Rocks can make for a great landscaping accessory but they are not necessarily for everyone. Perhaps you have moved into a new home that has rocks in the yard and want to get rid of them as soon as you can to start landscaping the way you want.
Sure, rocks can be decorative but they can also potentially stunt plant growth. They can block the roots from being able to reach the water and nutrients that they need to grow while also making the soil still over time.
So if you are looking to get rid of the rocks in your yard, there are quite a few ways to do so. But it all depends on the type of rocks that are in your yard to begin with.
Rock Removal Tools
There are quite a bit of tools that can help you with your rock problem. Depending on how much you want to spend or how much work you want to put in, any of these should do the trick.
A rototiller, for instance, will help you to break up your soil and expose any large rocks that are embedded in the soil. This will also help expose some smaller rocks that are buried beneath the surface.
You can rent one for somewhere between $25 to $50 a day, depending on the size of the rototiller that you go with.
For loose rocks or gravel on the surface of your garden or in your grass, a garden rake is actually a practical tool to use. They are relatively cheap, depending on the size of rake that you choose, and can get the job done relatively easily.
If you don’t want to go with a rototiller, a pointed shovel is a good idea to have. It can dig out some of those rocks, allowing you to free them from the soil so that you can rake them or just remove them straightaway.
Gardening gloves will help to keep your hands protected, especially if you are using a rake or picking the rocks out by hand. Getting blisters from picking out or raking the rocks can make the entire experience painful and tougher to finish.
Lastly, you’ll want a wheelbarrow. Removing a couple of rocks is no big deal. Removing a lot of rocks can be difficult, time-consuming, and heavy. Having a wheelbarrow gives you the flexibility to remove a lot of rocks all at once.
If you don’t have one, though, they can get a little pricey — up to $120 on the high end. So keep that in mind if you need to grab one before removing the rocks from your yard.
Removing Rocks or Gravel From Your Yard
This is actually the easy part because the rocks or gravel are loose. You can simply start by shoveling as much of the gravel or rocks as you can into the wheelbarrow.
When you’ve gotten the bulk of it with the shovel, use your rake to start moving the leftover pieces into a pile and shovel that pile into the wheelbarrow.
There are some homeowners who use what is known as a geotextile cloth underneath their decorative gravel.
This can make the process of removing the gravel easier. You can shovel away the large quantities first and then lift up the cloth to remove the bits of gravel that are left over.
When the rocks are in the soil, however, it can become a more difficult task to get rid of the rocks and gravel completely. Depending on how long those rocks and gravel have been there, they can embed in the soil and require more work to remove.
First, assess your situation. Know how the rock situation looks so that you can determine what tools you need to get the job done. The aforementioned list is a pretty good indicator of what you will need.
Use your rototiller to break up the soil so that you can get out the rocks that have been embedded in. Move slowly so that the tiller can break up the soil without hitting the rocks. Take some time to stop and pick up any of the larger rocks as you go.
When you have removed the larger rocks and placed them in the wheelbarrow so that they are out of the way, now it is time to remove those smaller rocks and gravel. Use your rake to move through the loose soil, sifting out the small rocks as you go.
Rake those rocks into a pile as neatly as you can then use your shovel to scoop that majority up and into your wheelbarrow. When you get down to the last few pieces of rock and gravel, you may have to pick them up by hand but it should be a small amount.
Removing Large Boulders
There are properties that use large, decorative boulders in the yard. If you want to get rid of these huge rocks, it can be done but it will take a little bit of work to accomplish.
The first step is to dig all the way around the boulder. This will give you a good indication of how deep that rock is sitting into the ground. Keep going until you have uncovered the entirety of the rock and loosen as much of the soil around it as possible so that you can pry it loose.
For larger rocks, it is important to work smarter. Those rocks can be extremely heavy, resulting in back and knee injuries if you try to lift them by yourself. Try to get someone to help you to help lift the rock into the wheelbarrow, if at all possible.
If you are on your own, you can also pry the rock out of the ground using a pry bar and a 6×6 piece of wood. Best of all, you can even use that piece of wood to roll the rock across a level yard. It all depends on just how big that rock is.
Reusing the Rocks
You don’t necessarily have to get rid of all of the rocks that you just dug up. Repurpose them and place them in other areas of the yard. You can do things such as building a new retaining wall for a garden or pond, creating a garden walkway path, and more.
It may seem as though it defeats the purpose to remove the rocks only to use them again but it all depends on the situation. When you move into a new home, there can be rocks on the property that don’t work for you from an aesthetic standpoint.
Being able to pick them up and move them where you want to can change the overall look of the yard.
At the end of the day, rock removal is relatively easy but it will take a little bit of grunt work to get done. Survey the scene, understand the tools that you need, and take a practical approach to the situation.
For larger rocks, bring in some help to save your back and knees potential trouble. When your rocks have been removed, you are free to transform the rest of your yard into the garden aesthetic that you have been after.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel