Best way to remove rocks from yard

I like talking about the 2 things I found interesting when I bought my current home…one, the grass looked healthy and immaculate.

But on the hand, the soil in the backyard was extremely rocky. I don’t know how this had escaped me but it meant that I had to quickly find out the best way to remove rocks from yard since I was planning to plant new grass.

The rock sizes were varied ..some were equal to bowling balls while a few were the size of golf balls.

Many were in between.

As it turns out, you have so many options as far as clearing the unsightly boulders from your yard is concerned.

Well, my new neighbor had promised to convince his 2 teenage sons to help me out (I am still waiting- 5 years later)..

Obviously, I am now clever and have garnered lots of knowledge about removing gravel from your soil.

So, can I take you right into this?

The Best Method to Remove Rocks from the Yard

The best way to remove rocks from yard will depend on how dense are the rocks and how big is your yard.

From a ¼ acre, you can consider motorized methods such as mini-tractors and tractor attachments.

Others include heavy-duty machines such as rock pickers and diggers.

For a small area,manual home tools can work.

First, let’s look at how you can take advantage of simple, readily available tools to overcome the rocky menace.

Simple methods to remove rocks

Using tools such as rakes and shovels is cheaper- since you most likely have them- and convenient since you are already familiar with their operation.

But you will need to be patient and perhaps have some reservoirs of energy especially if you have a significant amount of boulders in your landscape.

Here is how to remove gravel from yard without investing in special equipment:

  • Raking

Raking will help either to move gravel from one part of your yard to another or to gather the rocks together for easier collection.

  • Shoveling

You can use a shovel to dig out all the small boulders. But ensure you dig deep and also scoop everything.

This may help you to net the tiny rocks hiding in the ground.

  • Manual hand picking

Smaller rocks are easier to clear especially if they’re not many.

You can hand pick them instead of shoveling as it conserves your energy. Involving your family can make the exercise fun and faster.

  • Digging Them Out Using a Bar

A steel digging bar can be very practical in removing medium-sized stones.

You will need it to be long and to have a tapered end for an easy operation.

We use the bar to apply pressure underneath stubborn rocks and unless the rocks are cemented, it can go a long way in popping them out.

  • Screening/filtering out gravel

Go around your yard picking out rocks with a wagon can be tedious. A smart alternative is you make a mesh-wire screen.

Once ready, you will then fill it with soil and shake. The rocks will be sifted and be ready for collection in a short while.

What you’ll need:

For these simple tactics, you will use typical garden tools including:

  • A Rake

For rocks, only rakes with tough teeth will do. Remember some rakes are purposed for removing leaves and would bend or break if you attempt to rake rocks with them

  • A Wheelbarrow

Once you gather the rocks, you’ll need to move them from your garden.

A wheelbarrow can be your perfect transportation aid.

  • Gloves

To avoid injuring your hands- especially when handpicking- always wear quality gloves.

  • A Steel bar

This will help dig out some of the deep-lying big rocks.

  • A Shovel or a Garden Hoe

You can shovel buried rocks. A garden hoe can be a fantastic alternative when faced with these types of boulders.

  • Bucket

If you are dealing with reduced amount of rocks, you can use a bucket to move them away from your backyard instead of a wheelbarrow.

The best thing about buckets is that you can go with it to parts of your garden where wheelbarrows can’t reach, for example, slanted and slippery zones.

  • Screen/Sifter

As I had mentioned, a mesh-wire screen can help you sift stones thereby simplify the whole process

Hand tools that help in getting rid of rocks in yard

1. True Temper 20-Inches Multi-Purposed Steel Lawn Rake - 2000TT

This hand rock rake performs exceedingly well in raking rocks. Its head is 20-inch wide and curved enabling it to crowd a big load with every pass.

The tines are made of tough-grade steel so they are not scared of hardy rocks.

And with a comfortably cushioned handle, you can work for longer without tiring.

The other lovable feature is its 54-inch long arm which enables it to reach gravel under the fence.

2. RAKE ASSASSIN 3-in-1 Garden Tool (Rake/shovel/skim)

If you want a tool that goes beyond the question of how to get rid of rocks in yard, then this can be a perfect garden servant.

With it, you will rake and gather the boulders. Then you can also use it to haul and dump them away from your landscape

And it’s designed with your anatomy in mind so you don’t have to bend as you work.

 Its aluminum hand is 58-inches long and will reach stones hiding beneath objects. It’s also very light.

3. Midwest Rake Company 11036 Rocks Screening Rake

With unique non-gouging rounded teeth, this works wonderfully in not only raking but also in sifting stones

And with a width of 36-inches, you can be sure it gathers a lot every turn.

The tines are made of a mixture of high-grade aluminum and magnesium and hold up well against shapeless boulders

The resilient aluminum handle is even longer at 66-inches and feels very strong even when pushing stones.

In addition, it has a safe non-slip vinyl grip

4. Sand Beach Pond/River/Lake Rake

The rocks found in shorelines are the toughest and can easily break your rake.

And so if your yard is full of such confrontational stones, you’ll need a tool which is similarly combative.

This rake is designed to help you capture all big and small boulders in your landscape.

It easily picks them up, and then sifts the soil, before dumping them.

It’s sturdy, light, and slanted at a nice angle to help make your work easier.

5. Toolite 49492 #2 Square Shovel, 48-inches Wood Handle

rock sifter

By all standards, this is one the best shovel tool for rocks.

Its blades quickly release mud while the chores are reinforced with fiberglass to make them durable.

The steel heads are heavy-duty and will neither break nor bend.

It’s wider and will scoop more soil than typical shovels.

I also noted that it’s lighter than many of its peers.

Being ergonomic, you’ll work for longer with less fatigue

And even though it’s wooden, don’t expect the handle to break- it’s very thick.

6. RockHound 72B Heavy-duty Landscape Rake

If you have a big yard, and you are dealing with huge volumes of stones, the best way would be you go for industrial grade landscape rock removal equipment

This magnificent rake will pick up everything- from tiny rocks all the way to even those larger than 8-inches- and load them in a bucket in one run.

Its tooth bars are high strength and easily replaceable.

The top cover opens up to enable you to easily dump gathered stones.

You can also attach it to your tractor using a separate adapter if you want a quick job.

Professional tools for rock removal

In the meantime, some rocks could be too big and cannot be moved with anything but professional- equipment.

Of course, you can work the biggest stones to become beautiful landscaping pieces but if not, the good news is that these tools need less effort and do a thorough job.

Here are some of the special tools and implements you can rely on if you are looking for professional results.

Best rock removal attachments for tractor

A machine to pick up rocks in yard such as a rock removal attachment for tractor saves you time and energy.

Although expensive, these expertly excavate giant stones that would otherwise be too much for your small hands.

Now, since it was my first time to consider tractor attachments, I decided to snoop around and see what the market had to offer.

​Related product reviews and guides: Best men winter gloves

Tell you what?

I found so many mighty options on Amazon and Degelman.

My favorite was the BobCat skid steer.

I like calling it the small magician because of how it works.

It loosens the soil nicely, levels the ground, and skillfully brings out the rocks to the land.

1. Landscape Rock Rake /Gravel Lawn Tow-Behind Tractor 5ft York (3-Point Soil)

With heat-treated replaceable steel tines, this efficiently handles heavy rocks and amasses them together with the rest with a few passes.

It rotates 360 degrees and can also rake in reverse so it easily gets hold of the stones lying under fences.

It’s well made and easy to assemble while the price is affordable.

Lastly, it needs very little maintenance.

2. Agri-Fab 45-0366 Rock RakeGround-EngagingAttachment Sleeve Hitch (GT)

For large lawns, you’ll need an attachment with a wider working width so as to minimize the time it takes to clear the landscape.

This has a 48-inch working width and quickly collects rocks from large yards.

Again its 1/4" steel tangs are heat-treated giving them the toughness and strength necessary to pick large boulders without bending or breaking.

It’s a heavy-weight attachment rake and works well even in uneven yards.

3. 72-inch Root Grapple Rake Attachment rock tractor Skid Steer Loaderbobcat

A “bobcat” (skit steer loader) is a popular compact gravel scooping machine.

It fetches rocks, dumps them into the carrier, and also levels the ground ready for planting.

Its 72-inch grapple rake can pick everything – including the odd shaped stones.

The wide opening grabs and holds a large load of rocks at once reducing the time required to clear your ground.

Its 24-inch long teeth easily lift heavy boulders, studs, and other heavy debris.

Attaching a bobcat to a tractor is straightforward thanks to its universal hookup.

4. Kolpin 60-Inch Landscape Rock Rake - LSR60

You can set this machine to remove rocks from soil to 5 different angles for an improved rock collection job.

The rest of the features make it a reliable performer:

They include the 60-inch working width which provides one of the widest coverage.

Then we have the 16-inch long tines which have been hardened to enable the tool to rake larger rocks without giving in.

As expected, the 3-point hitch system maximizes traction and ensures the attachment is stable even when pulling heavy rocks.

Large rock removal from yard

As we said, large boulders are more difficult to remove because they are heavy to lift.

Apart from using the tractor attachments and other vehicles, you still have some more cool options:

  • Split the boulders

Rather than bother your neighbor by asking them to help you roll the stone to the fridges, you can split it into smaller pieces which you can easily carry into your wheelbarrow.

Here is how to break big rocks:

Use feather and wedges 

You drill holes into the rocks using your electric rotary hammer, blow lingering dust (from the holes) before finally dropping 2 feathers and a wedge into every whole.

You then pound the wedges (into the holes) using a heavy sledgehammer until cracks show up.

Use Chemical Compounds/Powders

If you find the feather-wedge method tiring, you can use popular powders such as Dexpan to silently crack the rocks.

As you will see below, these compounds are pretty easy to use: you just drill holes, mix the compound, apply it to the hole then wait for cracks galore!

​Related product reviews and guides: Best extra large lightweight planters

Use a jackhammer/Sledgehammer

Rock breaking tools such as sledgehammers and jackhammers help in breaking up the biggest, hard-to-lift rocks.

Though energy sapping, they help you breakup the rocks into the desired smaller and manageable pieces.

Again, out of curiosity, I wanted to see what rock splitting aids are out there.

Here is what impressed me…

1. Dexpan Expansive Oversized Rocks Demolition Grout 11 Lb.

Instead of struggling with a sledgehammer or feather and wedges for splitting rocks, you can go for this powerful powder.

And it’s very simple to use:

You drill some 1.5-inches diameter holes into the giant boulder. Then, take a bucket and mix 1.5 liters (of water) with one 11 lbs. bag of the powder- ensure you mix well.

After about 10-15 minutes, pour the mixture into your holes.

After 24 hours, your rock will have broken into pieces.

The best bit is that this lethal chemical works silently and won’t spare any rock.

2. Ecobust USA Rock Breaking Non-Combustive Demolition Agent

This is another rock demolition agent. You still drill holes, mix, and then pour the mixture.

It’s so energetic and kills even the hardest stones within a couple of hours.

It’s easier to mix and apply.

It also leaves little carbon footprint and is recommended by environmentalists.

And just like the Dexpan powder, it’s a silent killer!

3. Best Choice 22-Ounce All-Steel Rock Hammer ,Pointed Tip, 11-Inch

Still, on how to break large rocks by hand, a good hammer can do- and I mean a good hammer.

This all-steel hammer is specially engineered and destroys rocks effortlessly.

The pointed tip and heavier head(22-oz.)plus the 11-in. long handle help balance power-to-weight to great effect.

When you are striking the tough boulders, its unique design increases your swing speed and multiplies the striking power breaking up everything into smithereens.

And the ergonomically designed rubber grip ensures that swinging won’t shock or injure your wrist.

4. SE 8399-RH-ROCK Rock Hammer 11-Inch, 20 Oz.

This rock hammer is forged to be one brawny piece of steel with a hardened head and a sharp tip.

Overall, it weighs just 2 lbs. making it easier to control and amplify impact for better results.

The comfortable grip rubber handle is 11-inch long and considering that the head weighs in at 20-oz. , it’s well-balanced to attack the hardest stones.

It’s heavy, durable, and very consistent.

  • Blow it Up! 

Blowing up the annoying rock can be fun- though your neighbors may not like the noise and may call you names.

It’s also important for you to follow all the safety instructions.

Heavy-Duty Rock Removal Equipment on Degelman.

Now, how do you excavate and clean up strong-willed boulders from expansive landscapes such as golf courses?

Your humble shovels and rakes will surely have little going for them on such grounds.

One because the amount of stones is huge and secondly because you are pretty much guaranteed to meet some gigantic rocks.

Now, Degelman has been making high-level farm equipment for 55 years and seems to have a trick or two up their sleeves.

Related product reviews and guides: Best backpack blowers reviews 2018

They’ve some robust rock removal solutions.

Let’s briefly go through some of these top-rated rock removal machines.

1. Rock Digger RD320

For submerged rocks, you can use the Degelman RD320 rock digger.

Its 32-inch long and 2-inch thick teeth not only dig out submerged rocks but also grab, lift, and transports boulders to the hauler or the chosen location.

The teeth are rugged and angled so it smoothly glides into the soil even when wet.

These serrated grabbing teeth allow for better gripping of the rocks.

You will find it easier to control and handle.

2. Degelman Rock Rake

A heavy-duty boulders rake,this 14-inch wide spiral rakes a vast swatch of rocks with each pass.

Amazingly, it’s designed in a way that it folds into a compact size when navigating narrow gates and bridges- very convenient when raking expansive landscapes.

Apart from its rugged construction, the tension springs are backed by 12-gauge wire and absorbs impact enabling it to keep move over any large obstacles in your field.

More carbon content makes the teeth less prone to breakage while the robotic hard-surface treatment means it can serve for many years.

Plus you can reverse its teeth if you want to double their lifespan!

3. Prong Rock Picker R570P

If you want help in picking giant rocks, the prong rock picker can comfortably pick a boulder weighing a whopping 3000-pounds!

A rock picker of impressive talents, this simple forklift-like machine incorporates sprightly spring steel tines which won't break or bend.

The 2 hydraulic cylinders give it the power to pick and to unload with speed and remarkable efficiency.

It’s quite simple to operate with one hydraulic lever managing the hopper (for unloading) as well as the grill (for picking).

4. KingRock Picker

Degelman calls it the largest rock picker in the market and you can see why:

It has an unbelievable 8-inch wide grate, an imposing 6’9-inch dump height, and an enormous bucket (5 cubic yard).

You will work longer at the windrow, pile up higher, and deliver an unparalleled performance in extremely rocky grounds.

Even better, the bushings are a rare type and do not need maintenance making it very cheap to run.

It has hardened rods don’t rust and could be last for years.

Wrapping up

There’s no single best way to remove rocks from yard.

Rather, you have to check the size of the rocks, their quantity, the size of your garden, and even your experience.

For small rocks, you can go for handpicking –provided they’re not that many, a sifter, or a rake.

For those hidden on the ground, a shovel can be very useful.

Medium and large boulders are more difficult and you may have to invest in tractor attachments and in cases of huge grounds, some heavy-duty rock removal equipment.  

Another easier option is to break up the rocks into manageable pieces.

Yes, rock removal can be taxing and needs patience.

However, the fruits of having a clean yard make the whole effort worthy.

Related product reviews and guides




We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Grow the Herbs