lighting of your home to create striking effects at night, including in your front yard. For example, you can set boulders around your fireplace that'll light up at night to create a striking night vista or you could set the boulders to be the target of pre-set lights that will bring out the rock's unique colors so they sparkle when night falls.

#13. Define Borders with Natural Boulder Walls

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Boulders Walls

Line your flower beds and garden borders with boulders to create a natural retaining wall. Stack boulders along the edges of planting areas to maintain the shape of the bed. This restrains the soil, keeps mulch in place, and prevents erosion. The layered rock landscaping lends a rugged, organic feel that contrasts with the softness of the plants. Boulders of varying shapes, sizes, and colors interspersed along the border make an attractive and practical retaining solution.

#14. Incorporate Boulders as Seating in the Landscape

Strategically place natural stone boulders in your landscape to create impromptu seats and perches. Group rocks and boulders together and position them around gardens, pathways, or water features to provide resting spots. Flat, smooth boulders allow for comfortable seating while rounded tops can act as informal perches. Take advantage of the beautiful texture and color variation boulders add while giving family and guests a place to pause and enjoy the view.

#15. Use Local Rock

Many people that choose to enhance their landscaping with big rocks opt for rocks that are naturally occurring in their area, which gives a design feel that blends in with the surrounding terrain. For example, as a homeowner in Cincinnati or Columbus, you may choose to go for large stones for landscaping that has been sourced from Ohio and surrounding areas.

Shop the Best Boulders at Stone Center!

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Boulders Landscaping Design

Residential landscaping with boulders can transform your exterior in just days, creating incredible curb appeal. We encourage you to work with professional landscapers like Stone Center in Ohio to select classic, statement-making boulders for your property.

With the right placement and arrangements, landscaping boulders from our rich collections will take your landscape design to the next level. For guidance on choosing and incorporating boulders, contact the experts at Stone Center.


How to Use Boulders in Landscaping?

Place complementary large stones for landscaping and plants around the boulder to highlight it. Use curved garden beds, gravel, and low-growing foliage to create a natural look that suits the rugged boulder. The goal is to make it a focal point within an integrated design.

How Do You Transport Larger Boulders?

For larger boulders, contact a landscaping Stone Center or company specializing in stone delivery. They have machinery and trailers designed to safely lift, haul, and lower heavy boulders. For smaller rocks that you can move, use leverage with pry bars and rope or rent a dolly. Take all safety precautions when moving landscaping boulders.

What Are the Best Affordable Rocks for Landscaping?

When incorporating rocks and landscaping boulders on a budget, good affordable options are limestone, sandstone, and fieldstone. Check local quarries for inexpensive rock sold by the ton. For unique local stones, look along creeks or your property. Always inspect rocks for cracks before placing them in your landscape design.


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Jon Smiley

Jon, the owner of Stone Center, is a knowledgeable expert in natural stone products, specializing in various types of stone for landscaping and architectural projects. Passionate about promoting the beauty and versatility of natural stone, Jon aims to use these blogs to inspire readers with creative ideas to upgrade their homes.

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