Garden in Rocky Soil

How to Garden in Rocky Soil

How beautiful it is, no garden is perfect and all gardeners must work with at least one flaw in their paradise. Rocky soil is a gardening problem that often requires special attention. Soils are not only problematic because they inhibit growth; they usually contain fewer nutrients than other soils and hold less water. Soil can be planted and fairly large stones can be removed from the ground, but new rocks appear in the garden as the gut moves and changes over time. There are things you can do to improve the success of your rock garden, but be willing to change your design if you encounter slabs or other surprises when designing your masterpiece garden. Learn more about managing rocks in your garden.

Taking Control of the Rocky Soil

How to Garden in Rocky Soil

Apply a 10-15 cm thick layer of organic matter to the area to be planted. Manure or well-filled manure is preferred for organic changes, but you can also use rice or cocoa shirts. Cut the soil to a depth of 9 cm. Remove any large stones that have come up during plowing.

Choose plants that can tolerate such stony soil. Such as Swordtail (Arcane) which grows well in USDA zones 6-9 and Shooting Star (Dodecateon) which grows well in zones 4-8. Your local nursery can help you choose plants that are appropriate for your local climate and soil conditions.

Remove plants from the recommended ones. Giving plants more space will help them compete less for the limited nutrients that are available in stony soil.

Grow seedlings and fill them with nutrient-rich soil. Nurseries are expensive to create, but they are easier to prevent soil conditions from deteriorating and may not be costly in the long run. Compared to direct planting in stony soil, raised seedbeds to produce healthier plants, restore more plants, produce more fruits and vegetables, extend the growing season by warming the soil more quickly, and help protect plants from rodent damage.

How to Get Rid of Rocks in Soil

How to Garden in Rocky Soil

Reduce rocks

The grass on your lawn will grow better if you remove at least some rocks from the soil.  It’s unlikely that you can remove them all, so don’t worry about leaving everything behind. However, the more rocks you remove, the easier it will be for the grass to stabilize. By moving a steel garden rake over the first two or three centimeters of the soil, you can place and loosen stones so that they can be removed; large stones, in particular, occupy a valuable place in the ground. Another option is to bury in the soil and remove the first 10 cm of soil and replace it with soil without rocks.

Loosening the Soil

One of the problems with rocky soils is that stones take up space, forming barriers to root development. The looseness of the soil, which can be compacted under and between the stones, provides living space that easily penetrates the roots; when hit by a stone, the roots can slide to the side and find access through the loose soil. Rotary tillage allows the soil to be crushed evenly, although this task is more effective in soils with small rocks. Large rocks can damage the machine. Steel garden rakes can also be used to loosen the soil, but not as deeply as a cutter bar. Using a shovel or shovel for digging and turning the soil can also help loosen the soil.

Adding compost

The introduction of organic matter into the soil ensures that the grass has the nutrients it needs to survive in rocky terrain. Pour enough compost onto the loose soil to form a layer about 5 cm thick, then mix the compost with the first 5-6 cm of soil. Using compost also improves the water retention capacity of stony soils, which are generally drier than non-stony soils.

Using Topsoil

Laying a few centimeters thick layer of soil on rocky soil does not guarantee a healthy lawn. However, after removing stones or the tip of a few centimeters of soil and loosening the soil on the plot, the addition of soil ensures a gentle planting of grass seeds and the resulting new grassroots. When removing the soil, use a mixture of compost and soil to bring the area to the level of the rest of the ground. If this is not the case, apply a layer of compost/soil 2 inches thick to the area; too much creates a significant difference in height between the areas in the backyard. Only use quality soil that is free from weed seeds, large twigs, and stones.

Grass selection

By choosing a rustic lawn, you have a better chance of creating a lush lawn, even if you face a rocky challenge. For example, Zoysia spp. remains green during the summer on difficult soils in the 6-9 hard zones of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where the grass is resistant. During the cold season, try grass such as tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), which is resistant in USDA Hardness Zones 3.


There are many ways to treat rocky soil in the yard and garden. You can work with or around rocks, one thing is certain: the less you have to dig, the happier you and your plants will be.

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