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Old 04-27-2009, 02:11 PM   #1
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From rocks to grass

Hello! My house's previous owner covered the entire front yard with tarps and/or landscaping weed blocker covered in rocks (around 1/2" - 1"). They built the house in the lot so previously it was probably normal NorthEastern Connecticut forest over-grown brush and whatnot. I'd like to get all of it out of there and have a normal grass front lawn. The back yard gets a lot of light but this whole front yard gets very little. It gets direct light, but not the whole thing at once all day, it's like a sliver of light moving across the lawn throughout the day. The trees get ridiculously tall (while staying skinny) out here as they all fight each other to reach some sun.
So I'm basically wondering how to go about it. I figure, rake and shovel out the rocks obviously. But then should I get dirt delivered or just leave it as is, should I buy grass seed and use a normal home type spreader or hire someone to shoot that green-tinted grass seed stuff?
I'm also wondering if there's any advice on getting the rocks up. It sounds stupid but someone with actual experience might have tips to make it go easier. The problem is just that when you shovel it up, you get dirt and whatnot along with it. Is there a good way to get it up while leaving the dirt behind and then separate the "junk" (leaves, dirt, twigs, etc) from the rocks to re-use them in other landscaping?


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Old 04-27-2009, 04:44 PM   #2
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I have a couple large areas in my yard that are landscaped and covered in stones. After a number of years, the dirt is working its way up and the rocks are working their way down.

To fix the problem I've been thinking about making a square sifter out of 4 - 18" pieces of a 2x4 and some wire (hardware cloth? or chicken wire) stapled across the bottom of the square. It seems like it would be easy enough to shovel and sift it, with two people working together.

To get more sunlight to your front yard, can you thin the branches in the trees?


Last edited by gma2rjc; 04-27-2009 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:42 PM   #3
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We built a rock shifter from galvanized livestock screen with 1/2" square holes and wooden frame about 3 x 6 feet. We supported one 6' side with wooden legs so we can set it on an angle and throw the shovel fulls of stones and dirt at it, then the dirt flies through and the stones roll to the bottom for collection. Works great, but is still a lot of work.

BTW our place was covered in landscape stones too, no grass.
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:03 PM   #4
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I'm sorry for your situation. As a former professional landscaper there is no way, short of a bobcat, to remove the stones easier. I have removed the stones from countless planting beds and replenished with soil and mulch. The hardest part is that the fabric/plastic gets caught in the shovel while trying to scoop. What we used to do, if possible, was to get a couple people to grab an edge of the plastic and lift it in short little bursts. The gravel and soil will pile up in a little row and you can scoop it up easier with a shovel. For re-using the stone try a wheelbarrow and a garden hose. Set the wheelbarrow up on a bit of an incline and start rinsing the stones. The dirt will lift with the water and run out the front of the wheelbarrow. We used this technique when washing stones before installing in an ornamental pond. A rototiller will loosen up the soil for grass seed planting. The grass need lots of light. pruning and removing trees will help with this. Sounds like you have a project on your hands for sure.
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