How to Do Fake Rocks for a Swimming Pool

You can turn your swimming pool into an oasis with fake rocks and landscaping.
You can turn your swimming pool into an oasis with fake rocks and landscaping. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Artificial rocks are a quick and affordable alternative to the real deal when used in landscaping and beautification. Among the many uses for artificial rocks – such as lining flower beds or bordering a pond – is decorating around a swimming pool. By building large fake boulders near a swimming pool, you can give the illusion that the pool is built directly into the side of a mountain. Fake rocks can also hide the inner workings of a waterfall or an unsightly pool pump.

Things You'll Need

  • Scrap wood
  • Styrofoam
  • Wire pins
  • Knife
  • Steel mesh
  • Chicken wire
  • Tin snips or wire cutters
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Portland cement
  • Builder’s sand
  • Peat moss
  • Acrylic fortifier
  • Concrete dye
  • Water
  • Shovel or stick
  • Latex gloves
  • Natural sponge
  • Sealant spray with matte finish

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Plan the layout of the rocks you will create. The final location of the rocks will determine where you need to build and mold them. If you plan on building large boulders, build the mold near the finished location of the boulder, as even hollow rocks will be heavy.

Cut pieces of Styrofoam to make the shape of the rock. You can choose one of two ways to create the mold. First, you can carve a large block of Styrofoam into the shape you want. This gives you the most control over the shape. The other option is to use wood to make the basic shape of the boulder and layer smaller pieces of Styrofoam over the wood to create a more natural shape. Assemble the layers of Styrofoam and secure each piece to the next with wire pins.

Cover the mold with steel mesh, securing the mesh with wire pins.

Cut sections of chicken wire that can cover the rock from side to side. Wrap the sections around the mold one at a time. Secure each section to the next with wire pins or by wrapping the chicken wire around the next piece. Wrap the mold three to five times with the chicken wire. If your rock has large vertical sides, you will need more than three layers.

Measure 1 cup of Portland cement and pour it into the wheelbarrow. Add 1 cup of builder’s sand and 2 cups of peat moss. Add the fortifier according to the package directions. Add 1 cup of water and mix with a shovel or a stick. Depending on how big of a rock you plan on making, you will need more than this small batch, so instead of using cups use gallons. Add any concrete dye desired to color the mix.

Continue adding small amounts of water until your mixture has the consistency of thick pudding.

Put on a pair of gloves and add the mixture by the handful or cupful onto the foam mold.

Spread the mixture over the entire surface until the mixture is about ½ inch thick. Allow the rock to set for about 20 minutes.

Press a natural sponge onto the surface of the rock to give the surface texture. Texture the entire surface.

Allow the rock to cure for at least 24 hours.

Spray sealant with a matte finish to seal the rock and help protect the color.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make the foam core of the rock large enough to cover a pool pump. After the concrete sets, dig out the foam and leave the wire frame.

References

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