Rock mulch

Hi,
I'm new to the group, gardening in Michigan's zone 5. I bought my first house a year ago and have the good fortune to have a yard with a lot of mature plants in place, including goodies like a tree peony, about 600 bulb flowers, and nice variety of hostas. I am a fairly newbie gardener, especially to shrubs and perennials (some experience with annuals and vegetables).
At some point, someone mulched all of the flower beds and shrubs with small rocks. They did a good job, in that the rocks cover almost all of the soil and extend down about 3 inches into the ground. I suspect they also may have placed a layer of black plastic, as I occasionally unearth shreds of it when working in the beds.
At any rate, there are now lots of weeds coming up through the rocks, but the depth of the rocks precludes weeding with any type of tool; every last little intruder has to be hand-plucked. I can't really cultivate around plants at all. The rocks are in my way BIG TIME when I put anything new in. Also, many get raked out or kicked out when doing various gardening tasks and have to be gathered up and put back in, an ongoing minor hassle.
I have noticed that the rocks do seem to help the beds hold moisture, in a good way (i.e., beds drain well and the soil is very nice). The plants seem to be doing very well.
Nevertheless, I think I want to get rid of the rocks.
Are there compelling reasons to leave the rocks? Will it have a negative impact on the established plants' health/ability to thrive if I remove them?
If you agree that they should go, can you suggest a good method for removing them? They are relatively small -- look like purchased "river rock" or some such. Most are too small for a garden rake to work well, but too heavy for a leaf rake.
All advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance. Nice to "meet you" :-)
Jo Ann
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jo Ann wrote:

owners had had an above ground pool. As part of the purchase contract we asked that it be removed. We should have said "please take out the small pebbles of marble that surrounded the pool."
We are backyard veggie, flower, and fruit gardeners and the rocks were in the way. We raked with a spring steel leaf rake as much as we could and then hand picked the rest into plastic buckets during the first year we were here. One still turns up occasionally but I know of no easy way to get the !@#$%^ things out other than the way we did it. Thinking back we would have been better off to build a screen device of wood and 1/4 inch hardware cloth and then dig the dirt out with a shovel and put it through the screening device, then putting the rock in the trash can or in some place that really needed rock. Probably would have been much better for us.
Sorry I can't be more positive but I think you've got a manual job anyway you try it.
George in SW Louisiana
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Some rocks (limestone and marble) eventually affect soil PH, and the plants.

I had to totally remove some red-limestone rock mulch maybe ten years back, to restore the slope along the house. I tried a variety of ways, and finally used my "crabgrass rake" (it has heavy blades as tines) with some success. I used that heavy rake to "rake" most of the rocks off onto a tarp, and then pulled the plastic-with-rest-of-rocks up onto the top of them.
It is work, no matter how you cut it.
They are relatively small -- look like purchased "river

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
-snip-

Probably not-- but the plants will benefit from some type of mulch.

Sounds like the #2 river rock I put down everywhere 20 yrs ago. 'Good' way to get rid of them? Maybe. . . Easy? nope!.
I've got a piece of 3/8 hole hardware cloth that I lay across my wheelbarrow. I shovel a few shovel fulls on that & rake until the dirt falls into the barrow. i pick out the weeds by hand-- and when I have fairly clean rocks I scrape them into my other wheelbarrow.
I've tried cleaning with water-- but it is much messier. I've also eyed my concrete mixer and tried to envision how I'd make a cylinder out of that hardware cloth and let the mixer tumble things apart--- but simplicity wins out. i do a little each year and now most of my old rock mulch is gone. [except around the pool where I back flush the filter. The rock works well there-- and gets frequent rinsing.
Now I use cedar mulch. I also use a porous weed barrier- not plastic- under my mulch.
Good luck-
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Give it to them if they will help remove it and take it to their yard.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.