How To Remove Rocks From Your Yard (Gravel and Boulders Too!)

How To Remove Rocks From Your Yard

The thought of removing rocks from your yard can at first seem daunting. Whether you need to check your yard for rocks before mowing or dig out large boulders, the task is simple. So, regardless of the reason behind it, what is the best way to remove rocks from your yard?

How you remove the rocks from your yard will depend on the type of rock. For gravel, you will use a shovel to gather the excess. Then, use a rake to scrape up the remainder. If it’s boulders you need to remove, you will need to manually dig these out with a shovel and transport them in your wheelbarrow.

This article will help you discover the best ways to remove rocks from your yard, no matter the circumstance. That way, you can mow, build a garden, or work on the landscape for your beautiful outdoor oasis.

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Reasons You May Need To Remove Rocks From Your Yard

In recent years, landscaping has become more of a hobby than a job. Rocks have become a landscaping tool, whether you’re using large rocks for decoration or gravel for a walkway. While these aren’t an issue when they stay where they’re intentionally placed, they can become a problem if they shift.

For instance, if you have a gravel walkway through your yard, those pebbles will end up spilling into your grass. Before you mow, you will need to go through and pick all the pebbles out of your grass, or it can damage the mower or cause significant injuries.

Tools You Will Need For Removing Rocks From Your Yard

The tools you choose will depend upon the task you have at hand. Here is a list of tools and their uses for removing rocks from your hard:

  • Garden rake: Great for gathering gravel. Costs about $15 to $30 depending on the size.
  • Garden gloves: Prevents blisters while using the rake. These will cost around $5.
  • Rototiller: Use to loosen up the soil to gain access to larger rocks. However, a cultivator will work fine for a smaller garden area. Costs around $25 to $50 each day.
  • Wheelbarrow: You will need something to haul out the rocks and gravel as you go. What’s better than a good ol’ wheelbarrow? Depending on the capacity and the brand, you can expect to pay around $40 to $120 for one.
  • Pointed shovel: This will help you scoop up loose gravel and smaller rocks. A pointed shovel will cost you $30 or less.
  • Soil sifter: Put a net over your wheelbarrow to help sift out rocks. You can purchase one for $20 to $40 or create your own.

How To Remove Rocks From Your Yard

The way you remove rocks from your yard will depend on the type you are trying to remove them. Therefore, we’ve included instructions for a few scenarios. So, regardless if it’s gravel, rocks, or boulders, we’ve got you covered.

Removing Gravel From Your Yard

To remove the overspill of gravel from your yard, you will need the following tools:

  • Garden rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pointed shovel


  1. Shovel the gravel into the wheelbarrow. Whether you’re removing your gravel walkway or gravel overspill in your grass, you will need to start by removing the gravel with your shovel. Gather up as much as you can and put it into the wheelbarrow.
  2. Rake the area. Next, you will need to rake up the bits of gravel that your shovel had missed. It’s a good idea to use a wide-comb rake for this job.
  3. Shovel the area one more time. Now, you will need to shovel out the gravel that you raked up. Make sure you pick up any remaining pieces by hand that you may have missed with the tools.

If you want to remove a gravel walkway, check under the gravel for a geotextile cloth. If you have one, this will make the process much easier as you can just lift it and remove larger sections of gravel.

Removing Rocks From Soil In Your Yard

Removing rocks from the soil around your hard will be a bit different than the gravel removal. For this, you will need a particular set of tools, which includes:

  • Gardening gloves
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Pointed shovel
  • Soil sifter
  • Rototiller


  1. Break up the soil. To remove rocks from your soil, it’s going to take a lot more work than removing the gravel from your yard. However, it’s still a doable DIY friendly project. First, you will need to break the soil up using a rototiller. Make sure you’re stopping to place any larger pieces of rock into the wheelbarrow as you go.
  2. Fill the wheelbarrow. You will want to collect all the rock fragments in your wheelbarrow. Then, dump them in a designated area.
  3. Rake the smaller rocks. When you’re finished using the rototiller, you’ll need to rake the smaller rocks into a pile. Take your time and check the area to ensure you’ve gathered all of it.
  4. Scoop up the pile with your shovel. Once you have a nice pile, use your shovel, and scoop the pile of rocks into your wheelbarrow. You may need to repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times until all the rocks are gone.

Now, if you’re on several acres, the above method may not be ideal. Instead, you can remove the rocks from your yard using a tractor with a plow and a screen so that you can separate rocks. However, renting a tractor and a plow will cost around $120 to $200 a day.

All you would have to do is loosen the topsoil and then drag the plow behind the tractor so that it collects rocks. Then, using your sifter, remove any rocks from the soil and then reapply the soil to the surface.

Removing Large Rocks Or Boulder From Your Yard

The only way to remove larger boulders is manually, which you’ll need a few tools for. These tools include:

  • Pointed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Garden Gloves
  • Garden Rake


  1. Check the depth of the rocks. First, you will need to see how far down the larger rocks go into your soil. This can be done by digging around the rock to check the depth so that you can uncover the entire rock when you dig. However, make sure that you loosen all the soil that surrounds it so that you can get it out easily.
  2. Dig around the rock. Work your way around the rock until it begins to budge. If it’s larger than you are, keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t roll your way. Try to stay out of the path of the rock if it begins leaning one way.
  3. Remove the boulder. When it comes time to remove the boulder, you will most likely need help. You can either ask a few friends to assist you or break the rock into pieces for easier removal.
  4. Use machinery if needed. If the boulder doesn’t budge, then you may need to use some machinery. You can rent a bobcat or skid steer loader to do this job. However, it will cost more to do it this way.

What Should I Do With My Old Rocks?

Now that you’ve got the rocks out of the way, what can you do with them? If you don’t want them on your property, you can always post them on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Or you can repurpose them yourself.

Use Them For A New Retaining Wall

If your stones and rocks are in good shape after removing them, you can use them to build a retaining wall. What’s cool about this is that people will pay around $15 per square foot in materials and labor to build a retaining wall from rock. However, you can do this for free with your rocks!

Additionally, you can place them on the edges of your flower beds to give your flower garden more character. There are so many ways you can design your garden with repurposed rocks.

Build Your Own Backyard Fire Pit

Backyard firepits are great to gather around and hang out with your family or friends. You can build one using all the materials and tools you’ve used to remove the rocks from your yard. All you need is the gravel, large rocks, a shovel, and a rake! Throw some chairs around the pit, and you’re good to go.

Create A Garden Walkway

If you’ve just removed lots of gravel, you can create a garden walkway. This will give your garden the elegance that it so deserves without the cost. You can even create steppingstones from any larger rocks that you had and place them among the gravel. This will only take you a day or two.

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Wrapping It Up

There are plenty of reasons you may need to remove rocks from your yard, whether it’s because you need to mow the lawn or you want to create an appealing outdoor area. Different types of rocks require different removal methods.

While removing rocks from your yard can be hard work, it can pay off in more ways than one. While it will save your lawnmower from damage, it will also save you money. Retaining walls made of stone and gravel pathways with steppingstones can cost a few hundred dollars. By repurposing your rocks, you’ll save money, make your outdoor space look great, and keep your grass healthy.

Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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