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Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:14 pm
by SteveHGraham
I have a rock that sticks up in my front yard. It's in a grassy area where one would expect to be able to take a mower without running into stuff. Before I started working today to remove it, the exposed part of the rock was about as big as a salad plate. I decided to be bold and see what was under the ground. For all I knew, it covered an acre. I shoveled a lot of dirt away, and I gradually excavated a boulder about two feet long and 10 inches wide. I have not seen the bottom of it yet, but I can tell it's not huge, because I got it to move with the tractor.

I managed to hook a tow strap around one end of it, and I yanked it with the tractor. I got it to move about 9 inches, but there is an oak root across it at the forward end, and I'm pretty sure the tractor drove it farther under the root. I guess I'm going to have to cut the root with an axe or mattock in order to get the rock free so I can lift it with the front end loader. Annoying. If I could get a chain around the rock, I could probably pull it backward and out with the front end loader, but the rock is not cooperating.

The mattock is a huge disappointment. I got it at Home Depot a few years back. The vertical edge seems to be fairly sound, but the horizontal blade is so soft you can bend it while trying to pull it out of a root. I'm wondering if I should heat it and quench it in oil to see if it improves. It's just about useless. Must be Chinese. I think a mattock is a good tool for this purpose, but that's not helpful information if it's not possible to buy a good mattock.

I am wondering what other people do to remove big rocks they can't get under with a front end loader or backhoe. If I had a really big backhoe, I'd rip this thing out, roots and all, but all I have is a 37 HP tractor with a loader. I suppose I could remove rocks with the front end loader if I removed the brush forks, but that's a major operation, and the forks are very useful, so I am reluctant to take them off.

I have read that people sometimes use rear-mounted middle busters or subsoilers to remove rocks. I barely know what these things are, but the idea seems to make sense.

In the past, I have yanked concrete slugs by drilling two holes in them, filling the holes with epoxy, and inserting U-shaped rebar. It makes useful eyes for chains or ropes. I can do that now if I get desperate, but I was hoping to save the rocks for landscaping, and rebar is not good for their appearance.

I have a number of other partially buried rocks, and I intend to get rid of them. I never want to see sparks when I'm mowing again.

If anyone knows of a fast way to bust underground tree roots, I would love to hear about it. Right now I'm planning to use the rotary hammer with a chisel-y bit attached.

If all else fails, I can go after the roots with a Fein Multimaster.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:36 pm
by Russ Hanscom
My father used to remove a lot of them with dynamite. If you pack it under one end, the rock should go the other way.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:44 pm
by SteveHGraham
Don't tempt me.

I'm now thinking the Sawzall is the tool for the roots.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:48 am
by liveaboard
I suppose every rock is it's own problem; size, depth, shape, weight, obstructions, access.

I made a trenching bucket for the front end loader of my tractor, that gives me some backhoe abilities at a very small cost. I pulled out medium rocks [far too heavy to lift by hand] without even noticing until I dumped the load.
thrench bucket full.jpg
thrench bucket drag.jpg
trench bucket dump.jpg
trench dog.jpg
Of course if the rock is too big for the bucket then you're out of luck; and if your ground is too hard, it won't work.
It doesn't care much about tree roots, or buried plastic pipes.


Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:52 am
by earlgo
Steve, it sounds like it would have been worth the effort to remove the top of the rock to ground level and left the rest of the iceberg 'in situ'. But then I am not there to see.
--earlgo

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:35 am
by SteveHGraham
Maybe so. I would have to do it by hand or remove my brush forks. Hard to say which is the bigger job.

I'm starting to think a 60 HP tractor is in my future. I love the Kubota, but every so often I come up against a limitation.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:44 am
by SteveHGraham
That bucket is very impressive. Must have taken a lot of work to create it.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:11 am
by John Hasler
I have a three-point rear bucket for my 8N (doesn't fit the IH544, unfortunately). It's less flexible than that front bucket but it has the advantage that as it bites in the downforce on the rear wheels increases, increasing the available draft.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:20 pm
by BadDog
I've got a subsoiler with a spade foot I use for trenching (aka "center buster"). But the chisel buster shank+tip (1" x 6" shank with narrow hard tooth like a backhoe) has worked for getting "big stuff" out of the ground. Drag it in and down deep till it bites, lift up on 3 point to enhance traction (front tires near in the air), and go forward in the lowest gear. Rocking back a few times if it's really stubborn, but I've gotten some 5 gallon size concrete post footings out like that with my substantially smaller tractor (B2150).

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:30 pm
by liveaboard
SteveHGraham wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:44 am
That bucket is very impressive. Must have taken a lot of work to create it.
Actually it was pretty quickly done; just torch cut plate welded together. Only the top link took some time and some head scratching to fabricate. The geometry was hard to get right.
It's reservable so I can dig forward too, but the capacity is much lower that way.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:48 pm
by SteveHGraham
I think I'm going to get a subsoiler. I found one that has a shear pin, and the price isn't too bad. It has to be better than a shovel.

Re: Strategies for Removing Rocks from Yard

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:12 pm
by warmstrong1955
Graham.jpg
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