Win a copy of Permaculture Design Companion this week in the Permaculture Design forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

Rocks in my yard - should I leave or remove?

 
Posts: 17
Location: Tucson, AZ
10
homeschooling kids personal care books urban cooking food preservation greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We bought a house in Tucson about 8 months ago. It’s within the city limits, but we managed to get a half acre. The side yard is the perfect location for my kitchen garden, but the previous owners had at least a few loads of rocks brought in over there & it’s quite deep, maybe 6” at the deepest spot. There is also quite a bit of organic matter accumulated in with the rocks, which I really need to have here with my very sandy soil. I’m wondering if it would be better to try to do a really heavy layer of mulch on top of it, or somehow try to remove the rocks, and sift out the organic matter. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to move these rather than sifting out a shovel full at a time with a screen? I’ll be getting chickens soon - would they help to separate the rocks, with all of their scratching? I hear that they pile up rocks sometimes but I don’t know if they do it consistently.
B4CF16AD-5549-4BA0-AF7D-CABD84A96FF8.jpeg
[Thumbnail for B4CF16AD-5549-4BA0-AF7D-CABD84A96FF8.jpeg]
BDA89617-1744-4F67-AEC6-0036DDF6BFD4.jpeg
[Thumbnail for BDA89617-1744-4F67-AEC6-0036DDF6BFD4.jpeg]
 
gardener
Posts: 2980
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
129
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The larger rocks, unless buried very deeply under good soil, will forever make it hard to dig for planting, and possibly reduce the amount of water that can be held just beneath the surface. In the desert climate, I have a feeling that piles or rows of rock around your gardening patches would help cut drying wind, shade the ground surface a bit, and help keep good soil from blowing away as dust. If you have real winter, a crescent of rocks around the northern/windward sides of a garden patch could make it warmer in spring.

I would not try to remove all the rock (especially the gravel visible in the pictures), just make a plan and toss rocks from the centers of designated garden patches to surrounding rocky strips. How large is the area in question? If it is the side yard by a house, it seems like a feasible manual task which can be done gradually, improving one section at a time.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1554
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
528
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live where there lots of rocks. I leave anything the size of a chicken egg or smaller. I simply add compost or mulch on a regular basis....in my case, every 2-3 months. The rocks are very beneficial for soil development. They add mineralization, drainage, stability. But they do make it more difficult to use a shovel or rototiller.

My environment and soil type is extremely different than yours, but I'd still be tempted to leave most of the small rock in place.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 11352
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
738
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My kitchen garden was full of rocks.  Over the course of a few years I removed them and replaced them with old logs.  This has been extremely beneficial!

https://permies.com/t/52077/Buried-Wood-Beds

I used the rocks to make a berm all around the outside of the garden fence to help discourage armadillos from entering.
 
pollinator
Posts: 311
Location: Quebec, Canada
40
hugelkultur forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For a kitchen garden, I would remove all rocks and as many smaller rocks as reasonably possible.  The smaller pebbles & gravel may not be an issue.  Over time you could remove them if they are bothersome.

I would find creative uses for the rocks in other places in the yard or they could be used as the garden border.


Rocks are wonderful…. I love finding creative uses for rocks..

Here is a thread with lots of different creative uses….

Permaculture rocks - no, I mean actual rocks
https://permies.com/t/56831/permaculture-projects/Permaculture-rocks-actual-rocks
 
gardener
Posts: 6240
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
999
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The best tool to remove small stones is a lawn broom rake, it will both gather up rocks and separate most of the organic matter.
As others have mentioned rocks are the minerals most of our plants need, so what you need to do is get mycelium and bacteria growing in your garden space so those rocks will become food for everything you want to grow.

Redhawk
 
Posts: 28
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Funny, I’m in a similar boat and am searching the forums right now because I don’t know what to do with al the 3/4” rock I will soon be removing.

I am building this rock trommel to do the job:



So, does anyone have ideas on what to do with the rocks?  I don’t need pathways, only have an acre, and hate rock.

Rocky Mountains - 5a
 
gardener
Posts: 1103
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
314
duck books chicken cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I'm clearing an area to plant, I keep two black plastic plant pots nearby, one for any "gravel-sized" rocks that get caught in the work and one for larger "goose egg size". Any rocks bigger than that get put into borders or other activities that would benefit from large rocks. The plant pots have drainage, so they won't pool water, and I can tuck them into a corner until needed. I thought I had a great supply this spring until I started a raised bed project and discovered the ground was less level than I thought. By the time I used the rocks to support the bed border, my supply was gone. At other times, I've used them in potholes. Larger smooth ones get used as weights and larger lumpy ones get piled as garden snake habitat.
 
Lulubelle Davis
Posts: 17
Location: Tucson, AZ
10
homeschooling kids personal care books urban cooking food preservation greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am building this rock trommel to do the job:

https://youtu.be/LwmoHlE_OGk


That thing is amazing!! I have about .25 acre just covered in inches of decorative rock. That would save me so much time.
 
Does this tiny ad smell okay to you?
September-October Homestead Skills Jamboree 2019
https://permies.com/wiki/118704/permaculture-projects/September-October-Homestead-Skills-Jamboree
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!