How To Remove Rocks From Yard And Soil

Old man removing stones from his garden with a rake

Removing rocks from your yard could be a challenging thing to do, but it’s worth it, especially if it’s blocking an important area around your house.

You’ll first need to clear the area of any dirt that could be accumulating around the rocks. You will then need to place those rocks in a specified area.

I’ve been removing rocks for a couple of years on my farm, and these are the tricks and tips I’ve learned throughout the years.

In this article, you’ll learn how to remove rocks from a yard efficiently and safely. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to be as organized as possible to avoid moving the rocks two or more times.

Tools you need for rock removal

These are the best tools to remove rocks from a yard. With these tools, you can move most rocks from your garden.


Man removing rocks from the ground with a pickaxe

This is my favorite tool to use when removing rocks from my yard. I prefer the picks with a fiberglass handle because they are lighter. A pickaxe will help you break a large stone into smaller pieces; so, it’s easier to carry.

You can also use a pick to separate the rock from the soil. A pickaxe is a useful tool that every gardener should have.


A rake will help you remove all the leaves in your yard, but you could also use it to remove smaller rocks. However, if you are using a rake to move the rocks around, you need to ensure the rake is strong enough to handle the rock’s weight.


Shovel: Another useful tool that will help you scoop rocks, gravel, and soil.


Grey wheelbarrow and shovel next to a pile of gravel

If you are moving the rocks from one area to another one, you will need a wheelbarrow to do so.


Ideally, you would use heavier equipment only when it’s necessary because you don’t want to disturb the soil and compact it. However, sometimes using a rototiller will save you time and energy in the long run.

Roll-off dumpster

If you need to move large boulders, or you are working on a big area, renting a roll-off dumpster could be your best option. Make sure you know how to use this machine; if not, hire a qualified person to do the job for you.


A tractor could save you time, money, and energy, especially if you plan the job. Observe the area where you need to bring in the tractor, and focus on the things you want to achieve.

Now that you know the tools needed to remove the stones from the soil, don’t forget to put on a pair of gardening gloves to avoid blisters, and off you go!

What are the best ways to remove rocks from my yard?

The method will be different depending on the type of rock you have.

Small rocks

It is necessary to remove small rocks from the soil to prepare a new garden bed. The great news is that when rocks are small, they tend to be on the topsoil, instead of being buried deep down.

Stones removed by hand from garden soil

Usually, you won’t need to use any special garden tool to remove these rocks. You could simply dig them out!

And if the stones are on the really small side (4 inches or less) you could use a sieve to remove the smaller ones.

Place the sieve inside the wheelbarrow, and pour all the dirt on top of it. You can then move the sieve so the rocks will stay on top whereas the soil will fall down.


Boulders are challenging because not only are they heavier, but they also take longer to be moved around, especially if you don’t have big machines or the right equipment.

A pickaxe will only get you so far. What I usually do is observe the area I’ll be working on to determine the rocks or boulders I need to move.

I use my rototiller to break up all the soil and see the larger rocks. If I find boulders, I hire someone with a tractor and roll-off dumpster to do the job for me.

tractor removing rocks stuck in a garden

It may be an expensive investment, but I tend to do several jobs at once, so my investment pays itself off.

If, on the other hand, the boulders or rocks are medium sizes and I think I could remove them from the yard, I will use the pickaxe first.

I will then rake all the dirt around the larger rocks, and with a shovel, I will scop them out.

Carefully, I’ll place the rocks inside the wheelbarrow, and move them to a more suitable destination.

I’ll also make sure to work on the area that has been left uncovered or without rocks by placing mulch.


Are rocks good for the soil?

Rocks have been around for thousands of centuries, and they are an essential piece of the earth’s puzzle. However, rocks could cause serious problems in a garden, especially when they are just under the topsoil.

Wherever there are rocks, roots cannot travel far. If you aim to have a productive garden, you should remove all the big stones.

However, having small stones in the ground allows the drainage of water in excess and avoids having a too muddy garden.

Do rocks drain better than grass?

Rocks drain better than grass because they have spaces between them, so all the water will travel and seep through these empty areas.

Therefore, water will be released and not puddle, unlike grass, which tends to puddle.

How do I remove gravel from my yard?

You should first separate the gravel from the soil, if possible. Do this with a rake and place it inside a wheelbarrow. Locate it in your desired area.

Will a landscape rake remove rocks?

A landscape rake will remove unwanted rocks; however, you will need to purchase a really good quality rake.

Ideally, the landscape rake you will use is made of steel; these rakes tend to be really strong and will help you get the results you are looking for.


Removing rocks from an area could be a challenging activity but it’s not an impossible thing to do. The phrase “my yard is full of rocks” will no longer be true with a little elbow grease.

Make sure you follow these tips and be careful when moving the rocks. Do remember to rest; you don’t want to move rocks while being tired!

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