How to Remove Rocks From Your Yard

Rocks are often a natural part of any homeowner’s or gardener’s landscape. They are as common as garden plants, weeds, soil, and grass. There are any number of reasons why there may be a few scattered rocks or huge piles of rocks found all around your backyard.

It can be a challenge to remove rocks from your yard. Rocks can be not only an eyesore, but many homeowners find them difficult to move as well as maintain. So, what are you to do if you want to get rid of them?

There are multiple ways you can get rid of the rocks scattered around your back yard. We have a list of methods, tools, and reasons for removing any rocks from your lawn, as well as creative ways you can use the rocks if you want to keep them.

Why Should I Remove These Rocks?

You might like the sight or use of rocks in your lawn or garden. If they are in a tight, sculpted formation such as a fire-pit or rock wall around a vegetable garden, then they most likely won’t pose a danger to yourself or your lawn.

However, if there are rocks in your yard that were not places there on purpose, or are strewn about by accident, then these can be a nuisance as well as potentially harm yourself or the other occupants of your house, such as children and pets.

Rocks can be the cause of plants either not growing or withering where they are planted. This is because rocks in the soil can potentially block plant roots from growing to their full length, as well as prevent them from reaching water and vital nutrient and mineral sources that the soil contains further underground.

A rock placed over a seed will cause that seed not to germinate and sprout because it blocks the seed from receiving sunlight and blocks the path of the plant’s stem as it grows upward from the seed.

In addition to the damage rocks can cause to the soil of your yard, they can also do damage to the people and objects used within it. Children or animals running can stub their toes, trip and fall over rocks, or even fall onto them and seriously injure themselves.

Mowing is something you can’t do when you have rocks on your lawn. If they are large enough they can severely damage the blades of the mower. If they are small enough the fast-moving mower blades can shoot them at high speeds in any direction, meaning the person mowing or someone standing nearby could get hurt. They can also make it into your lawn mower’s bag, weighing it down and potentially tearing it, as well as reducing the efficiency and capability of your mower.

The Best tools for removing rocks from your yard

Depending on the size and amount of rocks you have in your yard, there are multiple tools that can be used to deal with them. For different size rocks, you have different tools and methods to get rid of them.

With smaller rocks, like gravel or pebbles, a powerful leaf blower could do the trick pretty well. This would blow them off of your lawn or into a pile. You can also use a cultivator or tiller to till up the rocks in the ground, and then put it in a wheelbarrow or bags and transport it out of your yard.

For small to medium size rocks, you can’t use a leaf blower it isn’t powerful enough, and a tiller could easily become damaged. For these rocks, you can use your hands to collect them, or a landscape rake or a shovel. Then, once you have collected the rocks, again place them in a carrying bag or wheelbarrow and transport them to a local rock dump.

Larger rocks and boulders cannot be lifted out of the ground simply by picking them up with a hand or rake. In these situations you can use a digging bar or two-by-four, which are long and strong bars that can be used to leverage the rock out. If you have a tractor, you can also use a backhoe attachment, which will mechanically remove the boulders as well.

Best Methods For Removing Rocks From Your Yard

Here are some tips for how to remove rocks from your yard. Whether they are small rocks in the form of gravel, rocks mixed into the soil, or large rocks and boulders, we have methods for removing all types of rocks.


The first step to removing gravel is identifying what type of gravel you have in your yard. The two main types are screened gravel and pea gravel. Screened gravel is made from screening gravel through a mesh sieve. The pieces are jagged and less uniform. Pea gravel is made of smooth, more rounded pieces that have been shaped over years from water or rain.

Once you have identified the type of gravel, check underneath it to see if there is any landscape fabric below. If the previous homeowner laid down gravel, they most likely would have put a piece of fabric beneath it to more easily maintain and transport the gravel. If this is the case, simply dig up the fabric, pull it around the gravel, and remove it.

If you’re unable to find a landscape fabric, then you have a few other options to help you remove gravel from your yard or garden. First, try raking it with a landscape rake. These are large and sturdy and are good at raking up big debris such as rocks while not disturbing the grass beneath it. The back side of the rake is a straight metal line as well, so that will help you collect the rocks into small piles.

If the gravel is compact or in a large enough pile, then use a shovel to pick it up. After you’ve removed all of the big piles, use a broom to push any remaining gravel either to the side of your lawn or into a bag or trailer to transport it out of your yard.

Finally, use an industrial vacuum cleaner to get rid of all of the leftover gravel pieces.

Rocks Mixed Into the Soil

With rocks that are found in the soil, using a cultivator or tiller is the best option to remove them. Go over the entire area that has rocks with the tiller – this will bring all of the rocks to the surface.

Once you have tilled up the area around the rocks, use a wheelbarrow or carry them in bags to transport them out of your yard. If you don’t have a way to transport the rocks, you can also use a metal rake to remove them. Once you’ve collected all of the rocks, take them out of your yard and dispose of them properly.

Large Rocks and Boulders

The first thing to do with a boulder is to dig around the entire rock. This will loosen it and make it easier to remove. If your yard is sloped in certain areas, then start digging beneath one corner of the boulder until you can dig around its base.

Once you have dug up all four sides of the boulder, use a lever such as a crowbar or digging bar to pry it out of the ground.

Otherwise, if you have a tractor with a bucket or backhoe attachment, then use that to lift the rock out of the ground.

If you’re having difficulty removing the boulder, try using a sledgehammer to break it into smaller pieces that can be removed more easily. Once the boulder is in small enough pieces, use a wheelbarrow or bags to remove it from your yard.

Creative Ways to Use Rocks Instead of Removing Them

You might want to keep the rocks that are in your backyard, rather than getting rid of them. If this is the case, there are a few creative ways you can use them.

For example, you can create a fire pit if you have about 10-15 medium sized boulders. You can also create a retaining wall for your plants or vegetable garden with those same rocks.

If you have a bunch of small rocks or gravel, then maybe consider creating a garden walkway. This can be in the form of a whole path or steps. This is a simple way to add some character and style to your garden, and all you need is a bag of quick-setting concrete and some rocks.

No matter what the size of the rocks are that are in your yard, there is a way to use them and keep them there. Talk to a landscape contractor about how to best utilize the rocks in your backyard.

Final Thoughts

It’s time to get rid of your rocks. Removing rocks from your yard is not only good for the landscaping, but it can also improve drainage and reduce weed growth. Rocks pose the same hazards as other debris and should be removed from yards if possible so homeowners don’t risk damaging their lawn or garden with them while mowing or maintaining plants.

If you have a lot of rocks in your backyard or garden, we recommend removing them with care so that they don’t end up all over again elsewhere on your property. We hope this blog post has helped inspire you to get rid of those pesky things once and for all!

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.