We always say that rocks are the bane of every gardener’s existence. Every yard has them, but they are one of those things that nobody ever talks about. They are just there, hidden in the grass or buried under mulch. Those big rocks that somebody placed on the front walkway during the last ice age have been there for years. We know it, but we never do anything about them.
More and more neighbors are learning that rocks in the yard can be a real problem. When you plant a shrub, the rocks are hidden under topsoil and gravel mulch which means that they will never rot away. When you put in a new lawn, the rocks are hidden under bark or thatch which means that they will never go away. When you place a tree in the yard, rocks have a tendency to form a barrier which means that they will not allow for deep roots.
How To Remove Rocks From The Yard: So, what do you do?
The simple answer is that you must remove the rocks from the yard. How you go about it, however, can be a little more difficult than it seems. Here are some tips to help you with this process.
Rocks In The Yard: Do They Go Or Stay?
The first thing you have to do is decide whether the rocks are going or staying. If they are part of someone’s landscaping, then they are probably staying. If they are all jagged and stuck together in a weird formation, then they probably go. If your neighbor bought the rocks in a bag to put around the tree, then they probably go. If you got them from a gravel pit or washed them up on the shore of a lake, then they probably stay.
Stocking Up: Ladders and Shovels
Before you start prying rocks from the earth, you need to make sure that you have everything that you need. Shovels, buckets, wheelbarrows, and ladders are the bare minimum. You will also want to be sure that you have some gloves and a makeshift mask. Rocks can do real damage to your hands and lungs.
You will probably want to consider renting a front-end loader or hiring some strong young men to help you with this job.
Removing Rocks: Zig Zag and Rotate
If you are working by yourself, then plan on spending at least half a day digging up the rocks. If you have some help, then two people can do this job in an hour or less.
The first thing you need to do is take your shovel and dig up the grass around the rock. If you are removing a large rock, then you should try to dig up the grass in at least a three-foot radius. Once that is done, begin digging up the rock.
Remember that rocks are still attached to the dirt that they are in, so you need to use your shovel to pull up small chunks of dirt along with the rock. This takes time and effort, but it is worth it in the end.
You should continue this process on all sides of the rock, but do not actually remove it from its resting place. If you leave some dirt still attached to the rock, then the rock will be much easier to remove.
When you are ready to lift the rock up, use your shovel to begin loosening it from the dirt. Rock climbing picks are great tools for this, but a shovel is sufficient in most cases. Once you have lifted one side of the rock, use your shovel to pull it upwards.
Rotating the rock over and over again will eventually get the entire thing loose from the dirt. It helps to have at least four hands when you are doing this, but it is possible to do it all by yourself.
Remember that rocks are heavy if they are large, which is why it might be a good idea to have wheels.
Moving The Rocks: Wheels and Piles
Once you have removed the rocks, it is time to move them. It is recommended that you separate the rocks by type and size before you do anything else. After you do that, it is recommended that you either take them to a dump or find someone who wants to buy them for landscaping.
Make sure that you only handle the rocks when you absolutely have to because they can cut and bruise your skin. They are not poisonous, but they could have jagged edges that might cut you.
If you want to keep the rocks, then it is recommended that you use a wheelbarrow. Rocks are not terribly heavy, but they can still be difficult to handle on your own.
Once you have moved them somewhere else in your yard, you can store them until you are ready to use them.
If there are any other rocks that are still attached to the dirt, then simply use your shovel to pry them up.
What To Do To Your Yard After You Remove The Rocks
Now that you have removed the rocks from your yard, it is time to fix everything. Use a rake to level the dirt and make it smooth. Try to remove any loose grass or dirt that you can find, then add some new sod and fertilizer if necessary.
If you plan on planting anything in your yard, make sure that there is at least a foot of soil under the dirt.
In some instances, it might be better to hire somebody to remove the rocks for you. The reason that people choose this method is that they do not have the time, equipment, or energy to complete this task.
Sometimes, people do this because they simply want the rocks gone and do not care about anything else. If you feel like this method is right for you, then you should hire somebody who has experience with this type of work.
How To Remove Rocks From The Yard: Final Thoughts
Removing rocks from your yard can be a difficult and frustrating process, but it is worth the effort if you plan on planting anything new in that area. By using the stated methods, you should be able to remove the rocks without too much trouble, but if you are still having problems, then it is time to consider hiring somebody to handle it for you.
Related article: How much does a cubic yard of dirt weigh?