Rock & Boulder Month – Fractured Basalt

“Fractured Basalt” is essentially another name for rock and boulders who were displaced or dynamited apart to become either the boulders that they are or to become an excellent crushed gravel product, suitable for the bases of roadways the world over. They show a “fractured” appearance because they have been – fractured, that is.

(click any image to enlarge)


Obviously, I don’t hesitate to use them in water features of my own as the picture above testifies. Living in the West, we see relatively younger mountain ranges and stone complexes and it is not unusual in the slightest to see this sort of conglomeration. Aside from that, these stones have fabulous color and shapes. They combine well with other types of stones, to add to their appeal for a designing landscaper.

douglas drama

Arriving on a site, these boulders can be intimidating. Local quarries in both Reno and Portland, Oregon deliver this rock in massive, 20-25 yard quantities at the end of these long semi end dump trailers which reach to the sky when dumping. You want to give these guys some flat ground to dump on, trust me. Anyway, once you get a few of these loads, the work of selection gets intense. They come in wonderful and surprising shapes which challenge an orderly mind like few other things.

Arriving at a result such as the one below is weird ……………..when the picture below it is how you began


Pretty big mess…….. 😉   My favorite thing.


Just a bit later – But these stones are obviously not the rolled upon and rounded river and glacial rocks of the former post. These have edges, breaks and – often – fabulous color in their own right.


In yet another water feature, we can get an idea of the deeper colors and the variety of shades these basalt boulders have –

Doug and Ed 099

Some of the shades are remarkably different. Truly, not all fractured rock is “fractured basalt” – one can, in fact, find Quartz in the local mountains around Reno of impressive size and amazingly white or absolutely “clear” quality. There is a “Quartz Mountain” just west of town which has been a garden resource for countless devoted quartz lovers and gardeners. It used to be that people would drive up and just load out whatever took their fancies. Below is an idea of what one of these boulders looks like in its natural setting:


Here is a browner toned basalt piece in Portland we worked into a small water feature.


Split further, they make fabulous stones for walls and for garden path ways. We’ll see much more about the possibilities of garden paths in the very near future.


Back to the fractured basalt, here’s an example of yet another water feature, done in Portland, using the fractured rock.



We now venture back into “bubble rocks”, split or fractured rocks we like so much, we pay to have them cored for water to run over there surfaces.


And another:


I took a chance once using a mulch of this stuff – in a billion different sizes. There was a quarry nearby and the client was game to try something I mentioned I thought might work well. So we used the fractured stones as a mulch, in combination with larger pieces of the same ilk. I knew it would turn out good andf it did – right from the start.


It was a lot of rock!


A year later, it looked as good and remained nice and easy to maintain.


Even the front yard benefited from these interesting stones. I think the mixture of the deep green lawn and those gray-blue rocks are very effective.


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