please help! rock problem

poppycat13May 31, 2012

Hi! I'm a 1st time home owner without much gardening/landscaping experience and could use some help. The owners who previously owned my house put rocks down in beds around the bushes and mailbox. I really want to remove the rocks and replace them with something natrual where I can plant flowers and other plants but I have no idea on the best way to do this. I'd like to do it myself unless It's very difficult and need to hire a landscaper. Can anyone give me some advice? Thank you!

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I guess I don't understand your question. Why would it be "difficult"? Are the rocks large boulders that would need heavy equipment or a team of strong men to move them? Usually when someone says "put rocks down in beds" I tend to think of the kind of stone that is used as mulch, lava rock, pea gravel or beach pebbles, or limestone chips. That shouldn't be difficult to remove, get a shovel, a rake, some buckets or other containers to put the rocks in, and remove them.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 6:39PM
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Like I said I don't know anything about this kind of thing...I asked because different people told me different things and some suggested a landscaper because its on half of a huge yard and would take one person forever to rake them alone. This websites for gardeners so I figured they could suggest something different. I was wondering if there was a easier way to get large amounts taken sorry I didn't clarify but I'm not an idiot. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:33PM
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I've had these and the best way is with a shovel and a wheel barrow.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Depending on how large of an area you are talking about..... you could rent a tractor with a large bucket and use a screen to separate the dirt.... it would be very expensive to do it this way, but if the area is large enough it would be something to consider..

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:17AM
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Sometimes it just takes a lot of work to clean up the nightmare that was someone else's good idea.

Pick an area - say around the mail box - and skim up the rocks with a shovel into a bucket or wheelbarrow or onto a tarp. A relatively small area will give you an idea of what you're up against, how deep a rock layer you've got, etc.

Easy to make a sieve/screen. I took the measurements of the top of my wheelbarrow - bought and had Home Depot cut a board into 4 pieces to make a box frame; nailed on some screen... I use it to sift compost, but it would be sturdy enough for a shovel full of decorative landscaping rocks.

It seems less a hire out situation than a couple of seasons of hard work. Are the rocks around the foundation shrubbery, in separate garden areas, around trees?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:02AM
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I've seen ads for people trying to give them away on Craigslist. I don't know how successful they are but it's worth a shot.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:06AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Poppy, no one is assuming you are an idiot if we ask for more information about what you're dealing with. People have had all sorts of cockamamie ideas about what kinds of rock it is a good idea to put in beds, and the removal task is different every time; also depending on what kind of soil and other conditions you are dealing with.

That said, no matter what the rock, the task is not "difficult" but it is hard, tedious work. That is why if people ask this forum about PUTTING rock in beds, they usually get advice NOT to do it. Whether to hire it out depends on your physical and financial capabilities and your time. Also it is not elegant work, as is true of much in gardening. It's hands-and-knees work.

Tools you can use to tease the rocks out of soil, depending on the size of the rocks, are a hand cultivator, a regular rake (probably stiff, not flexible), a rock rake (search the Lee Valley site), or a sieve as described by Duluth above (Lee Valley sells those too, so do many retailers). Shovels and your hands are good for scooping or picking them up. If the rocks are big or the area small, your hands may be the best way to go. You need containers to put them in. At the end, you can put them in or on something that lets the water drain away, and hose them off, so that someone will get them from you when you post them for free on craigslist :-)

You can do it as one big task, or it might be more manageable to do each area as you get to in your weeding or planting.

There is also a remote possibility that there is landscape fabric under your stones, which would be the rare case where you would be happy to see it.

Karin L

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 11:12AM
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Fori is not pleased

Do invest in a really good garden cart.

I don't know what possesses people to curse future homeowners with rocks...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:45PM
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All you need is a collection of buckets and a few neighborhood kids.
Pay them a dollar a bucket for collected rocks.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 8:14AM
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Just as a fork matches a plate and a spoon matches a bowl, you'll need a FLAT shovel in order to separate rock mulch without getting too much dirt mixed with it.

Karin L., liked your comment: "There is also a remote possibility that there is landscape fabric under your stones, which would be the rare case where you would be happy to see it." ... something we seem to agree on 100%!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 11:56AM
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I think poppy means small stones, such as pea gravel. I had such a problem years ago, and used my kids wagon to remove the gravel. If you don't have a wagon, maybe you could buy one from a thrift store or maybe borrow one from one of the kids in the neighborhood. It's still a lot of work, but pulling a wagon is a lot easier that pushing a wheel barrow, at least imo, but i'm only a little over 100 lbs. ;o)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Pay them a dollar a bucket for collected rocks.

For the Downton Abbey fans: an employee of mine was old enough to remember collecting buckets of stones from a field ahead of the plough and being paid a penny a bucket. In his story there was the evil foreman who would insist on the bucket being filled to the top and the resultant punishment. I guess if you factor in the changing times, exchange rate and inflation and what kids today want to do with a dollar: good luck with that.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 4:29PM
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Does anyone have any suggestions on downplaying the appearance of rock used as mulch? We just moved into a new home and the previous homeowners installed red lava rock (golf ball sized) in the front flower beds. There is a barrier fabric underneath and I don't necessarily want to remove the rocks even though it's not really our choice for aesthetics.

I should add we live in an area with a large deer population and the previous owners didn't seem to understand what deer will and will not disturb. The same front gardens currently only contain hosta stubs (currently look like celery stalks), some ornamental grass tufts, small boxwoods and evergreens and a small boulder. I've added black eyed susans and blue salvia in pots flanking the front door. I'd like to add some sustainable color throughout!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Shingdigsbyschwartz start a new thread with pictures so we can get an idea of the magnitude of the problem.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 12:35PM
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