You’re ready to plant your favorite plant, you have your soil ready, shovel, and favorite gardening gloves on. You start digging away at the dirt but then you notice you hit a hard surface, you try to force your shovel again and discover hard rocks! You wonder to yourself, rocks? Could it be beneficial to my plant or can it hurt it? Lucky for you we have the answers below on how to deal with rocky soil and if they are beneficial to your plants.
The answer is rocks in your soil can cause damage to your plant’s roots if not removed. Heres why. Soils that contain rocks are more compacted due to there being less space taken up by all the rocks. This can affect your plant’s roots and nutrient intake as they need a softer soil base for there roots to push through and grow and absorb.
Why are rocks in my soil?
Rocks can be in your subsoil for many reasons. When new homes are built a layer of subsoil is used to fill in a yard for the future lawn. Usually, this subsoil is of the least expensive earth filling they can use to pass inspection. Often this layer of earth soil is rocky and not optimized for the longevity of plants but rather for lawn grass that does not require much-optimized nutrition compared to that of a fruit tree.
It could take up to 4 times as long (or even longer!) and might be quite the workout on your back trying to remove all the rocks from your soil when digging a hole for your plant. Also, since the earth crust is made up of rocks – the constant movement of tectonic plates deep down in the earth constantly forces rocks up to the surface.
Does having rocks in my soil mean I cant plant?
Not necessarily! If you have a great spot picked out in the yard for your favorite fruit tree or flower that receives plenty of sunlight and have rocks there are options available for you.
One option you have is planting on a raised bed. Consider purchasing some gardening soil one that is best optimized for your plant’s needs. We recommend using a soil amendment that is rich in organic matter such as compost. Compost manure is a great solution to add to your raised bed and into your rocky soil as well as it will provide excellent nutrition for your plants to thrive.
Composted animal manure is one of the best things to add to your garden bed or dug hole. Diffrent manures will range in their nutrition content for your plants and not always completely balanced fertilizers. It is recommended to add a complete garden fertilizer such as 6-6-6 to your mixture to provide optimal nutrition.
If you want to add organic matter to your plant bed, we recommend digging a hole at least 2-3 inches deep first (depending on how rocky and how far you can dig down) then add another layer of 2-4 inches of organic matter (such as compost manure). Then mix the organic matter with the native soil using a shovel, your hands, a tiller, or digging fork.
How can you remove rocks from your soil?
Of course, you could do the hard work and remove the rocks as you dig because eventually, you will remove enough rocks that you can dig freely once again. For those who have a bigger budget and want to use machine power – we strongly recommend using a Tiller.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just a beginner, having the right tools at your side can make your life as a gardener much easier and enjoyable when doing the hard work. Using a tiller can help break down soil and remove rocks from the earth and subsoil.
Another reason to remove rocks from your soil is to prevent damage to lawnmowers. Often rocks can damage the blades of a lawnmower and make it difficult to tend to your lawn.
How to Plant In The Ground Once Rocks Are Removed
Now that you have removed the rocks from your soil, you will want to amend your hole in the ground. Dig the hole at least twice the size of the planter size to ensure it is rock-free enough. If you can, it is recommended to at least dig a hole at least twice as deep as the size of the potter it came in to allow soil amendments to occupy enough space for future root development.
Mixing a good compost into the soil is key. Your plant needs all the nutrition it can get to provide you with the best plant possible. Compost is also great because it improves the soil’s ability to hold water and important nutrients. On the other hand, it attracts important organisms such as earthworms, fungi, molds, bacterias, sowbugs, and larva all-important microorganisms that are essential to the health of your plant. As time goes on, the nitrogen in the compost is turned into materials that your plant can intake.
You might also want to consider making your own compost ditch from kitchen scraps.
Removing Rocks From Floridas Sandy Soil
In Florida most of the soil is sand – and often can contain rocks. It is important to remove these rocks because they can damage root development and make it difficult for roots to absorb optimal nutrition.
Removing rocks from Floridas soil may be difficult at first due to the compactness of the sand. We recommend using power tools that help you remove rocks and heavy sands such as a tiller. Once the rocks are removed it is important to add a soil amendment such as compost to help optimal plant nutrition.
Soil Amendments To Add Nutrition To Sandy Soil
Soil amendments added to sandy soil can be essential to providing that boost of nutrition your sand needs to survive and thrive. Here are great soil additions to add to your sandy soil.
Vermicompost- Have you ever heard about raising red wiggler worms in a bin to produce rich compost from your everyday kitchen waste? By giving your worms kitchen scraps such as leftover fruit peels, coffee grinds, vegetable leftovers and so much more – but be careful not everything in the kitchen is compostable! (Learn what you should and shouldn’t compost here).
Vermicompost consists of rich nutrient worm castings and a liquid referred to as “Worm tea” that fruit trees and flowers just love to have.