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Rock hounding a boulder field?


LawnSite Senior Member
Washougal, WA
Quick site review... Beach Ball / Basket ball sized boulders 50% content, nice rich dirt in between boulders, (but very little dirt, as you keep popping up beach ball sized boulders) - owner just wants it flat enough to mow, not necessarily lawn quality, just ez'r to maintain than the boulder field. He plans to hydro seed.

We used a D8 to split ~ 20 stumps (of 6' dia trees) and then graded off ~ 1' ft, then brought the dirt back across with a Case 650G 6-way, while I was sorting the rocks with the grapple

I modified the forks (to 4" spacing) to my Grapple for sorting the basketball and football sized stuff, Got about 60 yds of them ~ 1acre (buried 20 yds), and it's not too bad, but plenty of 4" and below plus larger, but skinnier that fell through the grapple.

so whats left?
boulders floating just below the surface (been back bladed with the 6way, so they are flush with surface, but below.

NOW.. to get the smaller rocks out (without hand picking 1 acre)

Can I rent something that will work?
I've never used or seen a Rockhound up close, do they have ability to work in soils that include the big rocks near the surface? (Spring teeth?) A rock rake on a tractor tends to get hung up on the buried boulders, and ends up hacking up the back bladed surface pretty bad.



LawnSite Member
Framingham MA
From what you decsribed if you try to rake it you will destroy the rake. If he doesnt care about quality why not bring in a few loads of clean fill, backblade it, and hyrdoseed it.

Bill S

LawnSite Member
Salem, NH
Most farmers have attachments for their loaders. It looks like a bucket only it is space steal so that soil filters out and rocks/boulders stay in the bucket. Check out your local John Deere for someone local that may have this attachment that will rent the attachment or do the work for you.

Gravel Rat

LawnSite Fanatic
British Columbia
The only way your going to fix that is go over top with new topsoil but first you need to take a vibratory roller and start rolling the the boulders down and packing the surface. Some of them might even bust up but you get them sunk into the ground and flat then they won't migrate through the new top layer. We have areas like that here you have to go over top or you will be fighting it for days trying to pick out the rocks.


LawnSite Bronze Member
That size rocks you will destoy the landscape rake. I try not to do jobs where they are as big as rip-rap size. They will not go in right they will hang up. Some times the best jobs are the one you dont do.


LawnSite Fanatic
Marysville, WA
Wasn't there a thread kinda like this one a while back? I'd get a rock bucket and scrape the big stuff off and get a Harley to finish the rest. The Harley can handle a good load of softball to football sized rocks no problem.


LawnSite Gold Member
Rock hound won't do it.
It is a bit unconventional but try planing the tops down to grade. I used to have an attachment called a tushhogg. It was a brush mower with planer or rock saw teeth. It milled rock to grade and slightly below. Was fairly fast, too.
Oh, the vibratory roller could work in theory. There are larger ones that will crack and break up rock while pushing it down. Needs a high frequency and a lot of vibratory force, however.

I have torn up more than one rockhound on rocks that wouldn't budge. It is best on softball and smaller rocks. Big rocks will jam between rake and bucket wall and could throw a chain or break a link.


LawnSite Silver Member
transition zone
Just get a rock bucket and scoop them up. TR3 makes a rock bucket that has exchangeable grates for different size rocks, I think down to 1 7/8 dia. You just scoop and shake and then hual out the rocks.


LawnSite Bronze Member
I have been trying to find a rockhound to rent for 3 weeks with no luck. I need it to prep for sod. I will use a harley rake if I can't find a rock hound.