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" :-)