Real vs Artificial Garden Rock: 5 Projects

A garden rock waterfall.

When you want to build water projects in your garden, a rock wall, or disguise unsightly utility boxes, consider the merits of artificial versus real rock for these projects as discussed here.

1. Garden Waterfalls

Artificial rock is made of synthetic water-resistant material that does not crack. Its lightweight, even when filled, which means it will not settle. The water pipes and the layout of the water channel will remain as originally placed.

2. Wildlife Pond

Faux stone around the edge of your pond will keep its shape and color. It will resist discoloration from algae or other materials growing in your pond. It will prevent leakage of the pond water into your lawn or garden soil. As it is a smooth polymer, artificial rock will not wear down or flake, like real rock does with its granular structure. Manufacturers of artificial rock can create layered "cliffs" that are all one piece, so there is no slippage or heaving from frost. Install artificial rock containers at the bottom of the pool to plant the long root structures of water lilies and other aquatic plants.

3. Cave in a Wildlife Pond

Fish love to shelter in a cave away from sunlight and other denizens of the pond. It would be nearly impossible to create a permanent cave with real rocks in your wildlife pond. A cave made out of genuine rock would be difficult to remove from the pond, for drainage and cleaning. Another advantage of faux rock is that it does not draw and retain heat like real rocks. The rock structures in and around the pond stay cool, and keep the water around the fish at a livable temperature, even on a scorching summer day.

4. Disguise Utility Boxes in Your Yard

The loveliest garden vista, accented by a charming water feature, can be ruined by an immovable, rigid metal monolith used for hydro, cable, or other utilities. Get the measurements of those eyesores and conceal them with well-fitted and secured artificial rocks. Release the staple-shaped pins holding the rocks down, to enable inspection of the cable box or hydrometer in seconds.

Real rocks heaped or stacked around these utility boxes could damage them, not to mention the bother of having to tear down the camouflage by hand at a few minutes' notice.

5. Rock Walk

Create an outdoor rock walk for your children and their friends. Line up artificial rocks on a path that looks like those found along the seashore or in a desert. The rocks, when filled and stabilized, will not shift, crack, or chip as your children hop across them and clamber over them. Your children can bump into and fall off the soft-surfaced artificial rocks without a scrape.

Artificial rocks have one more advantage over real rocks: low cost. You can create an entire rock garden or wildlife pond for less than the cost and effort of moving one 2 ton boulder into your backyard. Simply repaint your rocks when you want marble or sandstone instead of granite.