Natural Stone is Something that Simply Cannot be Replicated
There are a myriad of concrete product lines that closely mimic natural landscaping rocks, but there is a warmth and charming randomness that is impossible to repeat. Until recent advancements in technology, and even since, the most high-end product choice for your landscape project has been natural stone.
Featured Landscaping Rocks
Dimensional Bluestone Patios
Curbstone Retaining Walls
Column Rock Water Features
Dimensional Slab Steps
Thin Split Veneer
Gravel and River Rock Mulch
Landscape Boulders are Unique
Concrete manufacturers compete well against many natural stone options, but they cannot compete in the arena of accent boulders. Natural basalt boulders are massive, not only by weight… but also in complexity and uniqueness. After ages of formation, cleaving and aging… natural basalt boulders are harvested for landscape applications. Natural stone can transpose new landscapes into their surroundings more believably, and strategically placing boulders can greatly enhance landscape appeal. Using natural stone must be done in a convincing way… or it can stick out like a sore thumb.
Considerations for Using Natural Stone Landscape Boulders
Installation logistics for landscape boulders
A two-foot wide, deep and tall boulder can weigh upwards of 500 to 800 bounds. If boulder placement is to be in a front yard… it may be able to be rolled out of the bed of a truck into the desired location. Placements on a hillside, or at the back end of a property can be tricky, however. Heavy machinery is the best way to mobilize large stone, and with experience, placement can even be done with a forked piece of equipment and a strap… or even with the bucket and thumb of an excavator arm. When logistics are difficult, it is usually best to employ a talented team of professionals, not only for safety reasons, but the end-product usually turns out much better as well.
Proper selection of natural stone
Material selection is something that shouldn’t be done lightly either. The style of landscape being altered or enhanced, should be considered, i.e. formal vs. informal. Water features generally include more softened accent boulders. Whereas planting beds lend themselves to more aged product with moss on them, and unique nooks and crannies can juxtapose blades of grass and leaves. Boulders in and around retaining walls need to be more structural and tend to be blockier.
Landscaping Rocks Best Practices
An easy best practice that many never consider when placing boulders, only adds one more step to the process. A product like Hood River Moss boulders are great as accents in and amongst a planting bed, but weekend-warriors cannot just ‘plop’ the boulder directly on the ground. When ‘planting’ boulders as accents, a depression needs to be excavated to bury anywhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of the boulder. Landscape professionals refer to this as ‘anchoring’. This tactic is also best done BEFORE plantings occur, so the risk of squashing plant materials is negated.
Ask a Local Landscape Professional
A favorite of local landscape designer, Tim Sellin of Drake’s 7 Dees, is to identify any concave sides to a boulder… and placing it toward the sky, to trap water in it… kind of like a natural bird bath! Often, man-made bird baths don’t match the surrounding landscape, but a properly placed Columbia River Basalt boulder… nestled in close to a nearby Evergreen Huckleberry can provide a cool-off spot for native fauna, but also a quick bite to eat.
PS – Another Pro-Tip
When adding basalt landscape boulders to your landscape is to use odd number quantities when grouping stones… not that individual placements are bad, but varying the size and quantity of boulders makes the enhancement more realistic. Picking and sticking to a natural stone choice (basalt, quartz, sandstone, etc.) and repeating it throughout the landscape can marry various natural stone accents and make a design more cohesive.