Tips On Selecting and Installing Landscaping Rock and Boulders


Question: We’re looking to buy large rocks to add to our current front yard landscape project.

Any tips you can offer on selecting rocks and using them in the landscape? Pam, Athens, Georgia

Answer: Pam, before you buy any good-sized stone to place in your landscape, step back and decide exactly what you want to accomplish.

Incorporating natural stone in your design can add depth and texture – even in small areas. Rock and stone come in many different forms, kinds, textures, colors, shapes, and sizes.

Different designs will require different sizes and types to achieve the look you want – everything from small natural stone steps, or used as an accent on a path or big boulders permanently placed in the landscape.

Success with Rocks and Stones

For successful incorporation of big stones in a landscape design, they should be placed where they add to the yard and become a focal point.

Don’t place them in an area you’re trying to disguise, cover up, or hide things. Each boulder needs to be placed with a purpose for:

  • Looks
  • Design
  • Balance

Plan ahead of time exactly where each stone will be placed for the ultimate best effect. Also when choosing large rocks look to local materials.

Related Reading: 30+ Garden Edging Ideas

Make Natural Stone Look Natural

Never drop a boulder down and consider the landscape placement done!

You’ll achieve a much more natural look if you take a little extra time to bury the rock. This makes it look “planted” and blend in with the overall landscape.

How far should you bury a large stone in the ground?

The depth depends upon the overall rock chosen.

As a rule, large boulders would be planted deeper than smaller-sized ones. 4″ to 6″ inches is a good general depth for a base to be buried.

Dig an area out slightly larger than the size of the base, then place the rock into it. Next, backfill some dirt into the spot around the base, and you are done.

Tips on Selecting and Using Landscape Rocks: Video

There is more to landscaping rock than big boulders, stone, and gravel, filling in beds, or walking on. It’s what is called the “hardscape.”

In this video, you’ll get some landscaping ideas on the types of rock and stone available for use along with some tips on how to select and use rock and stone.


Rocks Add Character

Spending the time to find the right rock can make the difference between one that looks OK in the landscape to one that stops people in their tracks.

Look at the picture of a rock at the very top simply placed between two cycads. This rock used in the front yard landscape graces the entrance to a doctor’s office and makes “potential” clients stop.

What does the rock look like to you? I think it looks like a cat!

Think About Placement

When you are out looking to buy rock make sure you consider the size, weight, and placement in YOUR landscape.

Often the cost of the rock is not as much as delivery and placement.

Ask yourself:

  • How will the rock get to its ultimate destination in the landscape?
  • Will special equipment like a loader or bobcat be needed to place the boulder?
  • If so – can the equipment maneuver or destroy anything when placing the rock?

Once you’ve selected the rock(s) you plan on purchasing – ask yourself does it have a face?

By that I mean, does it have a side or face that would or should be displayed when placed in it final destination.

Stop to think about what large boulders and stones look like in nature and try to imitate the look.

The next time you’re out walking or hiking keep an eye out for any large rocks used in the landscape or nature.

Notice how they sit on the ground. Then try to make the rock you select look just as natural in your landscape.

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