Complete landscape design can be a major undertaking, especially when it comes to heavy-lifting tasks such as incorporating big rocks into landscaping. Knowing where to get big rocks will save you time, money, and steps in the planning process.
If you’re wondering where to get big rocks for your landscaping project, you might be surprised to learn you can get them at home improvement stores, local rock quarries, landscaping supply stores, and areas where construction is underway. Let’s dig up some more information on the topic.
Types of Big Rocks
When we’re talking about big rocks, there are two ways of defining the phrase. The first is to identify them by a different name--boulders. Boulders are those massive rocks that weigh hundreds or even thousands of pounds. They can make a dynamic focal point in a yard or offer functional support. More on that below.
Other big rocks will seem small when compared to boulders, yet large compared to gravel. By this definition, big rocks may be known by several names, but we’re talking about rocks that are at least several inches in diameter.
If you picture a dry river bed, there will be pebbles, medium-sized rocks, and larger rocks in the landscape. If we pluck out the largest selections, we’ll have what we’re referring to here as big rocks.
Why Add Boulders to Your Landscape
As mentioned, there are two primary reasons you might use boulders in your landscaping. The first is for aesthetic appeal. Boulders are a natural material, even if they didn’t naturally occur in your yard. Inasmuch, we are drawn to their presence.
Because boulders are so captivating, they naturally take center stage anywhere they are visible. For this reason, boulders in a flower bed or on a hillside will automatically draw eyes in that direction.
A few carefully-placed rocks can mean the difference between a boring landscape and a dynamic one. Homeowners and businesses use boulders to highlight certain aspects of the landscaping design. For example, a resort might place boulders near the entrance to draw attention to the hotel’s sign.
At a residential level, the same effect is achieved around water features, rock gardens, or formal plantings.
The second primary use of boulders is for foundational support. Few materials offer stronger support than boulders. You’ll often see them moved into place and packed with dirt within landscaping designs.
Boulders work effectively to raise land where needed or to act as a retaining wall on slopes.
Why Use Large Rocks in Your Landscape
Other types of large rocks are used for a variety of reasons too. Again, they offer an appealing visual draw. For example, large rocks can be used for a dry river bed meandering down a slope or across a portion of the yard. The contrast against other elements of the landscape acts as a magnet for the eye.
Then again, there’s no reason the riverbed has to be dry. Large rocks are also a premier choice for areas with water features since they provide large surface areas for water to travel across.
Large rocks are also a functional element, especially when effective drainage is required. While they help control mud and dust, the rocks keep water from pooling where it’s not wanted.
What Do Boulders and Big Rocks Cost?
If you’re looking for big rocks to incorporate into your landscape, you’ll need to consider both material and delivery costs. Expect to pay $200-$600 for boulder delivery. The boulders themselves will start at a few hundred dollars each.
If you have a truck, you can haul large rocks by the yard or half-yard, depending on the weight your rig can handle. Remember, rocks are very heavy, therefore hard on the suspension of any vehicle. Loading rocks into the bed of a pickup can also cause damage to the bed and sides of the truck.
If you’re having rocks delivered to your home, be aware that dumping them can cause damage to asphalt and even concrete driveways. Ask about suggestions for protecting your surface when you call in your order.
Some companies offer a discount for quantity. For example, one-half yard of large rocks might start at a $30 fee, but a five yard delivery is free.
When coordinating delivery of boulders, be sure to ask about the truck that will deliver. It could be a dump truck or even a long-haul flatbed. Ensure you have access for the truck upon arrival and discuss how it will be unloaded.
Again, you may be able to have the rock loaded into the bed of your own vehicle. In this case, ensure you know the approximate weight of the rock or rocks. Also have a plan for unloading it at the other end of the journey.
Where to Find Big Rocks for Your Landscape
So you have a plan for what type of rocks you want and you have a list of questions ready. Now you need to find them.
Home Improvement Stores
Start at your local Home Depot, Lowe’s, or other home improvement store. You’ll likely find a variety of bagged large rocks and likely some bulk options too.
These stores cater to every need of the homeowner, including landscaping design, so they often have access to large boulders and a way to deliver them to your jobsite. Ask around.
The same goes for nurseries, but they're a mixed bag. Smaller nurseries probably only grow plants and may or may not deliver. Larger nurseries combine plants with other landscaping materials, like rocks. You may find bays of bark and rock outdoors.
While gravel and bark are the most common findings, they may have large rocks as well.
Since larger nurseries have trucks for transporting plants, bark chips, and other materials, they may also offer delivery of big rocks.
Nurseries may also have boulders you can buy and haul home or have delivered for a fee.
If you have a nearby rock quarry, it might be the best place to start when seeking out boulders and other large rocks for your landscaping needs.
Rock quarries specialize in rock. They directly remove rocks from the earth, in all sizes and shapes. There may be piles of ready-to-haul rocks or you may need to discuss your needs.
If you don’t have access to a regional quarry, you can have boulders or rocks of any size transported to your jobsite from anywhere in the country.
Note that this is an expensive endeavor, but one worth looking into, especially if you need a large quantity and don’t have a way to transport them yourself.
Landscape Supply Shops
Next on the list is landscape supply shops. These businesses are the wrecking yard for all things stone, sand, and other natural materials. The larger the landscape material supplier is, the more selection they are likely to have, so start in your neighborhood but look at your options in nearby cities too.
Earth movers on construction sites are busy pulling rocks and boulders from the ground. If they don’t have a use for them as foundational support or their own landscaping design, they may be looking for someone to take them off their hands.
If you know of any type of construction happening in your city, hit up the project planner or construction site boss for information. You just might luck out and find exactly what you’re looking for.
While you’re there, put on your virtual DIY hat and you might source other materials for projects you have in the home improvement planning stages. Construction jobs require managing waste, so if you’re willing to haul it away, they’re likely willing to let you have it.
The same holds true for road work projects. In order to put in new roads, crews use explosives to clear paths through hillsides. Even on flat land, clearing in preparation for road work churns up rocks. Ask around.
When farmers are clearing land for crops, it’s common to come across a plethora of rocks in the process. Small to large, they’re more valuable to you as a landscape material than they are to the farmer looking for enriched soil.
When you see or hear about agricultural endeavors in your area, reach out and offer to take boulders or big rocks off their hands as they are uncovered.
Perhaps one of the best modern community resources is online marketplaces. While it has the phrase “market” in the name, oftentimes products are offered for free too.
Start with the Facebook marketplace. You don’t have to have a Facebook account to access the marketplace. Run searches for rocks, boulders, landscaping supplies, etc. You can adjust the settings for the distance you’re willing to travel and refine your search if there are copious options.
If you find what you’re looking for, message the seller to discuss any questions you may have. If they provide a number, you can call or text instead.
Be respectful of the seller's time and only inquire if you’re serious about the product they’re offering. Also be reliable by showing up when you agree upon a time.
Craigslist is another ubiquitous online resource for finding landscaping products such as big rocks. Businesses and individuals post on the site in the same way they do on the Facebook Marketplace.
You can reach out via a secure message that comes through as an email while hiding your email address to avoid spam. If you’re not sure about the product, you can ask for additional pictures, size measurements, etc.
If you find the perfect big rocks for your landscaping project, make a plan for pickup or delivery. It may be worth your effort to go see the rocks, even if the seller will deliver. You do not want him or her to go through the effort of loading and hauling only to find out it’s not the size or look you wanted or expected.
Another way to use social media to source big rocks is through asking your community. Hop back onto Facebook and join community groups such as “‘mycity’ happenings’” or “what’s going on in ‘mycity’”, or “‘mycity’ people”.
You can also join groups focused on landscape design, DIY landscape projects, or professional nurseries and landscaping companies to find out where people are finding boulders and big rocks.
Another free resource is called Nextdoor. Run a search and find a group located near you. After joining, ask for recommendations.
If you know any landscaping or general contractors, they are a phenomenal source for finding big rocks for your landscape. For projects where you’ve already hired a general contractor, they will take care of all aspects of finding, delivering, and placing big rocks.
However, if you’re managing it on your own, you can call around to a handful of well-established contracting companies to ask for recommendations.
If you don’t have the means to source real rocks but still want the appearance of a boulder as a focal point in your landscape, consider faux rocks.
While it might not be what you had in mind when you started looking, faux rocks are lightweight and easy to transport and set upright. You can even mail order them for delivery directly to your home.
You can stack them without heavy equipment and many have a realistic print that realistically resembles the real thing.
Know What You’re Looking For
Once you begin searching the internet or calling around for quotes, you’ll find out pretty quickly that you’ll need to be ready to provide some basic information.
So before you pick up the phone or start scrolling internet results, answer some questions.
What type of materials are you looking for? By this, we mean the size and style of rock. Do you want rounded rocks, like river rock, or rugged edges like the cuts on gravel?
How much of the material do you need? While you can ask for help in calculating this, you’ll want to at least know the square footage of the area you want to fill.
If it’s a large square or rectangular space, measure the length and width and multiply those numbers together to get the total square footage.
Make adjustments for spaces that are round or unusual in shape, such as a dry river bed.
For boulders, calculate the size you’re looking for. Estimate the desired height you want in alignment with your goals. Also consider the width of the base of the rock to make sure it’s not too large or small for the space. Be prepared to share how many boulders you’re looking for and the approximate size of each.
While we’re at it, not all boulders or big rocks are the same. The planet is made up of countless natural materials, including rocks. While you might have something specific in mind, that might not match what’s readily available.
Be sure to ask what type of rock the business has or you might end up with black basalt when you were expecting black marble or black hawk.