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Creating Signature Designs: How To Place Large Boulders in a Poolscape

Adding a few tons of rock to a poolscape could be massively rewarding or disastrous, depending on how you go about installing them.

Large boulders add texture, colors, focal points and natural elements to poolscape projects. You can even orient them to guide the viewer’s eyes toward certain garden elements and create a balance among all of the landscape’s features.

But before you and your clients can enjoy the aesthetic value of large boulders, you have to first figure out the best and safest way to place them in a poolscape — while avoiding common mistakes.

So, let's discuss how to place large boulders in a poolscape.

Keep It Natural

How to place large boulders

Large boulders can bring the wow factor to poolscapes, but to do that, they need to be installed correctly.

When placing the boulders, start with the largest focal-point boulders. Use a primary boulder and then scale down to smaller-sized boulders.

The most important thing is to make sure the boulders look like they belong there and have been in the landscape forever. To do that, place them at various distances and heights from each other.

You should also group them in odd numbers, since that’s how they would appear in nature.

Make sure the boulders are stable when installing them. You can do that by burying the stones in the ground so that they are not resting on the surface. That will keep them from falling over and also make them look like they belong there.

Once you've figured out how to place large boulders, they should be leveled and not leaning on each other. If you choose and set the boulders correctly, you shouldn’t need additional materials to hold them in place.

When you add the boulders will depend on the project and site. On some projects, it may work best to bring them onto the site before the pool work begins. That can help eliminate damage to the ongoing construction.

Right Tools for the Job

place large boulders

You’ll need equipment to transport and move the large boulders.

Depending on the boulder’s weight and the property’s size, you could use a crane, backhoe or skid steer loader.

Make sure the equipment you choose can handle the weight before attempting to lift the stone.

Also, keep the equipment’s bucket as low as possible when transporting to prevent tipping.

With construction equipment, there’s bound to be some unavoidable property damage, so be sure to explain that to the customer, and let them know the site will be restored to its pre-construction condition.

You should also include what the clients can expect to see with the finished product in the contract.

Stay Safe

Place large boulders in a poolscape

Placing large boulders can pose several safety concerns, so it’s important for you and your crew to be proactive to prevent injuries.

Everyone on the site should wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes steel-toed boots and long pants.

You’ll also need to have a spotter that works with the equipment operator to get the boulder in the correct place safely.

You should also warn clients about any potential safety hazards and advise them to keep their pets and children away from the areas.

What Not To Do

large pool with large boulders placed in deck

Make sure your boulders look natural by avoiding these four costly mistakes.

Do not mix various types of boulders in the poolscape, as it will lose its continuity and look unnatural.

Make sure you don’t place the boulders on top of the deck or ground. Boulders don’t sit on top of the ground — they are planted into it.

Another common mistake is using undersized boulders, even though smaller ones are less expensive and easier to deliver and place. You need to use boulders that fit in well with the space and draw people’s attention.

You should also avoid placing a boulder by itself. It’s rare to see just one boulder by itself in a natural setting, as they usually exist in groups of varying shapes and sizes linked by the same material.

View It Before You Do It

The best way to envision how to place large boulders in the landscape is by adding them to your design using 3D pool software like Pool Studio.

You and the client will be able to see how the boulders look from different angles, at day or night, with various plants and in the overall poolscape design.

You can also figure out your plan of attack for how you’ll transport and place the boulders by looking at the landscape on the digital design.


Noah Nehlich

About the author: Noah Nehlich

Noah Nehlich is the founder of Structure Studios. As an entrepreneur, investor, and tech company enthusiast, he’s into everything 3D. With two decades of experience building the design software that pool and landscape designers use, Noah’s goal is to improve lives through 3D experiences.

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