Part two of our “Landscaping with Boulders” series focuses on choosing a boulder. Once you’ve decided to use boulders in your landscape, the selection process begins. The process of choosing the perfect boulder can be daunting.  In order to make the process easier, we will focus on the following topics:

  • Determining the type of boulders that appeals to you
  • General boulder installation tips
  • Choosing boulder sizes based on the overall landscape design
  • General boulder weights based on dimensions


Choosing the Perfect Boulder

Probably the easiest thing to do is to visit a rock yard and see what’s available with your design in hand. Bring your design, your questions, and maybe your budget, and come visit a landscape supply store like ours. You really need to touch, feel, and see all the options. Feel them for texture, see them for size, shape, and color.

You really want to try them on like shoes, you’re going to be living with them so take the time and effort to find what pleases you aesthetically.

– Michelle McLeod

Boulder Placement

Just as important as the color and shape of your stone is a natural look of stability and permanence in your garden. Using odd numbers of rocks, combining different sizes, and placing your biggest one off-center in your yard will achieve the most natural look. For additional information on boulder placement, visit our blog post “Adding Landscape Boulders to Your Yard.”


Quick Tips on Installation

  • Group your boulders in odd numbers, as well as vary the size. You don’t want to have all one-foot boulders or all two-foot boulders, you’re never going to see that in nature.
  • Stay within a boulder family, and when I say that I mean either by color, or by texture, or by shape. You probably wouldn’t put a round boulder right next to a really jagged boulder, because you really don’t see that very often.

Choosing the Right Size Boulder

If you’re unsure of size, there are a couple of cool little things you can do. Let’s say you are thinking you want a specific size boulder but are unsure of how that might look in your landscape.

  • Take a cardboard box that’s about two feet and put that where you think you want the two-foot boulders to go.
  • Use a large plastic bag and stuff it full of newspaper. You can make various size prototypes to get a better feel for what size boulders you want.

Maureen Gilmer of Landscaping Network explains the downfall of choosing boulders that are too small for your landscape.

“The most common error we see in residential landscapes is using undersized boulders because the weight of larger ones makes them expensive to deliver and place. This is a false economy. In the long run, if the scale is wrong, the rock will disappear into the surrounding landscape.”

– Maureen Gilmer

Below are a few examples of beautiful landscapes that have ONE big issue, the boulders chosen for the landscape are too small and have disappeared due to the surrounding plants.

boulder, rock
boulder, rock

“Boulders don’t grow. You can water them all you want, they’re not going to grow!”

If you’re going to put a one-foot boulder next to a one-gallon plant; next spring you’re going to be wondering where the boulder went because the plant will have grown over it. So take that into account, the relationship versus the size of the boulder.


Average Boulder Weights by Size

A one-foot boulder can probably weigh 80 to 100 pounds, a two-foot boulder could be 300 to 450, a three-foot boulder can weigh anywhere from 1,200 all the way up to 1,800 depending on length, width, and height. We’ve included our boulder weights chart to give you a better idea of boulder weights by size.


boulder, weights

Stay tuned for episodes 3 through 5 of our “Landscaping with Boulders” video series, presented by Michelle McLeod. In the meantime, for additional tips, tricks, and answers to some of your most important questions, contact us today!