Ideas For Sifting Rocks Out Of Garden

I need to get the rocks out of my garden. I've already made a rectangular "box", open on top, heavy-duty wire mesh on the bottom, but lifting it to shake it hurts my back. I'm trying to create a way to put legs on it and shake it to filter out the dirt. I'm looking for examples, plans, etc.


Jo from Tacoma, WA


Rig Sanders To Vibrate

This might be a lot of hassle to go through, but if you got 2 electric sanders and fixed them onto a base upsidedown and attach your box to the "bottom" (now the top) of your 2 sanders, plug both of those into a multi plug and then 'plug er in!' Good luck, and if it doesn't work, sorry! It's just an idea of off the top of my head.

By Christian Cathro

Technique For Great Dirt

Oh boy, I can relate! I have a wooden framed screen, just one big sheet with wooden supports under it. I lean it against the building or whatever and let a shovelful of dirt cascade down the front, where the dirt falls through into my wheelbarrow. The rocks land in a box that I empty regularly into a bucket and carry to wherever I need rocks. I use them for drainage, digging a posthole and filling it with rocks, under my flowerbeds and one corner of the lawn that was too swampy. I sort them and use them for paths too.


One year I mixed rocks and potting soil on purpose to grow some comical crooked carrots for my godson. Neighbors are asking how I got such awesome dirt, and I tell them, I built it! By taking rocks out, then amending it to the proper balance (one-third sand, one-third clay, and one-third compost and vegetation matter, and you gotta remember that the compost goes away fast and needs to be topped up every winter). I love great dirt, it's about the most satisfying thing about gardening.

By Kim Churchman

Attach Wheels

Try wheels. Such as on a desk chair. They go every which way. Should help.

By Pearl

Old Wagon Wheels

How about something with wheels? Old wagon? cut bottom out and attach wire mesh reinforced?

Add Legs

You didn't state the dimensions of your screen box; could you nail 2 legs to it and stand it on the ground (the ground would be one side of the triangle, and the screen and the legs the other 2 sides). Rest the front edge in a container for the rocks and the 2 legs in a container for the dirt. Shovel the dirt onto the screen; the rocks roll down the inclined screen into the rock container, and the dirt goes through the screen into the dirt container. Can you picture what I mean? Bet it would work!


By Nancy from Florida

Use Water

What's wrong with using a hose to wash all the dirt through? I mean you'll have a bit of a mess, but it'd dry into nice, clean dirt!

By Beth

Teepee Structure And Other Ideas

I enlisted the help of my father-in-law on this one. He has collected rocks for years and has the same problem you do. Only he wants to keep the rocks, not the dirt. Maybe you two should work together! LOL! What he does is uses a teepee style stand. Maybe you have seen those stands that go over a campfire for cooking. It is a teepee with cords or wire coming down from the top. The end of the wires would be attached to the corners of your box so that your box is hanging in the air in the center of this teepee stand. You put in your dirt and shake the box without having to hold the weight of the box! Hope this helps. It seems it would be easy to build. Another idea is maybe you could recycle an old end table from a garage sale. Cut out the center of the table top and put in screen. I would think the legs would wear out pretty quick though. Hope this helps!


By Jill

Build One To Fit Your Wheelbarrow

I made one years ago and I still use it. Mine is the same size as my wheelbarrel, I took 1 1/2" X 1/2" wood and a piece of screen I bought at the hardware store. The holes in the screen are less than a half inch square. Three of the holes equals one inch. You need four pieces of wood for the long sides and three for the shorter ends. I nailed the screen between the wood on three sides, and the last end I nailed to the screen and to both long sides but I only have the one piece of wood there. Now I put the sifter on top of the wheel barrel and with my shovel scoop the garden soil on it. About five scoops at a time, with my hands (in gloves) I run my fingers through the soil and large rocks I pick out but then I can shake the sifter and all the soil goes in the wheel barrel. I then dump out the rock (in a spare wheelbarrel) from the end of the sifter with one piece of wood. Then I dump the rock free soil back into my garden. I live in Yakima, WA.


By Sandy

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November 8, 20070 found this helpful

why not buy you large kitchen plastic strainer to use there each time and just shake it and dump each time.

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By CArol in PA (Guest Post)
November 13, 20070 found this helpful

I hand pick the big ones and leave the smaller ones. I feel they help keep the soil from becoming too compacted. I dont believe Ruth Stout, the famous gardener, would have done more than I do. She was the original Lasagna Gardener. (smile)

Best of luck

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