Stuck between a rock and a hard place with your yard’s current landscaping style? If you’re wondering how to remove rocks from your yard, we can help.

Whether you’re getting rid of landscaping rocks in your garden or trying to remove a large boulder, yard rock removal doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Follow along below as we cover the best ways to remove rocks from a yard, the tools you’ll need to get the job done, as well as landscaping ideas and disposal options for when you’re finished.

The Best Ways to Remove Rocks From Your Yard

While decorative rocks or gravel can add visual appeal to your landscape design, they can also prevent plants from growing. Rocks in the soil block plant roots from reaching their nutrient sources and water, making the soil stiff over time, and they can deprive the plants of growing space. Rocks can also pose a safety issue when mowing the lawn, by either damaging the equipment or causing injury if a rock gets thrown by the mower.

If it’s time to clear problem rocks from your yard, the best way to do so will depend on the type of rocks you’re removing.

Yard Rock Removal Tools You’ll Need and How Much They’ll Cost:

  • Rototiller – This will help you break up dirt to loosen the soil and expose large rocks. For small gardens, a cultivator would also work. Both can be rented at your local hardware store, such as a Home Depot, for about $25 – $50 per day, depending on size.
  • Garden rake – Use a garden rake to gather the gravel together. You can purchase one for $15 – $30, depending on the size you need.
  • Gardening gloves – Gardening gloves will help prevent blisters while you’re raking the rocks, and you can find a pair for about $5.
  • Pointed shovel – Use a shovel to scoop up gravel and other small rocks you’ve gathered with the rake. You can purchase a quality pointed shovel for less than $30.
  • Wheelbarrow – Last but not least, use a wheelbarrow to get the rocks out of the yard. The price range for wheelbarrows vary between $40 – $120, depending on brand and capacity. If you’re working in a steep or uneven area, you can transport smaller rocks using buckets.
  • Soil sifter – Using a screen or net over your wheelbarrow will help you more easily sift rocks out of the soil. Soil sifters can be purchased for $20 – $40, or you can make your own.

Small Rototiller in Garden Soil

How to Get Rid of Gravel

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Garden rake
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pointed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Removing Gravel From Your Yard

If you’re removing a gravel driveway or getting rid of rocks in the yard, start by shoveling gravel into a wheelbarrow to remove it. Then, use a rake to pick up pieces of gravel the shovel missed.

Often times, the homeowner before you may have used a geotextile cloth underneath decorative gravel, which makes the removal process easier, as you simply lift it up and can remove large quantities of gravel at a time.

How to Remove Rocks From Soil

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Rototiller
  • Garden rake
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pointed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Soil sifter

Removing Rocks From Soil

Removing rocks that are mixed in with soil requires more effort than removing piles of clean gravel, but is still very doable with the right tools. To begin, slowly push the rototiller to break up the soil. Stop and pick up any larger rocks in the yard as you till.

Place rocks in the wheelbarrow as you go to keep them out of the way and make it easier to move them once you’re finished tilling.

Rake through the loosened soil to sift out smaller rocks. Rake the small rocks and gravel into a pile, then scoop them into the wheelbarrow with your shovel. Continue raking with a regular leaf rake if there is a lot of gravel.

Sound like too much work to take on this job? Rocks can also be removed from soil by using a tractor, plough and screen to separate rocks. Renting a tractor and plough will be more costly, but much less labor intensive.

For this method, you’ll need to attach the plough to the tractor, loosen the topsoil, then use the plough to drag and collect the rocks. Use your sifter to remove rocks from soil, then spread the soil back on the ground.

Large Boulder in Backyard

How to Remove Large Boulders

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Garden rake
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pointed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Moving Large Rocks and Boulders From Your Yard

Start by digging around the large rocks with your shovel to see how deep they go, and then continue digging until you’ve uncovered the whole rock. Make sure to loosen the soil surrounding it as much as possible so the rock will be easier to lift.

Ask for help when picking up rocks in the yard, as they can get heavy and strain your back. With the assistance of at least one other person, lift the rock into the wheelbarrow where it can be pushed away from the area.

Alternatively, using a 6×6’ piece of wood as a fulcrum, you can use a 4’ pry bar to push or pull big rocks out of the ground and over level terrain through your yard, according to the gardening team at This Old House.

As with smaller rocks, a faster way to remove large rocks from your yard is to use heavy machinery. Skid steer loaders, or “bobcats,” are recommended for this job and can be rented online.

If these project ideas aren’t for you, and you’re simply wondering how to get rid of rocks in your yard, our Rock Disposal Guide will help you weigh your options.

Creative Ways to Reuse Rocks for Landscaping Projects

Now you know how to get rid of rocks in your yard, but where should they go once you’ve gotten them out? Here are a few ideas for repurposing landscape rocks that will save time and money on your yard design projects.

DIY Backyard Fire Pit

Create a Fire Pit

You can create a backyard fire pit with the materials you’ve already been using to remove the rocks from your yard. All you need is your large rocks, gravel, a shovel and a rake.

Stone Retaining Wall in Garden

Build a New Retaining Wall

While interlocking landscape blocks are most commonly used to build retaining walls, stone and boulders can also be an ideal fit to edge your flower beds. When starting from scratch, using stone or boulders to build a garden wall can cost about $15 per square foot for materials, plus labor, according to HomeAdvisor. If your unwanted rocks are still in good shape after cleaning them off, you can expect to save hundreds by going the DIY route with your retaining wall.

Backyard Garden Walkway

Add a Garden Walkway

For a more elegant look without the expense, design a walkway that’s (literally) a natural fit with your garden. Whether you’re looking for a gravel path or stepping stones from larger rocks, this project can be done in only a day or two and will leave a lasting impact on your curb appeal.

Clean Up and Tackle Your Next Landscaping Project

Having a tough time making a cleanup plan for your rock removal? If you’re seeking disposal options for your landscaping rocks or concrete from other outdoor projects, learn about how to recycle or responsibly dispose of your debris here:

Still feeling motivated to up your landscaping game? Find inspiration with these DIY garden and landscaping guides: