Question About Rocky Soil!

Coppell, TX(Zone 8a)

Hi! I have flower beds that I turn weekly and notice that when I rake them, there are a ton of icky rocks in there. About a foot down you hit clay. The soil looks like an ugly sand color until I turn it, then it's darker, but not gorgeous.

My rose trees and a few other things seem to grow fine in this soil, but I wonder if you think I should go to the trouble of picking out the rocks before I plant my new Verbena tomorrow? What a pain, but I don't want to plant nice new things in crummy soil! I plan to dig, then fill with Azalea mix and plant in that. Then I will use Miracle plant food on them. Do you think that is enough?

I hate ugly, sandy, rocky soil! I am in Texas, by the way, zone 8a.

McKinney, TX(Zone 8a)

It could be the fill that the builder used. They will sometimes put some pretty nasty sandy fill in to bring up the grade or it could be that some kind of gravel quarry, like my aunt seems to think, was around there. I have heard about a lot of the people that live in newer subdivisions, especially in the Coppell and Flower Mound area, having this same problem. Some rocks will be more of an annoyance than anything, but you definitely need some living organisms thriving to build up the soil. Compost, worm castings, leaf mold and amendments like fish and seaweed emulsion would be somethings that would probably help. Miracle Grow and the like will just add temporary amounts of mostly nitrogin and contribute to the build up of salts. BTW, Coffee grounds and Alfalfa Meal are great organic fertilizers for you rose.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Sharon, one of the ways to break up clay soil is the addition of small rocks, ie gravel. Unless a rock is at least half the size of my fist, or really in the way, I leave them.

Sweezel is right on about living organisms and amendments being needed!

Coppell, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, I know a landscaper did work here before we bought the house, so maybe they did something to the soil's not quite as bad as I thought. I went digging in there today and under the very top layer, which looked kinda light colored and ugly, was dark and very nice looking soil. But I didn't find any worms, although last year I did! But I do know that there are lots of worms around here after a rain, so they may be there and just hiding! LOL

I left the rocks, which turned out not to be so many after all. The thing I didn't like was the clay I hit after digging down only about 10". It was just barely deep enough for me to plant some Verbena today, without planting in clay! I filled it with Azalea mix and will look into getting something organic, as you suggested.

Thanks for the help!

Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

Worms will come back if you feed as suggested above.

Lay down 3 or 4 sheets of paper then put some kind of mulch on the paper at least 3 " deep.

Worms love newspaper but any will do. ( I use everything including empty feed bags )

You create an environment for worms and the organic ingredients feed them so they hang out and multiply.

Shirley in Smalltownrednecktractorville, WI

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

DivaSharon .. Glad things are workin' out for you.

... If in the future you feel the need to get rid of a few of the rocks you find in your flower beds or elsewhere - just make yourself a 'sifter'! Especially useful if you're wanting to add some dirt, but it's a bit 'loaded' with rocks ....

Using lumber or welding some metal - just 'create' a square or rectangular 'frame work' (as a 'hand held' device; suggest perhaps a 2'X2' or 2'X3' ..)
Then, over the framework .. place, what's generally called hardware cloth, wire, or most any relatively small sized mesh wire .. to serve as the 'strainer'! Nail, staple, or 'tie-wire' the wire mesh onto the framing ....

A bit of a 'dish' effect needs to be created in the center part of the wire .. in order to keep the stuff you want filtered .. there in place, long enuff, to be sifted and strained. Do this by pressing down only a wee bit .. before fastening the wire mesh securely on the frame !

The size of the mesh (size of holes in the wire) .. just pretty much depends upon the smallest size of rock that you think that you can 'tolerate' .. remaining in the soil !
Chunk yourself some of your rock/dirt mixture onto the wire .. and give it a shake in a couple of different directions, and the dirt will fall thru .. leaving the larger (than the holes in the mesh) rocks and gravel - - there on top of the wire! Give the rocks a pitch over elsewhere .. (into a nearby cart, to cart off elsewhere) .. and then shovel another pile on to 'sift' ..

One can also make a bit larger 'dirt filtering contraption' (Hee!) .. and still use ones' own arm labor to 'sift & strain' .. by building an actual 'box' frame .. that will stand, or sit .. on the ground! One only needs to stand and give the 'unit' a few good shakes, and 'tah-dah' .. Then just pick up and move the stand over, to get to your sifted 'gold' ...

Naturally, this 'hand held' frame, is geared for the 'not too large' of flower beds .. !!

Coppell, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks so much for the sifter idea!

BUT! I have decided to just forget about my gardening efforts and have a rock garden! The rabbits have eaten all my beautiful flowers! Waaaahhhh!

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

Hmmm, time to put on the stew pot!! .. hee hee ..
I hear rock gardens are wonderful .. especially, if the rock 'breed' reproduces like ours do here!! Think the rocks are running neck-in-neck with the prolific bunny!! .. LOL .. The 'sifter' may would have been in vain after all. .. HeeHee ..
Best wishes !!

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Pssst....DivaSharon you might want to check out the newly reinstated Rock Gardening forum: (and maybe the recipes forum for some yummy rabbit recipes *smile*)

Gordonville, TX(Zone 7b)

Hahahaha, ha.


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