Landscaping with Boulders IDEAS
Image by Markus Baumeler from Pixabay

Landscaping with Boulders IDEAS


  1. Choose the boulder(s).
    • Select a boulder from either on your property or somewhere close. The weight and logistics of moving large boulders will make long distance moves very expensive.
    • Chose the kind and color of rocks naturally found in your area to make the boulder look more natural in the environment.
    • Make sure the boulder is proportional to where it will be placed. Small yards shouldn’t have huge boulders laid in them and large expanses of property look silly with small rocks placed in the center of them.
    • Chose more than one boulder in odd quantities, (i.e. 3, 5, 7, etc.) and lay them in groups for the most natural look.
  2. Check for laws and permission.
    • Check with the local government and any homeowners association you belong to and find out if there are any laws or rules that would restrict where you could place a boulder.
    • Get permission for the boulder placement from a landlord if you have one.
    • Make sure the location you are considering is on your property, and that it is not in an easement or shared access route.
  3. Select the location.
    • Make sure that there is a clear route to move the boulder into the location, taking into account the type of equipment that will be needed to move the boulder, if it will have room to maneuver or if it would damage driveways or a septic field.
    • Locate any underground lines, pipes, septic tanks or fields; large boulders should not be placed over them.
    • Check to determine whether the desired placement will restrict access to public utility lines or access by emergency personnel.
    • Think about future plans for the property and if the boulder placement would restrict them. This is important if large boulders will be near buildings or pools.
  4. Mark the location. Use stakes, chalk lines, hose or rope to mark off the location, size and shape of the boulder or group of boulders.
  5. Prepare the site for the boulder.
    • Remove any sod or vegetation from your marked area.
    • Remove approximately 2” of soil from the marked area where the boulder will rest and look nestled into the environment. This also keeps the stone from moving out of place.
  6. Move the boulder or boulders into place. Make sure to have the correct and safest type of equipment to move a boulder.
    • Roll smaller boulders into place with a few friends’ help.
    • Use a roller bar system or a winch on a truck to move larger boulders.
    • Hire or rent large earth moving or special rock moving equipment for the largest boulders.
  7. Landscape the boulders to further integrate them into the environment.
    • Think about how plants would grow around your group of boulders in a natural setting. You want the boulders to seem nested in their environment.
    • Good landscape choices for planting near boulders are low maintenance perennials and specimen plants that draw the eye to the group.
    • Keep the planting in scale to the boulders. Huge boulders need small trees and shrubs, not low growing ground covers. Smaller rocks look best with plants that don’t overwhelm them.

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  • Different rocks of the same size may weigh different amounts, depending on what type of rocks they are.
  • Rocks have more than one “face”. Some sides of the boulder may be more attractive than others. Consider marking which side of the boulder you want to face in which direction with a piece of chalk before you move the boulder into place.
  • Most people greatly underestimate how much a rock weighs. Consult a landscaper who works with boulders regularly when you are considering moving large boulders. This way, you won’t overload the equipment you are considering using to move the boulder, which could wreck the equipment or cause a serious accident.


  • Do not lay large boulders under the drip lines of trees. This may compact the soil and kill the tree.
  • Keep children and pets away from boulder moving operations.
  • Look overhead for power lines when using equipment to lay boulders that will lift up some portion of the machine.
  • Wear a back brace and heavy work gloves whenever you will be moving rocks by hand.


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