Rock removal advice

peakbagger66April 7, 2009

Hello all - I am prepping my backyard for planting of grass seed. I loosened up some soil the other day and came up with a lot of rocks. They range from 1/2 inch to 8 inches to 12 inches in size. I can remove the big rocks no problem, but, the smaller rocks are quite numerous. What sizes should I ignore? Should I remove all, as much as I can?

I walked over to a neighboring plot which is being prepped for a foundation pour. The following two photos show what the soil looks like just after being dug up. I included a quarter for size reference.

The following two photos show what our backyard looks like after doing a test dig on a small section:

I have read in several online "how-tos" that one should remove rocks down to 5 or 6 inches. They never say what SIZE I should be concerned with. As you can see, there's a bunch!

This evening, I built a make-shift soil shifter out of some 1/2 inch screen and 2x4's. It worked really well. However, the prospect of digging up 1500 sq ft of yard makes me a bit queasy. Not to mention disrupting the soil structure and sub surface microsystems and bringing up buried weed seeds, but if I have to I will. Motorized vehicles pulling a rock hounds are not an option because the yard is divided into 3 small areas, about 7 to 10 ft wide.

How much can I get away with? Do I need to sweat the small stuff?


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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Can you hire two teenagers to do the heavy lifting for you? Promise them they can keep all the quarters they find in the dirt ;-)

If you want the rocks out, the screen is, by far, the easiest way I've ever seen. They can rake the really big ones out. I would screen with quarter inch "hardware cloth," from the hardware store. Nail it to a 2x4 frame about 2 feet by 4 feet, set the frame on cinder blocks, and all they have to do is shovel the dirt in, empty the rocks, and eat pizza. Five or six inches deep should be good.

What to do with the rocks? Wash them, polish them as necessary, varnish them as necessary, and use them as mulch on top of pots. Or you can match similar rocks and use them in centerpieces, fountains or rock features in the garden.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 2:02PM
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No one and I mean no has more rocks than I do, huge, tiny, rock shelves, u name it. Basically what I did was pull out the most I could (this required a lot of heavy lifting), use a couple of different size rakes to collect them and then brought in some dirt which I only used to cover about in inch and only in areas where there was still alot of rocks that i couldn't get out. Then I threw down some rye and watered alot. I have a posting right now up that you'll see where I'm trying to get the grass to be greener but basically with these few steps I got a fairly decent lawn and I started from nothing with nothing but rocks. I read all those things too about digging down and getting rid of every darn rock but that was just an impossibility. So feel free to drive yourself crazy or be happy with I got, a pretty nice lawn.This pic only shows the back, I have the same amount in the front too. I'm still working on it to get it as best I can but this pic is after only 1 year.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 4:01PM
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He's right you cannot pick them all up. Just remove the obvious big ones. Fertilize like crazy, mow it high, and mulch. You will have a great looking lawn and will build soil over a period of time from mulching. Did you not see the for sale sign when you bought that place? It said, "Rock quarry for sale."

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 2:48AM
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That's funny rdaystrom because that is what they say about my property, so i'll let u slide on the stereotype...I'm a SHE not a HE!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 9:58AM
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