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Question DetailsAsked on 6/1/2013

Who knows how to get rocks and stones removed?

My yard has a lot of rocks that I would like removed, any help would be appreciated.

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1 Answer


First - for anything more than using a rake or shovel to pick out cobbles, the contractor should have utility locates done before he starts digging, as electric, phone, cable TV, and gas services are usually only a few inches to a foot down. Water and sewer should normally be safe against hand work, but in areas where there is not deep frost penetration, machinery could hit them too.

Also - if you have septic, you have to find out where that is (hopefully you have as-built plans) - commonly the tank is only inches down to the tiop, and the leach field pipes commonly start anywhere from 12-18 inches down, but the ground to almost the surface will be sewage saturated. That is why the grass is always greener over the septic tank and leach field. You do NOT want to be digging into that, so that area should be hand-picked or only use a towed rock rack (NOT scarifiers) to remove ovesize material.

Depends on the size and percentage of rocks. If scattered cobbles and small boulders (to a foot or two), a landscaping company could do it by hand with pick, rake, and wheelbarrow or bobcat.

If a large percentage of large gravel and cobbles (as in a glacial area or old riverbed or mountainside talus area) a commercial landscaper or earthwork contractor with a rock rake attachment (google "rock rake images" for what this looks like) for his tractor could do it, but it would mean paying to get rid of a lot of waste material unless there is an easy spot on your property to dispose of it or you can use it for landscaping. In that sort of case, it is commonly cheaper to just bulldoze it smooth (pushing aside the bigger stuff as he works), handpick out boulders and cobbles left sticking up after his backdragging smoothing passes, compact it,, overlay it with about 4-6 inches of suitable finer-grained material to cover the coarse material, compact that, then topsoil and seed or sod or whatever over that.

Large boulders (over 6-8 inches) can be pulled to the top by a grader or bulldozer with scarifying rippers going down about 2 feet - same disposal problem, unless you use them for landscaping. Then the contractor would have to regrade it, compact it, then after letting it settle for several good rains or a bunch of deep waterings (preferably let sit 6 months or so), proceed with topsoiling and grass or whatever plantings or patio or whatever you plan on.

Do you have a feel, from the neighborhood and talking with neighbors, if bedrock is deep or shallow in your area ? You don't want to start on a rock removal program and find out you are hitting bedrock. If in doubt, ask your town or county engineer's office - they should be able to give an idea of the probability of shallow bedrock.

Bear in mind, anything but having a landscaping company handpick out or use a small towed rock rake to remove cobbles and small boulders totalling only a few percent of your surface area is going to be costly. Typically about $250-500/day for a 2-man landscaping company crew, $1000-2000/10 hour day of work for a small 1-man earthwork contractor with heavy equipment.

If you have at least several truckloads of REALLY big rocks you want removed (1 foot + with a lot in the 2-3 foot range), you may be able to find a contractor who will dig and haul them away for free, with rough levelling afterwards, for free, as he may be able to sell them as riprap. Anything else he may charge to haul away, or may charge you for the digging and levelling but not the hauling, if he has a job elsewhere looking for that type of coarse common fill. Be sure in this sort of deal to get agreement in writing on how much he can take - do not let him turn your yard into a borrow pit for him unless you really want the material gone.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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