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How To Remove Rocks From A Yard And Soil: Handle Any Boulders From Small To Large With Ease!

To remove small rocks from yard: Loosen the soil with your rototiller. If you find any large rocks, place them in a wheelbarrow. When you’ve rototilled the whole area, rake smaller rocks out of the dirt and place them in the wheelbarrow. Use them and the larger rocks for your next landscape rock project.

You Can Move Boulders!

Why should you know how to remove rocks from yard? Well, for one thing, rocks can damage lawn mowers or fly out of them at people. They also make garden soil inhospitable to plants.

Though removing rocks can seem difficult, I assure you that it’s doable. It’s also a great way to get free rocks for landscaping projects like this one:

A beautiful dry river bed

To remove rocks from one area and repurpose them for another, follow the steps below.

How To Remove Small Rocks From Yard

Though pebbles, stones, gravel, and the like are easy to lift, they also tend to get buried under the soil. Below is the best way to remove rocks from soil.

You’ll Need

  • A rototiller
  • A rake
  • A wheelbarrow


Here’s how you can remove small rocks from your backyard:

  1. Loosen The Soil

    image credit:

    A rototiller is the best machine to remove rocks from soil. Use one to slowly loosen the rock-containing soil. If you find large rocks, set them aside in a wheelbarrow.

  2. Rake Out The Small Rocks

    With the soil loosened, you can easily remove small rocks with a rake. Place them in the wheelbarrow with the large rocks.

    Need a garden rake? For removing rocks, I recommend the clog-free, 30-inch rake by True Temper.

  3. Find A Use For The Rocks

    Wherever you live, you’re probably not supposed to put rocks out with your regular garbage. You’ll either need to find a use for them or give them away.

    The easiest option is to use them in a landscaping project. A particularly charming landscape rock feature you can make is a dry riverbed. For some breathtaking examples, click here.

    If you want the rocks off your property, try offering them to neighbors or people on Craigslist. You can also advertise them in a newspaper or give them to a landscaping company.

Removing Small And Medium Boulders

Some rocks are small enough to roll or tow but too big to lift. Since even these vary in size and weight, I’ve included three methods below.

For Boulders Small Enough To Roll With Leverage Tools

You’ll Need

  • An iron pipe
  • A pry bar
  • A piece of 6-by-6 inch lumber
  • A piece of 2-by-6 inch lumber


Here’s how to move rollable boulders using a fulcrum:

  1. Create A Fulcrum
Demonstrating how a fulcrum works

Stick a pry bar under the boulder. Then, wedge a six-by-six lumber plank under the pry bar to create a fulcrum. 

  1. Dislodge The Boulder

Pull the pry bar backward against the plank until the boulder shifts or rolls forward. Repeat this step to move the boulder where you want it to be.

For Boulders Too Heavy To Roll Across Your Yard With A Fulcrum

You’ll Need

  • Several iron pipes
  • A pry bar
  • A piece of 6-by-6 inch lumber
  • A piece of 2-by-6 lumber


If the boulder is too heavy for a fulcrum, here’s a creative way to move boulders using sleds:

  1. Make A Sled

Near the boulder, line several iron pipes parallel to each other. Lay a plank of two-by-six lumber on top of these.

  1. Load The Boulder Onto The Sled

Following the steps from the previous method, pry the boulder until it’s on the makeshift sled.

  1. Move The Boulder

Push the sled a little bit at a time. The pipes will roll like wheels. You’ll have to keep picking up the ones left behind the sled and repositioning them at the front.

See the whole process captured in this video:

For Boulders Too Heavy To Roll On A Sled

You’ll Need

  • *A truck or tractor
  • *A metal chain or four-inch nylon straps
  • An iron pipe
  • A pry bar
  • A piece of 6-by-6 inch lumber
  • A piece of 2-by-6 inch lumber

Note: If an item has an asterisk next to it, I’ll explain it below.

Trucks Vs Tractors

What really matters about your towing vehicle is how much weight it can pull. This varies by make and model. 

According to the Truck Driver Institute, a tractor is a special type of truck designed to pull a trailer. Tractors can typically handle heavier loads than regular trucks, so you may want to rent one for towing a gigantic boulder.

Metal Chain Vs Nylon Straps

In general, I recommend nylon straps over metal chains.

Unlike chains, which can only stretch by being deformed, Roundforge explains that nylon straps can safely stretch up to 20 percent of their length. 

By stretching, a nylon strap stores kinetic energy from the moving vehicle and gradually transfers it to the object being towed. This allows more energy to be transferred between the vehicle and the object.

A nylon strap’s stretchiness may also be better for your car. Roundforge gives the example of a bungee jumper’s cord stretching to slow their fall. 

In contrast, a metal chain would cause a sudden, bone-breaking stop. Similarly, a boulder towed on a chain may roll over or get stuck, suddenly tugging on your vehicle.

Metal chains are also absurdly heavy compared to nylon straps. For example, a 20-foot, ⅜-inch chain weighs 29.4 lbs, whereas a 2 ⅜-inch-wide nylon strap of the same length weighs only 3.9 lbs. 

You also can’t fasten chains as securely as you can fasten nylon straps. At best, you can link a chain to itself to form a lasso around the boulder. A nylon strap’s elasticity allows it to hug the boulder tightly.

However, there are reasons to choose a chain over a nylon strap for dragging a boulder. For one, if the surface you’ll be dragging the boulder over is rough, chains can withstand more abrasion.


Here’s how you can move extremely heavy boulders:

  1. Tie A Chain Or Nylon Straps Around The Boulder

Use the prying method mentioned earlier to get a chain or some four-inch nylon straps under the boulder. Secure them so you can tow the boulder.

  1. Attach The Chain Or Nylon To Your Vehicle
Attach to your vehicle’s tow hitch
Image credit:

Securely attach the free end of the chain or nylon to your vehicle’s tow hitch.

If you need a high horsepower vehicle and do most of your own yard work, consider getting a small garden tractor, like the ones in this post.

  1. Tow The Boulder Away

Slowly drive towards wherever you intend to place the boulder. When you get there, remove the chain or nylon. 

Removing Large Boulders Piece By Piece

Some boulders are so massive you have to break them into smaller pieces. Here’s how:

You’ll Need

  • Feathers and wedges *
  • A hammer drill *
  • A blow out bulb *
  • A mallet
  • A pointed shovel
  • A wheelbarrow

Note: If an item has an asterisk next to it, I’ll explain it below.

What Are Feathers And Wedges?

Feathers are curved metal pieces that go on either side of a wedge. A wedge is what it sounds like – a wedge-shaped metal piece. When you drive a wedge into a rock, the feathers push outwards until the rock cracks open as shown in this video at 1:13:

What Is A Hammer Drill? 

A hammer drill is simply a drill designed for hard substances such as concrete, as ToolMetrix explains:

What Is A Blow Out Bulb?

A blow-out bulb resembles a turkey baster or bulb syringe. When you squeeze the bulb, it blows dust out of the hole you drilled to make room for the feathers and wedges.


Finally, here are the steps for moving or removing the largest boulders from your yard:

  1. Uncover The Boulder

If the boulder is buried around its base, use your pointed shovel to dig around the boulder until it’s fully exposed. 

  1. Drill Holes Into It

Use the hammer drill to create a line of holes where you want to split the boulder.

  1. Blow Dust Out Of The Holes

Insert the nozzle of the blow-out bulb into each hole and pump the rubber part a few times, clearing out dust.

  1. Insert The Feathers And Wedges

Please your feathers and wedges in the holes, as Old House demonstrates:

  1. Split The Boulder

Hit the wedges with your mallet until the boulder breaks in two. Place the smaller piece into the wheelbarrow and haul it away. 

Repeat these steps as necessary until you’ve removed the entire boulder.

  1. Find Uses For The Pieces
A large piece of boulder can be a landscaping centerpiece as well.
Image credit:

Though there are ways to discard rocks, it’s easier to reuse them for landscaping. For some charming rockscaping images, click here.

You Now Know How To Remove Rocks From Yard

Now that you know how to remove rocks from yard, you can mow the lawn in peace and grow happier plants in your garden. 

Don’t forget that rocks can make beautiful landscape features! Since getting rid of rocks can be complicated, it’s best to find a use for them.

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Please share it if you did, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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About The Author

Cole Trahan

Cole Trahan is a gardening enthusiast, and he has been doing gardening as a hobby for more than 10 years. He lives in South Georgia in a house and enjoys tending his garden on regular basis. He also enjoys writing and here, on, he could combine his both passions! Follow him on LinkedIn.

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