It’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with artificial rock. On the one hand, it allows a builder to create a breathtaking installation without worrying about access issues. But if care is not taken, the project may end up looking like a cartoon.

Artificial rock is growing in popularity, but sadly, many installers don’t know how to work with it. This means an increasing number of poorly designed, shoddy eyesores in backyards across America.

That’s why Pool & Spa News created this extensive series of articles detailing the proper methods for designing these installations. The highly complex information is presented as tips for easy access and review in the future.

We thought it best to start with the basic materials. The first story covers glass fiber reinforced concrete rock, which is formed from manufactured castings. Next up is the classic, hand-sculpted technique. The benefits and challenges of both styles are revealed.

On to planning and engineering, with an article that delves into easy ways to plot the look of each project. It also explores practical construction applications to ensure durability and code compliance.

Capping the series is our most advanced grouping of articles. Each one shows you how to replicate natural formations, special features, cracks and coloration.

This package has a little something for everyone: Artificial-rock subcontractors will find numerous ideas for making the product look as realistic as possible. Builders will see how to prepare the job and get a firsthand look at what goes into the highest quality artificial rockwork. You’ll be better prepared to review potential subcontractors’ work when the time comes.