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Natural Stone Boulders for Outdoor Living Spaces

Updated: May 17

stone boulders in the landscape next to a stone walkway leading to a patio

Natural stone products add style, elegance, and value to any home property and are among the most long-lasting ways you can add visual impact to your outdoor living spaces. When incorporating natural stone boulders and rocks into your patio or pool deck design, there is the added benefit of not having to do any maintenance for them. They will remain as beautiful as the day you had them installed…for a lifetime.

Where to Use Natural Stone Boulders for Hardscapes

Steps and Stepping Paths

Natural stone boulders next to stone steps

A more natural-looking alternative to concrete steps is to use guillotined steps and stepping paths. Another alternative to using man-made materials is to have your steps created from natural quarry stone slabs. These stone slabs can be embedded into a hillside or slope to give homeowners a safe way to get from one area of the property to another while keeping the look and feel of your property more natural.

Patio Seating Areas

Natural stone boulders in a stamped concrete patio sitting area with red Adirondack chairs

A natural boulder or rock wall can also double as a seating area for overflow seating in a patio or pool deck area, and also around fire pits. This seating wall can also be used as a sort of “ledge” around gardens or other landscaped areas.

Front Yard Entryways

Drive up to a home with a well-designed landscape using natural stone boulders is a show-stopper. It can amp your home’s curb appeal to enormous levels. Although, designing your entryway with large boulders and rocks can be tricky if they are not incorporated into your front yard properly. If your stone boulders are too small or just randomly dropped around your landscaping haphazardly, you may not be taking advantage of their full design potential. Read on to learn some tips and ideas for creating stunning hardscapes using natural stone boulders.

Natural stone boulder used as diving rock with an outdoor in-ground swimming pool

Boulder Design Ideas

Use Boulders in Groups

Using only one, large, stone boulder might look out of place. One design strategy for creating a boulder grouping is to place two boulders very near each other, or even touching, and then add a third nearby.

Set Each Boulder Into the Ground

In a natural setting, boulders wouldn’t sit on top of dirt looking like they are hovering there. Instead, only the top portion of the rock is revealed, and a portion of the rock in set under ground level. To create a more natural look, boulders should always be set a few inches below grade level. Of course, the size and shape of the boulder will dictate exactly how deep it should be buried.

Don't be Afraid to Go BIG

Large natural stone boulder walls

“When you are at the rock yard, it is easy to think that a boulder is large enough. However, when you get it to your property it can look dwarfed by your landscape,” says Bowen. He recommends selecting a boulder that may at first appear too big, it will likely be just right once it is placed.

Lighting Up the Night

Incorporating lights into your boulder hardscape design provides a stunning focal point for your home after dark. Using a spotlight, uplighting, or backlighting on your boulder design will add an upscale ambiance to your hardscape at night. Which boulders you are lighting is as important as how you light them. A good rule of thumb is, if your boulders are not intentionally designed to act as focal points during the day, it’s probably not a good design strategy to light them at night. Another consideration is the color of your lighting. Be sure to use lights that offer a ‘warm-colored glow’ rather than a harsh, stark blue-white light. If you are looking for a silhouette effect for your boulders, try uplighting a tree behind your boulder grouping.

Natural stone boulders and rocks in a hardscape next to a stone stairway and patio

Hiring the Right Contractor Makes All the Difference

Lifting and moving these massive stone boulders is no simple feat and is not safe when taken on by homeowners. A qualified contractor has the proper equipment for setting large slabs. This also gives the homeowner more options to create the hardscape of their dreams since they are not limited to smaller rocks.

At Gruttadaurio Masonry, we can manage all aspects of the boulder and rock selection, design, placement, and installation. For us, every natural stone project is a one-of-a-kind work of art. If you are ready to begin the process of creating an outdoor living area using beautiful, natural boulders and rock slabs in your Rochester, NY, home, let’s connect. Call us at (315) 310-7193 and set up a time to meet so we can talk about your project.


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