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Using Landscape Boulders In Your Yard

What do you think of when you imagine adding more interest to your yard or landscape design? Structures such as decks, patios, and pergolas are one way to go about filling your space. But once these items are in, finding natural ways to create dynamic shapes, color, textures, and materials to your yard can be a challenge. Enter landscape boulders.

Install large boulders to form a retaining wall. Or use several small boulders to add style and a more natural look to your space. No matter how you use them, boulders are a great way to add organic shape and beauty to your backyard.

What are Landscape Boulders?

Not just any rock is a boulder. Landscape boulders are defined as a rock that is larger than 16" in diameter. Above 16", boulders can vary widely, and come in various sizes and shapes depending on the type of stone and cute.

Shape

Typically, boulders in featured projects come in two basic shapes, round and angular. Round boulders are smooth surfaced, with gentle curves and soft edges. They have the look of rock that has been exposed to the erosion by way or water or wind. Rounded edges look like they have slowly weathered into their current shape.

Angular boulders are the opposite. These rocks look as though they have just fractured from a larger wall. They are boxy, with jagged edges and flat faces. Using angular boulders can be a great way to create contrast in landscaping that is full of soft edges.

Material

Both styles of landscape boulders can come in a range of materials. Generally the shape of the boulder is characterized by its material. Round boulders are most commonly made of rock like granite or sandstone. Angular boulders can also be made of these materials, but also often include rocks such as quartzite and basalt.

Color

If you've chosen stone hardscaping for anything from a flagstone patio to a granite countertop, you know that material is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you've decided on the size and style of boulder you needs, you must choose the right color.

Landscape boulders come in all different shades, tones, and colors. Gold, gray, brown, green, tan, even red--the color of your boulder can vary as widely as the size or structure. Rocks come in almost every color of the rainbow. So, you can let go of your idea of a boring, gray boulder sitting at the edge of your yard.

How to choose Landscape Boulders

You've decided you want to incorporate a boulder, or perhaps many boulders, onto your property. Now, selection and installation are all that is left. However, not all boulders make sense in every area of your outdoor living space. The wrong placement, size, or combination of boulders can make the rock look random, as opposed to adding the natural look and feel you're after.

To make a choice you're guaranteed to love, scale and select your landscape boulders based on where they will be installed, and how they will be used. That is, pick the project before your pick your boulders.

Water Features

One of the most common ways to use boulders is in featured projects such as waterfalls or fountains. Here, the boulder can either create the water features entirely, or help to create a nature-inspired look to the landscape.

Larger boulders can be drilled into, becoming the base for the fountain or waterfall itself. Small boulders can form the borders of waterfalls, or serve as a rock or stone studded bottom which water can cascade over as it would in a river or stream.

Retaining Walls & Borders

Sometimes, boulders serve more than an aesthetic purpose. Sometimes, they simply the practical answer to a problem presented by the landscape. If your property is unevenly graded, there's a good chance your backyard or front yard features a hill or slope.

If you are dealing with a sloped landscape, and want to create more usable space, then you need to get creative. One of the most common approaches to this design challenge is to install retaining walls. Retaining walls are walls that hold back the higher area of the landscape from the lower graded area below.

They not only create visual division in your landscaping, but act as a way to protect your landscaping from the forces of erosion. Wind and rain can wreak havoc on a hillside if precautions aren't taken. While retaining walls can be made of materials such as wood or metal, one of the most common choices in landscaping is to build it out of rock, or boulders.

Choosing to use boulders here brings more of the organic landscape back to your backyard. If you are looking to break up manmade material, or add some softness back into your landscaping, this can be a beautiful direction to explore.

Borders

Smaller boulders can also be used as a way to create natural boundaries or borders in your landscape. Create devision between your space's recreational areas and your garden by strategically placing a grouping of boulders. Break up smaller areas of rock or other hardscaping by punctuating the area with a boulder. Use your creativity to bring color, texture, and break up your space organically.

Accents & Features

Finally, if you're not using boulders to build water features or serve a practical purpose in your landscaping, they work great as simple visual accents or features as well. Place small, moss covered boulders in and around your garden. Use a striking piece of granite to cut a statuesque figure in the center of your space. Pair boulders of different sizes in odd numbers or groups of three to draw the eye.

At the end of the day, rock comes in limitless cuts, styles, colors, and designs. Whether your taste is modern or classic, earthy or industrial, there is a way you can incorporate a boulder into your landscape.

Installing Landscape Boulders

If you're taking this as your sign to bring boulders into your landscape design plan, then there are a few things you should know ahead of time. Unlike a lot of other hardscaping material such as gravels, or flat stones such as flagstone or bluestone, moving landscape boulders is tricky. Due to their sheer size and unyielding forms, it's a little more complicate than simply picking them up from the mason and putting them down in your backyard.

Delivery

While you may considering placing boulders to be a DIY job, just the means needed to transport these giant structures can put an ax in that plan. Smaller boulders with a diameter of under two feet may be available for you to move using some of your strongest friends, a truck, and a wheel barrow. However, get larger than that you start to run into problems.

The largest boulders can weigh hundreds of pounds, and be impossible to move without specialized equipment and vehicles intended to load and deliver items such as these. Furthermore, homeowners should never risk personal injury to complete a project in your backyard. When in doubt, call an industry expert!

Installation

Again, installing boulder may take more manpower than you are aware of. From moving the rock around your yard, to burying it, to insuring its stability, visit your local mason or landscape design company to get a second opinion on how you can make the process smoother.

How much do landscape boulders cost?

The cost of a boulder is dependent on a few key things. Where you live, the type of rock, the quantity you need, and the means of delivery. Smaller, more common materials that you can move yourself will cost much less than larger, more expensive stones than need cranes or heavy equipment to install.

Overall, the national average for a boulder is about $110-160 per ton. The heavier and bigger your rock, the more you can expect to pay.

Look Into Landscape Boulders

If you're looking to bring more earth back into your yard, have a practical application in mind, or are just seeking more visual interest, boulders can be a great way to achieve this. While boulders are more affordable than constructed structures such as patios or pergolas, they are not always the DIY that you may be imagining. Beyond that, simply placing a rock in your yard isn't automatically going to make your space look great.

For the best results, consult a professional for more information or get a second opinion. With a vast selection of colors, shapes, and sizes, there's a landscape boulder that will look incredible in your yard.

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