Contractor's Corner

Contractor’s Corner | Character Rocks

Don’t limit yourself with boulder selection

Multiple cascades on the main waterfall illuminated with outdoor lighting.

The ultimate dream for a waterfall or pond builder is to have a huge rock selection to choose from in order to pick out every character rock possible for the feature.

Close up of the main waterfall that surrounds the right side of the jacuzzi and can be seen and heard from the bedroom window upstairs.

What is a character rock? Character rocks are the “cool” rocks — the most desirable and unique rocks out of the bunch. These rocks are placed strategically around or in the feature to catch people’s eyes. Maybe they are facing the patio, next to the bridge that everyone will walk over, or in the center of the feature with water running around it.

Sometimes, depending on your situation, having enough character rocks can be difficult. This is especially true if you are getting a semi-truck load of rocks dropped off at the job site, hoping and praying that there will be a few unique rocks in it.

We at LCM Landscape & Design have been fortunate enough to have two projects this year that provided us with a huge nearby selection of character rocks that really made a difference in the overall results of the build. Having the chance to find cool, unique rocks is an amazing feeling — not to mention knowing that the chances of running out of rocks for the job is next to impossible.

This changes the concept of building the feature in the first place, because every job must be estimated based on a certain quantity and quality of rock. My philosophy as a contractor is that if I need to go over budget to bring more rock in to finish off a feature, I will do what I need to make it nice, even if it cuts into my margins.

It’s pretty incredible to be able to just say, “Hey guys, go grab me another one about this big with a bunch of moss on it for this spot right here.” These jobs do not come around often, but when they do, we try to take complete advantage and utilize our resources to the fullest.

This particular project has more than 110 tons of boulders. We actually weren’t able to weigh them, so it’s more of a rough estimate, but I can’t tell you how many trailers and trips it took to get “one more” rock. The scale of this project is really hard to grasp, because a lot of the boulders we used are more than 4 feet long and 3 feet deep, weighing more than 4,000 pounds.

The 2 bottom ponds and waterfalls add to the stunning views and can be seen from the front porch.

This feature stretches more than 100 feet wide and 200 feet long, dropping more than 12 feet from top to bottom. With all the rock readily available on the side of the mountain, we were able to bring this project to life utilizing every character rock we possibly could. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to do a build this way, because it really is the ultimate way to build a waterfall and pond — not being limited on boulder selection (and budget).

Landon Malave is the owner of LCM Landscape & Design LLC, which operates out of Elbert, Colorado. He services all along the Front Range and travels across the neighboring states to build waterfalls. He lives on a tree farm with his wife and three small children.

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