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Stones in my soil

Trying to dig well rotted horse compost into my clay soil beds but I keep coming across hundreds of pebbles and stones. Looks like more stone than soil In my beds! image

I‘m fairly new to gardening and need advice please. 


  • I feel your pain, short of digging the whole lot out and getting new topsoil you will just have to remove them when you find them. Get yourself a stone bucket and try not to roll your eyes when the 10th person says “well at least you will have good drainage” 

  • Unless it is very important to you with straight carrots, pebbles in the soil isn't a big problem, they both release nutrients, prevent erosion and stops the soil from becoming compact. Just pick out the really big ones when you come across them. 

    But don't buy a cultivator, the pebbles will wear it down in no time. image

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    My clay soil is naturally full of stones, too, and they can be a pain. If you want to grow carrots and parsnips and so on, you need to clear the beds, as FL says. I have a windy site and use a lot of stakes and supports and I find it very frustrating to keep hitting rocks. It can also be a problem when planting shrubs or young trees because their roots are blocked. (Some of the stones are a foot across and a hole may yield several.)

    I take a practical approach, removing larger stones and rocks as I come across them and making a special effort with new beds or planting. We have built or repaired some pretty walls with them and our builder used a lot when repairing the porch some years ago.

  • Posy, you can still grow carrots etc, but they might end up looking something like this:

    But they are perfectly fine to eat. 

  • Im not planning on growing any veg just plants and shrubs. I’m worried my plants will fail so is there anything I can do apart from the painstaking job of picking them out. They are mostly pebbles between 1-3 inches and some bigger stones. Thanks

    Last edited: 09 February 2018 22:53:33

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    Your plants should be fine unless what you have is a lack of soil. Take out some of the big stones and leave the little ones if you can't face clearing them. Pile well rotted compost on top to build up the soil. One of the worst problems with clay is poor drainage but you should be fine with all those pebbles.

  • Thank you everyone for your help and Posy for the reassurance. I guess I’ll have to pick out as many as I can! Already filled half a wheel barrow from 2 metres of digging.  image

  • IamweedyIamweedy Posts: 1,364

    Some of my child age  Leicestershire ancestors listed in the 1840s and later census's  information as Stone pickers.  No such thing as attending school then. 

    'You must have some bread with it me duck!'

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 26,991

    Not too bad if it's only half a barrow from 2 metres. I can get a barrowload of brick rubble in less than that.

    Plants grow, I only excavate rubble where I'm putting a shrub.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
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