Faux DIY Rocks & Boulders? Yes, Please!

Y’all, don’t even ask about my pendant light. I can’t even go there today. Just know that when it’s done, I’ll show you. Until then, I don’t even want to talk about it. What I do want to talk about is faux rocks and boulders! Specifically DIY faux rocks and boulders!! Until a few days ago, I didn’t even know one could DIY a faux rock or boulder. I mean, had I given it some thought, I would have guessed that there certainly has to be a way to DIY such a thing. But I had never even thought about it. But now, thanks to my mom, it’s all I can think about. It’s all I want to think about. So let me back up a bit and explain.

My mom has been working nonstop on her back yard for what seems like weeks now. The back area of her yard along the back fence is shaded, and her St. Augustine grass doesn’t grow well back there. Plus, her neighbor behind her has done this crazy thing with the fence, and they painted their building (storage building?) this ugly burnt orange color. So my mom has been on the lookout for plants that will either climb or grow high and wide to cover all of that up. Plus, since her grass wasn’t growing well in the shade, she has marked off a large area at the back along the entire width of the back fence (only about half of which can be seen in this photo below) as a planting bed. She has marked it off with a curvy design using some sort of edging product, pulled up all of the grass back there, and is in the process of adding plants.

So she’s been sharing her ideas with me, but because plants and landscaping aren’t in my wheelhouse, I just didn’t have vision for it. I even went with her to the nursery to buy something that would grow high and wide to cover up that view of that orange building, but beyond that, I didn’t really have any input for her because I just don’t have vision for stuff like that.

Then she sent a video and said it was a must watch video because this man has the most beautiful planting beds, and if I’m not mistaken, almost all of the plants he used will grow in our zone. This is the video from the S & K Greenhouse YouTube channel that she sent, and I agree with her. It’s a must watch! I learned so much from watching this. And I just loved seeing how he planted things in groups in his beds. But what really caught my eye was his use of rocks in the planting beds. They’re not used as the border for the bed itself. They’re used as rows of decoration within the beds, like this…

And here’s another screenshot…

And here’s another view.

You see what I mean? I just love how he uses rocks inside his planting beds.

And then here’s one final screenshot. But seriously, go watch the entire video. The whole thing is so inspiring.

So the two things that really stuck out to me were (1) how he planted things in groups, and (2) his use of rocks within the planting beds. As far as planting things in groups, he said that his advice is not to be afraid to plant things too close together. He said he’ll plant ten of one plant in a group to get that impact that he likes.

I learned a lot from him, and after watching the tour of his yard, I felt like I had more vision for what my mom wanted to do in the back area of her yard where she has now pulled up all of the grass to create a large area for plants. But the only thing we’ve really talked about for that area is plants. So I texted her and said, “After watching that video, I think you need to add some rocks to your back yard fence area, and then find some of those low growing plants that he had in mounds around the rocks. That was so pretty!”

She responded that she wondered how much that would cost, but I didn’t have any idea. (I have since learned that rocks and boulders can cost anywhere from $150 to $600 per ton, depending on the type of rock, the size(s), etc.) And also, she didn’t think she could lift a bunch of rocks and put them in place, so that would be something she’d have to hire out.

And then, the next thing I know, she’s sending me videos about making your own DIY rocks and boulders! At first, I thought it was a crazy idea. There were a couple of videos that I honestly wasn’t that impressed with. One person used spray foam as the base, but didn’t try to shape it at all before covering it with concrete, so the end result looked like a huge gray cow patty. That’s not exactly something I’d want in my yard or next to my pretty flowers. 😀

But then I watched the video from this guy from the YouTube channel Faux Rock Training, and oh my goodness, I was impressed!! He has several different methods for making faux rocks and boulders, but the main one he teaches is to start with cardboard boxes as the base…

And then, he uses fiberglass reinforced concrete, some type of mesh for more reinforcement, paint, sealer, etc., and he ends up with these amazing faux rocks! Just look at this one…

If that were a real solid rock, can you even imagine how heavy it would be? I mean, wherever the landscaping company dropped it off, that’s where it would have to live forever, because it would be too heavy for me to move around on a whim. But because these are hollow, they’re relatively light, and can be moved around as needed.

Here’s one that he made with a different technique, but it’s completely hollow inside. He picked it up and moved it around on the video (which you can see here).

And you can see that it has a hole in the top because it’s actually used as a fountain…

Here’s a screenshot of a few that were made with the cardboard box method…

And then this one that he’s pointing to in this screenshot is a faux rock (completely hollow inside) that he made to look like the real rocks in this area.

Anyway, as you can probably imagine, my mind is now spinning. All I’ve really wanted to do for the last three days is make faux rocks and boulders. I’m trying to stay focused on my studio and getting it finished, but you better believe that as soon as I have the opportunity, I’ll be outside, elbow deep in concrete, making faux rocks. I won’t be throwing away any cardboard boxes in the near future.

 

 

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21 Comments

  1. This is genius! I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to justify buying huge boulders that I then can’t move. I wonder how these would stand up to Midwest storms?

    1. It’s concrete, so I would imagine that it will stand up to just about any weather. And if it gets a little cracked and weathered, all the better! It’ll just give it a more natural look.

    2. I wonder the same too. I live in South Dakota and winds coming off the prairies can be wicked so I’d probably have to make sure they would be heavy enough to not get blown around!

      1. My mom and I were talking about a way to make them so that they the small ones stay put in really strong winds. I had the idea of embedding some hardware cloth under the layers of concrete, and having that stick out a bit on the bottom. Then the hardware cloth could be secured to the ground using landscaping stakes or J-hook anchors or something like that. Then the hardware cloth could be covered with mulch to hide it.

  2. We just got rid of so many cardboard boxes, once gone I could walk through my garage. Now I wish I had seen this video before that. The faux rocks are exactly what I need for my yard and garden beds.

  3. You’re spinning mind is spinning in the right direction. All of the learning from listening to other people and researching everything on what you learn is the very best way to get into gardening, whether you’re going for flowers, trees, and shrubs…to vegetable gardening. There are so many ways to enhance the beauty of our gardens with using rocks, decor, water features, and benches in with the flowers and shrubs. Keep going in this direction and learning everything about soil prepping, drainage, water, sun and shade, plant care and needs…and you will be well on your way to creating your first bed. Keep a journal on what your learn. Good Luck on getting your hands dirty and creating your beautiful yard.

    1. The man in the video showed his composting piles, and told how he made his compost and then how he uses it. I’ve never been so excited about compost in my life! 😀

  4. Faux is never a bad way to go. A few years ago, we had to have the house appraised and the lady that came out kept making snide remarks about the 5-gallon bucket that was over the well head. Well, we bought the house with the bucket over the well head, and it didn’t give us any grief. I purchased a $60 fake boulder, and the price of the evaluation went up almost $100K… talk about stupid. Here is a good website that deals with aircrete…this stuff is amazing. We are thinking about adding a little Hobbit House to an upper field for me to have a little “pout” house. Here is their site… https://domegaia.com/?_kx=34o9nFWm4yMVyobqDdhXYHnJwY2UxEq2mtD9zlkhrvE.XhqeZs
    This is so exciting and cannot wait to see what your mom decides on. Arborvitae and Thuja are types of trees that stay green all year long and grow at a good rate. They grow here in East Tennessee without much trouble, but not sure about Texas, perhaps there is a variety that can take the heat.
    Have fun and start saving those Amazon boxes.
    Cheers!

  5. I cannot wait to see what you do with this. This will be a very interesting change but much enjoyed. I have already sent your blog link to a friend I went to school with who loves working in his yard. So can’t wait to see what he does with it also…thanks Kristi for this link.

  6. Oh my, another rabbit hole to go down for me too lol – I love this faux rock guy!! I purchased a faux rock to cover our septic tank cover in the back yard of our Texas house, but it’s not quite big enough. Now I want to try one of these!! I also love the house number ‘rocks’ he made – I’d love something like that at the entrance to our Arizona home. Now I’m off to OD on his videos lol.

  7. I will watch the videos after this, because I KNOW it will lead me to a few hours later into all sorts of YouTube-ery!!! LOL! But just wanted to mention that I hope Mom chooses plants for low light, as the area she is working on has no sun! That severely limits her choices. Even many evergreens need sun to thrive. A Hosta garden would be lovely, but not as tall as the fence, so maybe a shade loving evergreen. Or she could maybe create an art installation to block that shed!!! Possibly a Mosaic would look very nice!

  8. The garden video was wonderful and so educational. I certainly enjoyed it. I made my husband watch it also. The faux rock video wasn’t as interesting, but I gave my son the YouTube address so he could watch it. He loves rocks and he is very creative. I can see how you are anxious to shut the Studio door and head outside. Too bad it isn’t earlier in the spring. Of course we were floating away, and still are, here in Waco. I keep thinking next year I get more outdoorsy. I just always have an excuse like you and your upholstery. Anyway, it will do you good to get some fresh (hot) air to give you a break from your studio.
    Love your blog.

  9. Kristi, I. love your blog for many reasons, but what sets you apart from many others, is that you not only post detailed instructions for your projects, but you also post the fails that many of us can relate to. When I get frustrated over things that don’t go as planned, I think of you and how failures happen can even occur to a seasoned pro.
    BTW, I found some items that might be the answer to your lihjt shade.
    I googled “Supplies for making your own fishing lures” I found the little gold & silver spoons used on lures. Even found some with a thin wire which could be used to secure one ring to the next one. The best prices were on Temu, but I sure there’s numerous sources out there. Tried, but could copy the link

  10. These are amazing Kristi!
    But with our monsoon winds in Arizona, which took out an 80’ tree in ‘22, I fear they’d fly all over the neighborhood and people screaming INCOMING!!
    But I’m so impressed with the realism.