pond stone & rockery

The selection and placement of stone needs to be carefully contemplated and executed in order to achieve a natural, stable and aesthetically pleasing finish

Obviously, stone is not an easy item to just change at a later date. I recommend to all my clients that we meet at the local quarry to carefully select pieces that you will be happy with in the long run

Stone size needs to be in scale with both the pond and yard size. It is also key to support the stone with a concrete collar to avoid tipping and collapse at a later date
  • stone-on-skids.jpg
    Stone is either delivered on skids, or dumped from a truck onto you lawn
  • heavy-stone.jpg
    Stone weighs about 150 lbs. per cubic foot - power equipment is often required
  • limestone-rockery.jpg
    Many ponds require placement of stone by hand due to access restrictions
  • moving-stone.jpg
    A case 580 can move pretty heavy stone and has a nice reach

Selecting Pond Stone

The first consideration is scale. You do not want to place huge 1200 lb. boulders around a small 8 foot pond. I have seen it, and it doesn't look right. Your existing landscape logistics also need to be examined so that the pond blends in in a natural way to the rest of the yard

As a rough guideline, 1 ton of stone is required for every 10 - 15 feet of pond perimeter. Rock weighs approximately 150 lbs. per cubic foot. This means a stone 2.5 x 2 x 1.5 will require at least 2 strong men and a rock cart to move properly. Do not purchase your stone from a Nursery as you will pay a huge premium. Do not rely on someone else to select your stone, they may not have the same taste as you. Take your time, walk the stone yard and choose the stone that you like best. Bear in mind, stone can change colour [generally fading] over time due to the sun - so it never hurts to ask questions

Foundation Stone

I find the most popular stone selections to be limestone rockery, armour stone and cascade. These may be named differently in your area. Limestone is my personal favorite as I feel it looks the most natural and supports the growth of green moss. The key is that you pick only 1 type of stone as your main perimeter stone. There will be a visual "clash" if you combine several different types of large edging stone around your pond. Other popular stone choices are waterfall rock, granite and Kingston weathered

  • Limestone is very natural looking and will buffer you pH
  • Personally I don't find armour stone attractive but it is popular

Complimentary Stone

Complimentary stone are those you should add to create contrast to your main perimeter stone These would include river rock and any of the various flagstones available [pictured right]. Complimentary stone can be added and will look great if incorporated correctly - and example being a flagstone viewing/feeding spot

  • a great stone out of the water, not at the bottom of your pond
  • A nice border accent stone that can add interest

Positioning Stone

You need to look for rock that will fit together like a puzzle and placement should appear natural and not contrived. Not every rock you place will look "right" so be prepared to move some rock a couple of times. A rock cart is an essential tool for even smaller 250 lb. rocks and a pry bar is also a necessary asset
  • This client wanted his pond rebuilt. The stone work was average
  • After about 4 hours it looked a lot better, using the same stone

For difficult maneuvering and access, a cargo net works well to provide handles for up to 6 people to move larger stone. Remember, dumping rock on the ground is not the same as positioning it on a liner as punctures can happened if your not careful

Larger stone may need a tripod hoist, bobcat or larger backhoe. Chaining or Strapping rock effectively is not as easy as it appears and the whole process of stone work is a bit of an art. While your contemplating that next stone don't forget to watch your fingers and toes which can easily get crushed - gloves and steel toed footwear are recommended

  • Larger delivery trucks can place full skids on your driveway, the closer to the site the better
  • With a little skill rock carts can move large stone easily
  • A bobcat can move a lot quickly, albeit with lawn damage
  • Tripod hoists are a great tool we utilize for moving larger stones, especially in tight areas
Aesthetics are integral. Without a concrete collar, construction integrity can be compromised and collapses can occur. The collar also provides a nice shelf given you a level palette from which to work with
  • No concrete collar and poor stonework
  • With the stone in the water and plantings, a pond looks better

One key consideration in the placement of the rock - will it be in or out of the water? First and foremost, fish can get injured on submersed stone, particularly during spawning. Obviously, sharper edged stones are of a greater concern.

Secondly, there are effects on water chemistry. Many lakes have had there eco systems destroyed due to acid rain. Lakes with limestone bedrock however, do not number among then. Numerous types of natural stone will buffer the water and provide a stable pH of 8.4 - rocks containing Calcite, Dolomite [CO3] are excellent buffers as they bind hydrogen ions that would otherwise form weak carbonic acids [which lower the pH]. Personally I prefer rock placed in the water as it provides a much more natural look. In my experience, fish injuring themselves on stone tends to be the exception and not the rule

If herons are a problem in your area, large perimeter stone will hinder them from walking into your pond and fishing. Large stone 1 or 2 feet above the ponds surface makes fishing difficult for them