Digging in rocky soil

How to Remove Rocks From Your Yard

Stuck between a rock and a hard place with your yard’s current landscaping style? If you’re wondering how to remove rocks from your yard, we can help.

Whether you’re getting rid of landscaping rocks in your garden or trying to remove a large boulder, yard rock removal doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Follow along below as we cover the best ways to remove rocks from a yard, the tools you’ll need to get the job done, as well as landscaping ideas and disposal options for when you’re finished.

The Best Ways to Remove Rocks From Your Yard

While decorative rocks or gravel can add visual appeal to your landscape design, they can also prevent plants from growing. Rocks in the soil block plant roots from reaching their nutrient sources and water, making the soil stiff over time, and they can deprive the plants of growing space. Rocks can also pose a safety issue when mowing the lawn, by either damaging the equipment or causing injury if a rock gets thrown by the mower.

If it’s time to clear problem rocks from your yard, the best way to do so will depend on the type of rocks you’re removing.

Yard Rock Removal Tools You’ll Need and How Much They’ll Cost:

  • Rototiller – This will help you break up dirt to loosen the soil and expose large rocks. For small gardens, a cultivator would also work. Both can be rented at your local hardware store, such as a Home Depot, for about $25 – $50 per day, depending on size.
  • Garden rake – Use a garden rake to gather the gravel together. You can purchase one for $15 – $30, depending on the size you need.
  • Gardening gloves – Gardening gloves will help prevent blisters while you’re raking the rocks, and you can find a pair for about $5.
  • Pointed shovel – Use a shovel to scoop up gravel and other small rocks you’ve gathered with the rake. You can purchase a quality pointed shovel for less than $30.
  • Wheelbarrow – Last but not least, use a wheelbarrow to get the rocks out of the yard. The price range for wheelbarrows vary between $40 – $120, depending on brand and capacity. If you’re working in a steep or uneven area, you can transport smaller rocks using buckets.
  • Soil sifter – Using a screen or net over your wheelbarrow will help you more easily sift rocks out of the soil. Soil sifters can be purchased for $20 – $40, or you can make your own.

How to Get Rid of Gravel

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Garden rake
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pointed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Removing Gravel From Your Yard

If you’re removing a gravel driveway or getting rid of rocks in the yard, start by shoveling gravel into a wheelbarrow to remove it. Then, use a rake to pick up pieces of gravel the shovel missed.

Often times, the homeowner before you may have used a geotextile cloth underneath decorative gravel, which makes the removal process easier, as you simply lift it up and can remove large quantities of gravel at a time.

How to Remove Rocks From Soil

  • Rototiller
  • Garden rake
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pointed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Soil sifter

Removing Rocks From Soil

Removing rocks that are mixed in with soil requires more effort than removing piles of clean gravel, but is still very doable with the right tools. To begin, slowly push the rototiller to break up the soil. Stop and pick up any larger rocks in the yard as you till.

Place rocks in the wheelbarrow as you go to keep them out of the way and make it easier to move them once you’re finished tilling.

Rake through the loosened soil to sift out smaller rocks. Rake the small rocks and gravel into a pile, then scoop them into the wheelbarrow with your shovel. Continue raking with a regular leaf rake if there is a lot of gravel.

Sound like too much work to take on this job? Rocks can also be removed from soil by using a tractor, plough and screen to separate rocks. Renting a tractor and plough will be more costly, but much less labor intensive.

For this method, you’ll need to attach the plough to the tractor, loosen the topsoil, then use the plough to drag and collect the rocks. Use your sifter to remove rocks from soil, then spread the soil back on the ground.

How to Remove Large Boulders

  • Garden rake
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pointed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Moving Large Rocks and Boulders From Your Yard

Start by digging around the large rocks with your shovel to see how deep they go, and then continue digging until you’ve uncovered the whole rock. Make sure to loosen the soil surrounding it as much as possible so the rock will be easier to lift.

Ask for help when picking up rocks in the yard, as they can get heavy and strain your back. With the assistance of at least one other person, lift the rock into the wheelbarrow where it can be pushed away from the area.

Alternatively, using a 6×6’ piece of wood as a fulcrum, you can use a 4’ pry bar to push or pull big rocks out of the ground and over level terrain through your yard, according to the gardening team at This Old House.

As with smaller rocks, a faster way to remove large rocks from your yard is to use heavy machinery. Skid steer loaders, or “bobcats,” are recommended for this job and can be rented online.

If these project ideas aren’t for you, and you’re simply wondering how to get rid of rocks in your yard, our Rock Disposal Guide will help you weigh your options.

Creative Ways to Reuse Rocks for Landscaping Projects

Now you know how to get rid of rocks in your yard, but where should they go once you’ve gotten them out? Here are a few ideas for repurposing landscape rocks that will save time and money on your yard design projects.

Create a Fire Pit

You can create a backyard fire pit with the materials you’ve already been using to remove the rocks from your yard. All you need is your large rocks, gravel, a shovel and a rake. Follow this four-step guide for a DIY fire pit project to get started.

Build a New Retaining Wall

While interlocking landscape blocks are most commonly used to build retaining walls, stone and boulders can also be an ideal fit to edge your flower beds. When starting from scratch, using stone or boulders to build a garden wall can cost about $15 per square foot for materials, plus labor, according to HomeAdvisor. If your unwanted rocks are still in good shape after cleaning them off, you can expect to save hundreds by going the DIY route with your retaining wall.

Add a Garden Walkway

For a more elegant look without the expense, design a walkway that’s (literally) a natural fit with your garden. Whether you’re looking for a gravel path or stepping stones from larger rocks, this project can be done in only a day or two and will leave a lasting impact on your curb appeal.

Clean Up and Tackle Your Next Landscaping Project

Having a tough time making a cleanup plan for your rock removal? If you’re seeking disposal options for your landscaping rocks or concrete from other outdoor projects, learn about how to recycle or responsibly dispose of your debris here:

  • How to Dispose of Rocks
  • How to Dispose of Concrete and Asphalt

Still feeling motivated to up your landscaping game? Find inspiration with these DIY garden and landscaping guides:

  • DIY Landscaping Guide
  • 5 Easy DIY Garden Ideas
  • 10 Ideas for Backyard Landscaping on a Budget

The easiest way to remove rocks from a garden is with a cultivator or tiller and a garden rake. It will require a little work, but it is a simple process if you have the right tools.

Tools Needed to Remove Rocks From a Garden

The six main garden tools you’ll need to use in order to remove rocks from your garden are probably ones you already own. These include:

  • Rototiller or cultivator: These motorized machines feature two sets of rotating tines that dig up the soil. The cultivator is a smaller version of a tiller and ideal for working small gardens. If you don’t have a cultivator or tiller, you may need to rent or borrow one.
  • Scoop shovel: Choose a long-handled or short-handled scoop shovel according to personal preference.
  • Garden rake: Select a quality garden rake with steel tines, not to be confused with a leaf rake. A garden rake has very sturdy tines that are ideal for raking up rocks. The typical head width is 13.5″.
  • Pick: You may need a pick if you run into any large rocks that need to be removed.
  • Wheel barrow or bucket: You will want something to transport the rocks from your garden. A wheel barrow or bucket can be used to carry a load of rocks to a designated area.
  • Work gloves: You’ll also need a good pair of gardening gloves since raking can cause blisters very quickly.

Procedure for Extracting Rocks From the Garden

Once you have assembled the appropriate tools, follow these steps to take rocks out of your garden.

Step 1. Till the Garden Area

You’ll want to break up the soil in your garden. The easiest way to do this is with either a cultivator or rototiller, which will be much less taxing than trying to double dig a garden space. Use the machine to dig at least six to eight inches deep. This will loosen the soil, and any small rocks within the soil will be tilled to the surface or at least within easy access.

Step 2: Smooth Out Soil

Once the soil is broken up, you can use the garden rake to smooth out the planting surface. It’s during this process that you’ll begin to find rocks.

Step 3: Rake the Rocks

The width of a garden rake paired with the amount of space between its tines makes extracting rocks from your garden easy. Raking is far less stressful on your back than bending over and trying to pick up individual rocks. The rake’s width means you can move a large amount of rocks in very little time.

Field Garden

The easiest way to remove rocks from a field garden is to rake them into a pile and then use a scoop shovel to dump into a bucket or wheel barrow.

Planting Beds

If you need to remove rocks from a garden bed, you can rake the rocks to the edge of the bed. Scoop the rocks into the cradle of the garden rake and lift from the bed, then deposit in the designated area.

Step 4: Smaller Rock Removal

Smaller rocks often escape between the tines. You can still use the rake to capture them.

  • Turn the rake upside down so the tines are pointed skyward.
  • Drag the flat side against the ground and either drag or push the rocks out of the planting area.
  • You can always scoop up the rocks once cleared of the garden area.

Step 5: Large Rocks

If you happen upon a large rock that is practically buried in your garden, you can remove it fairly easily.

  • Dig all around the rock to loosen the soil with a shovel. Try this first before turning to a pick. Using the shovel is far easier and places less stress on your back and arms.
  • Once the soil is loosened, try to slip the shovel underneath the rock.
  • You may need to dig deeper around the rock by using a pick to loosen it.
  • Depending on the size of the rock, you may be able to use the shovel to pry it free.
  • Use the rake to move soil into the hole and level it with the rest of the garden.

Garden Rock Removal Made Easy

It’s easy to remove rocks from a garden, depending on their sizes and if they’re buried very deeply. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to take care of this important gardening task. Average size rocks can easily be raked out of the growing space to clear the way for plants.

Where to Find Free Landscaping Stones

No matter what the project is, one factor always comes into play: the budget. Landscaping and gardening are no exception. Fortunately, there are ways to keep these projects frugal, and sometimes FREE.
Pray for Wisdomsize=”3″>

First, and foremost, always pray for wisdom in the planning process, and for the resources needed. It’s amazing what God will do when we place our desires into His hands.

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” to read the next couple verses that elaborate on asking for wisdom.

Matthew 7:11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” to read the entire chapter.

If you would like to know how to be saved, and become a child of God, check out one of these two posts: Spring and My Rebirth or Autumn and Our Mortality.

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Find Free Landscaping Stonessize=”3″>

Don’t assume every part of a project will require a purchase transaction.

In the Ground

A couple years ago, my sister found out that a nearby construction site was wrapping up its work, and there were a bunch of rocks that had been dug up from an earlier stage of the construction. The rocks had been set aside, and one of the construction managers(?) told her she could take what she wanted, with some exceptions. The below photo is one of the rocks from that site.

Building Demolitions

Last year, I shared a step-by-step process on how to acquire bricks (for a garden pathway, patio, or any number of projects) for FREE. One reader commented how she also had come across free bricks.

Along the Roadside

In the below photos, you can see a bunch of beautiful boulders and large rocks lying alongside the road. There are a lot of rock “walls” along the highway in southern Indiana. Over time, chunks of these rocks simply break off and fall to the ground.

You can’t tell from these photos, but all of these boulders are within 20 feet of a road. You can easily spot them, pull over on the shoulder, and place them into a pick-up truck – or take photos of them. The large boulders would obviously require some equipment, pulleys, etc. for lifting and getting into the truck. You can also find small, more manageable rocks, too.

I know someone who asked a Department of Natural Resources employee about taking some fallen stones. He was told, as long as the stones had naturally broken off, they were free for the taking. (This might be different state by state, or even by county.) Meaning, you couldn’t bring your tools and start chipping away at the outcroppings, causing them to fall.

The individual made a stone path (see below photos) from their front door to the driveway, with the free stones he picked up off the roadside. How cool is that?!

photo credit: M. Pollard

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What creative ways have you found to acquire free stones for a garden or yard project?
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Homestead Barn Hop

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How to get the dirt out of the rocks in rock landscaping?

I have 1-5″ off white pebble beds around my home and in a few areas around a stand of trees, and along my property fence line. I live in NE PA along a bluff overlooking a stream with many large 100′ sycamore and popular trees (dirty). Last summer I rebuilt a 30 x 40 second story deck that was over one of the larger rock garden beds, and being under the “porch” I didn’t clean the area as thoroughly as say my front drive or house front beds. How you ask? Well I’ll tells ya: first use a high powered blower after grass raking the dead leaves left over from previous fall seasons. Then use a garden rake to jiggle the top layer of rock to break up the soil that embeds between the pebbles and bribe your spouse to blower the spot you are jiggling (oh you do have a dirty mind!). This will give you some satisfaction and would probably be “good enough” for an annual cleaning, but if you’ve been lax, you may want to get down a few more layers then a blower or power washer will achieve. Here’s my trick. I have a wire garden cart (tractor supply, Lowes etcA that came with a rack insert. The 1″ mesh allows me to shovel the lossened stones into the rack that I sit on a large round wash tub. I do the prospector shuffle and sift the dirt from the rock. I put these into 5 gal buckets and save to respread on top once I have gone down enough layers to be happy. Note that you don’t have to go all the way to the plastic, and also you’ll find that these beds can be pretty thick if done in the good old days with quality workmanship. I am always surprised when I try to restore another area how deep the stones are and I often find the the perimeter extends a foot or two beyond where Ive been maintaining. For example a 10′ square by my mailbox is all rock, but over the years the Ivy has claimed the middle half around my driveway landscape light (and is forever needing to be cut back). There is now mulch and plant along the road and a dirt/rock path on the inside perimeter that I bet is over at least 1′ of original peddlerock. I maintain a 2’x4′ swatch of clean pebbles that border my drive. A note on tools: obviously depending upon where you live, the initial debridement tool may be better suited for what you are removing from on top. In PA I have leaves (tons of leaves!) That fall. Every year, too! Plus maple wings, acorns, walnuts, bird seed shells by the feeder, grass clippings and any of another source of hubris that all become a really good black soil albeit with chunks. I use the fan rake and a blower to get whatever leaves I’ve missed during fall cleanup. Then the heavy 12-20 tooth garden rake with pressure to loosen the rock from this soils bind, which can be tough if not done for a year or few. I blow away the loosened dirt (blow it away, not back into the bed or you’ll just have to address it the next layer or two done when your more tired). Then you have to collect enough cleaned rocks to replace them as the new top layer(s). Blowing moist dirt doesn’t do as well as waiting for it to dry a bit, so move on to another section and come back to blow it off. I have used a spade garden shovel to dig up the old rock after its been loosened, or a coal shovel that I scoop up rock from a raked pile. What I hope to try today is to use a “coal fork” – kind of a T handled pitch fork with thicker tines ( like 5-6 pointed metal linguini tines instead of round spaghetti tines for hay bails). I’m hoping that I can work these into the rock deep enough simply to “turn” the garden and this will act as my sifter and shovel as one. Probably won’t work as well as I want it to, so the rack screening method will still be needed for high viz areas. All said, its a pain in the all over to do, so do little bits at a time. To me, I stay away from squirting it with a washer or hose til I have it back in place after maybe hosing off the rock in the screen before bucketing them. I’ve found the power washer is good for cleaning clean rocks, and making dirty rocks harder to clean or rack out. And finally, some landscapers didn’t do the job deep enough in the first place as a gift to the homeowner (I can save you a few hundred Mrs Jones…) If you skimp of the depth, it looks badder more faster ;). So some areas may need a little cleaning and another new bags mixed in or on top to get that fresh brushed feeling. It is like brushing your teeth. If you take care of your stuff routinely, then its easier to do the real cleaning twice a year and have a happy smiling landscape. Of course if you throw ciggie butts in your pebble garden and only give it some love every 5-10 years, you can expect some decay or even an extraction is necessary. Take your time, get your system, quit yapping about it and just go do it! Now where the heck did I put that linguini shovel??? ~Dr Bob in Reading PA on the mighty Tulpehocken

Rocks In The Garden: How To Work With Rocky Soil

It is planting time. You are all set to go with gloves on your hands and a wheelbarrow, shovel and trowel on standby. The first shovel load or two comes out easily and gets tossed into the wheelbarrow for backfill. You try to push the shovel in the hole to remove another scoop of dirt but you hear a clang as it hits rock. With the shovel head, you poke and prod inside the base of the hole only to discover more clangs and more rocks. Feeling frustrated, but determined, you dig harder and wider, shoveling out what rocks you can only to find even more rocks beneath those. If this scenario seems all too familiar, then you have rocky soil. Continue reading for tips on how to work with rocky soil in the garden.

Dealing with Rocky Soil

Oftentimes, when new homes are built, soil fill or topsoil are brought in to create a future lawn. However, this layer of fill or topsoil is usually only spread 4-12 inches (10-30 cm.) deep using whatever inexpensive fill they can to get by. Normally, a depth of 4 inches (10 cm.), which is sufficient for lawn grasses to grow in, is what you get. What this means is that when you go to plant your landscape or garden, it is not long before you hit the rocky subsoil that lies beneath the illusion of a lush green yard. If you’re lucky, or specifically requested it, the contractor put in topsoil of at least 12 inches (30 cm.) deep.

Besides being backbreaking work, rocky soil can make it harder for certain plants to take root and absorb essential nutrients. And with the earth’s crust and mantle literally made up of rocks, and the constant movement of plates along with intense heat from the core of the earth, these are continuously pushed up to the surface. This basically means that you could spend years trying to dig out all the troublesome rocks in the garden only to have more come up in their place.

How to Get Rid of Rocks in Soil

Plants and nature have learned to adapt to the rocky subsoil of earth by creating natural deposits of organic matter on top of the rocks below. When plants and animals die in nature, they decompose into nutrient rich organic matter that future plants can root and thrive in. So while there really is no quick, easy remedy of how to get rid of rocks in soil, we can adapt.

One method of dealing with rocky soil is to create raised beds or berms for plants to grow in, above the rocky soil. These raised beds or berms should be at least 6 inches (15 cm.) deep, but the deeper the better for larger, deep rooting plants.

Another method of dealing with rocky soil is to use plants that grow well in rocky conditions (yes, they do exist). These plants usually have shallow roots and low water and nutrient needs. Below are some plants that grow well in rocky soil:

  • Alyssum
  • Anemone
  • Aubrieta
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Baptisia
  • Bearberry
  • Bellflower
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Bugleweed
  • Candytuft
  • Catchfly
  • Catmint
  • Columbine
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Crabapple
  • Dianthus
  • Dogwood
  • Gentian
  • Geranium
  • Hawthorn
  • Hazelnut
  • Hellebore
  • Holly
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Little Bluestem
  • Magnolia
  • Milkweed
  • Miscanthus
  • Ninebark
  • Prairie Dropseed
  • Red Cedar
  • Saxifraga
  • Sea Thrift
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum
  • Smoke bush
  • Sumac
  • Thyme
  • Viola
  • Yucca

Any suggestions on getting grass to grow in rocky clay soil?

Hey, I am very familiar with this soil. Either way, the problem is that when the construction crew built your sub community they dozed the top soil to clear the land. Your soil is very dead. It will take some years for the grass to grow thick – around 3 to 15 years naturally. Due to your slope every time it rains you will have soil erosion removing the nutrients from the surface further prolonging the fertility regeneration, hence the bald spots of grass clay. Also the clay has a tendency of compacting.
You can plant trees but they will grow very slowly because the soil is not very fertile. I do not believe you are allowed to use many permaculture techniques involving animals or anything of that sort in your subdivision so conventional landscaping would have to be considered. You could directly transplant patches of grass from your lawn but this is very time consuming and you have to work in some compost or fertile soil into the clay before you place the grass. Make sure not to do this before heavy rains due to the slope. The grass will be in shock but will bounce back and since the soil is clay you you dont have to worry so much about water.
Be careful not to be tempted to do the seed thing, when the fall and spring come the hardiness differences in the grass (if lucky enough to germinate) will make lots of brown spots and it will look very ugly as well – not much improvement. Also if the back yard is frequented a lot you should consider a shrub or tree more because people make more forceful steps walking at angles which will kill the grass.
I would not focus on monoculture grass lawns and focus on building functional herb guilds, maybe a mixture of medicinal plants like and cluster them together. They will spread and I am sure you will appreciate going to the back yard for clippings of fresh herbs when you cook.

Do you want a beautiful lawn, but can’t seem to get one to grow because your soil is full of rocks? Growing grass on rocky soil can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

Here are some tips on growing and maintaining grass on your rocky soil:

Working with the Rocks

If you have the means to use a tractor to drag the land and remove surface rocks, by all means do so. If not, till the land removing as many rocks as possible.

When starting fresh, your best option is to get a truckload of topsoil. Spread the topsoil evenly over the area you plan to seed. Your seeds will have a better chance of thriving in topsoil that can be kept moist. Rocky soil dries out quickly. Even if you have dragged your land, more rocks will probably surface over time.

Choose Wisely

Soil with rocks tends to lose nutrients rapidly. Couple that with the fact that it dries out quickly, and you have two challenges when it comes to choosing what kind of grass to plant.

You will want a grass that is known to grow well in your climate, and is drought tolerant. Plants, flowers and grasses are often classified by the zones in which they grow well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a plant hardiness zone map you can refer to if you need to know what zone you live in.

A few grasses that lend themselves to the ability to thrive in rocky soil are:

Bermuda grass – This grass grows best in zones 7 through 10. It is a fast growing grass and has deep roots. Bermudagrass is drought tolerant.

Buffalo grass – This grass grows best in zones 4 through 8. It does well in full sun and with well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant and has low water requirements.

Fescue – This grass grows best in zones 4 through 7. Fescue is a low maintenance grass, is drought tolerant once established, and holds up to harsh winters

Zoysia grass – This grass grows best in zones 6 through 9. It develops deep roots, only needs occasional watering, and while not as drought resistant as others it usually tolerates rocky soil.

A landscape professional will be able to help you choose which grasses are best for your location and soil. All grass requires some maintenance whether it is watering, fertilizing, aerating, or mowing. If there is any question as to how you should care for your lawn, bring in a professional (such as Valley Green Companies). Don’t give up on your rocky soil.


© pzAxe / Adobe Stock

Rocky soil can create a multitude of problems for your yard. Not only can they damage equipment, but rocks can also make it difficult for deep-rooted plants to grow and can also interfere with building a new addition. Clearing your yard of these objects can be tedious when done by hand, and it isn’t always easy to find an alternative.

The following methods will greatly reduce the amount of time and effort needed to clear out your lawn, whether you need to dig deep or just clean up the surface.

Surface Rock Removal for Lawns and Gardens

© Steven / Adobe Stock

Whether you are planting a new lawn or preparing a garden, a multitude of rocks can become a major problem. Thankfully, removing surface rocks is much easier than having to go deep. The following methods should help prepare your yard for most basic landscaping needs.

Removing Small Rocks

Although grass can grow over rocky soil, the risk of damaging your lawnmower or other equipment make it necessary to remove the rocks. Planting a garden requires even more stone removal. You can do this with only a rototiller and garden rake.

Using a rototiller, slowly loosen the soil. This will break up the dirt and expose large rocks. Place these rocks into a wheelbarrow as they are uncovered.

Once you have finished rototilling the area, use a garden rake to pull any stones from the soil and into a pile. You can then place the stones into the wheelbarrow or save them for lining paths or garden beds.

Creating a Sieve for Your Wheelbarrow

When working on a larger yard, raking might be too slow of a process. Thankfully, you can build a sieve that fits onto your wheelbarrow, allowing you to sift out larger stones with little effort. For this project, you will need:

  • Four pieces of treated two-by-four lumber
  • Four pieces of treated one-by-four lumber
  • Four strips of treated 1.5 inch thick lumber
  • Good staple gun
  • Hardware cloth

You will need to measure your wheelbarrow to find the dimensions before beginning.

  1. Cut two of the two-by-fours to the length of your wheelbarrow or the width of your hardware cloth, if the latter is shorter. The other two should be cut three inches shorter than the width of your wheelbarrow. In the event your wheelbarrow tapers, you will want to use the larger width.
  2. Create a box frame by driving nails or screws through the ends of the side boards into the tips of the shorter boards.
  3. Starting in one corner, staple down one side of the hardware cloth to the underside of the frame. You can drive in a screw or small nail on the opposite corner to pull the cloth tight. This will help keep the cloth taught as you staple that corner down.
  4. Nail the 1.5 inch lumber to the underside to further secure the hardware cloth and help prevent breakage.
  5. Finally, nail the one-by-four boards along the sides, allowing them to overhang on the bottom to hold the sieve in place. In the event your wheelbarrow is longer than the frame, you may cut the board from that side into two smaller pieces to fit more securely on the front of the wheelbarrow.
  6. You may then place the sieve on the wheelbarrow and shovel dirt onto it, allowing the hardware cloth to catch any larger stones while the soil and smaller aerating pebbles are deposited into the wheelbarrow.

Removing Excess Pebbles or Gravel

In the event you are removing an old gravel path or large amounts of debris, you can finish up with a leaf rake to separate small pebbles from the soil. As these pebbles normally help with drainage, they should be left in a new garden or landscaped area under normal circumstances.

Note that removing all pebbles from an area will allow the soil to pack down and may create flooding risks over time.

Removing Boulders

© ironstuffy / Adobe Stock

Removing boulders can be a lot more difficult than simply loosening and raking the soil. You will need several pieces of equipment and some elbow grease to complete the task.

Removing Small to Medium-Sized Boulders

Gather all the necessary tools before starting. These include:

  • Feathers and wedges (Feathers are hooked metal pieces that you place a wedge between. As the wedge is driven in, it pushes the feathers apart, allowing you to split rocks.)
  • Hammer drill
  • Mallet
  • Pointed Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Once you have everything you need, take a deep breath and dig in – literally.

  1. Using a pointed shovel, excavate around the boulder until it is completely uncovered. Place it into the wheelbarrow, if you are able.
  2. For larger boulders, you will need to drill holes using the hammer drill and insert the feathers and wedges. You can then drive the latter in using a mallet to split the boulders into smaller stones.

Removing Large Boulders

Some boulders are too big to easily split. These you will have to shift using a leverage system. For this, you will need:

  • Chain or four-inch nylon straps
  • Iron pipe
  • Piece of six-by-six inch lumber
  • Piece of two-by-six inch lumber
  • Pry bar

Moving a large boulder takes some time, and you should take breaks as needed to avoid over-exertion. Thankfully, you have three ways to move the boulder, depending upon the circumstances:

  1. Begin by sticking a pry bar under the boulder and wedging a piece of six-by-six lumber under the bar to create a fulcrum. Pull the bar back against the lumber to dislodge the boulder. You will have to repeat these two steps several times to shift the boulder across your yard.
  2. Lay a piece of two-by-six lumber on top of several sturdy iron pipes beside the boulder. Using the previous method, shift the boulder onto this platform. You may now slowly move the platform out of the yard, although you will have to pause frequently as the platform clears a pipe so that you may put the pipe in front of your makeshift sled.
  3. When the opportunity arises, it is best to get a truck or tractor involved. Shift the boulder as mentioned in step 1 until you are able to wrap a chain or some four-inch nylon straps around it. Attach the other end of your chain or nylon to the tow hitch of your vehicle and use its horsepower to tow the boulder out of the way.

How To Remove Rocks From Soil The Easy Way

Before we go into the steps of separating rocks from dirt, we first need to understand why rocks are a problem and why how they got there in the first place.

Why Are Rocks In Soil?

Homeowners who live in an area that experience temperatures that can freeze the ground will be most familiar with the miraculous appearance of rocks in the ground. Those who live on the east coast of the US even have a special name for this phenomena – they call them “New England potatoes!”

Rocks are more capable of conducting heat than the soil. The rock will conduct the heat away from the warm soil under the rock. This will cause the soil under the rock to freeze before the surrounding soil.

When the water in the soil under the rock freezes, it will expand and push the rock upward. Once the ground thaws, the area from where the rock was will fill with dirt. Over time and with repeated freezing and thawing, this is what causes rocks to “magically” appear in your garden.

The worst part is, these rocks, if you aren’t aware that they are in your garden, can cause some serious damage if you run over them with your tiller or cultivator. Why? Not only could to rock damage your machine, but it could be flung out from under the machine, thus potentially hurting you, your property, or someone else.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that if you leave the rocks in your soil, it could deprive your plants the space they need to grow. Over time, the rocks could cause in soil over-crowding and could weaken the plant or even cause them to die.

How To Remove Rocks From Soil

For a healthy garden, it’s important that you remove rocks from the dirt. It will require a bit of effort and patience, but when you take the time, it’ll be well worth it in the long run.

The only materials you will need to begin removing rocks from the yard will be a shovel, a bucket, and a screen or net that will be used for separating rocks from dirt.

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