Fake Rocks – Is Imitation Even Better Than The Real Thing?

Over the years, Creative Rock has built ponds and waterfalls to just about very size, shape, and design imaginable. Back in the old days (pre digital age even!), we would construct our waterfalls and ponds using huge natural rocks. These massive boulders would be placed in and around the garden by brute force. Putting both landscapers and property in peril we would manoeuvre these monoliths using cranes, excavators, iron bars, ropes and various contraptions which would inevitably result in a “that’s close enough” attitude. Besides the limitations and extra expenses that natural rock waterfalls have in regard to positioning and access, there were also many structural considerations involved when building waterfalls and ponds with natural rocks. Creating large overhanging rocks positioned over a swimming pool to create a cave style waterfall would definitely need to be thought out carefully. Eventually, we would have to concede that some designs just were not possible.

So began the beginnings of artificial rock.

The earliest versions of man made rock came from the golden years of hollywood. Studio productions would find it to be more economical to create artificial caves, rock features/formations, or natural surrounds in their studios rather that find the ideal location and have to set up the entire production in various scattered locations. Most rock was sculpted and formed out of light weight foam or fibreglass where very quickly the Bat Cave or a Bond villains’ hideout would be created and the man made cave could be recorded, sound staged, and lit up as necessary, allowing sound and lighting to be controlled precisely while the actors and crew never having to leave the studio.

As time went on the notion of creating natural environments in residential applications started to take off and the industry of creating mock rock migrated from the hollywood hills to world wide use for ponds, faux rock retaining walls, swimming pools, and any number of clever uses.

As artificial rock became popular in gardens, pools, and inside homes, the need for hard wearing structural rock became very important. People needed an artificial version of rock that was easy to design and manipulate but that had the integrity to be used for structural applications and retaining walls. Concrete rocks which were reinforced with steel were sculpted and coloured to look identical to natural rock. The results were so spectacular and convincing that this type of rock would become the norm. Of course, as well as adding some complication to the process of manufacturing fake rock features came some important benefits when using concrete. Rock bridges spanning huge ponds or pools would be much easier to construct and things like rock overhangs on pools and spas would finally become safe and strong. The other advantages when using concrete rock formations is that the style and colour can be designed to match the interior of a home, office, or hotel, while still maintaining it’s natural beauty. Man made rock could be used not only for waterfalls and ponds, but also as rock stepping stones, patios, walls, or even integrated into aquariums and furnishings. Theme parks, zoos and various public spaces such as clubs, casinos, and hotels would also use rock fountains and waterfalls to bring a sense of prestige and elegance whilst also creating memorable experiences for their clients and guests to talk about to their friends and family.

Of course waterscapes are just one piece of the of the landscape design puzzle. In Sydney, we are blessed with some of the best weather on the planet, and this allows us many options in regards to planting some extremely beautiful feature trees into our designs. The plants, waterfalls, lighting and pond design will all work together to produce a classy and unique contemporary landscape design. One that even Bat Man would be proud of.

pool waterfall cascade
cascade waterfall on pool with woman


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