How to separate crushed rock from debris?

by Lou

Our neighbor gave us crushed marble, but there wasn't enough to fill the area. We used carpet as landscape fabric, but it has disintegrated and is a mess. Last summer we had to have our mature honey locust tree cut down. The twigs, leaves and a lot of debris landed on top of the rocks. I have sat on an upside down 5 gallon bucket picking one rock at a time. I have moved about 6 wheelbarrow fulls. Is there an easier way to sort out the rocks only? I tried to ignore the problem and the weeds took over.... The weeds are the least of my problems. I have raked it up but don't know how to use the rock without moving all the debris. Please help!

  7 answers
  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on May 30, 2019

    Would a leaf blower blow out debris? We use one to remove leaves and twigs in the fall off our rocks.

    • Lou Lou on May 30, 2019

      I hadn't thought of that.... I will try it. Thank you.

  • 17335038 17335038 on May 31, 2019

    Unless you completely remove all the remains of the disintegrated carpet first, you will continue to have a mess.

    • Lou Lou on May 31, 2019

      I am going to remove and throw away the carpet away, but I want to remove the rock first.

  • SM SM on May 31, 2019

    Leaf blower will work better if you rake the area really good just before blowing. This will loosen up the compacted debris.

  • Jan Clark Jan Clark on May 31, 2019

    Looks like a bunch of that debris will float. Try a hose and the blower.

  • Columbia GB Columbia GB on May 31, 2019

    Use a sifter over your wheelbarrow. Screw/nail together some 2x4's and staple some hardware cloth to the bottom. It looks like the attached photo. Use a spade/shovel/gloved hands and push shovel fulls back and forth across. Works great and much faster then you would think. Work from one end of the section to the other. Throw the gravel back down and then move the dirt elsewhere.

    Every serious garden should have a sifter. The best veg gardens are double dug, sifted and amended dirt. But, the sifter works great for other purposes, such as yours.

    Oh, and you should get rid of the rotten carpet as go, maybe put down a proper fabric. Good luck with whatever method you choose!

    comment photo
    • See 1 previous
    • Columbia GB Columbia GB on May 31, 2019

      It doesn't have to be perfect, you can just slap something together. There are a lot of different designs. I like my simple and fitting a couple of inches inside the wheelbarrow so it doesn't shift when you're moving the material. They store easy, too. A couple of big nails somewhere and you just hang it up. Again, good luck with it. Unpleasant job...

  • Mindshift Mindshift on Jun 05, 2019

    A leaf blower will work on light weight material, but the smallest stones may also be moved by the air flow. Most hand held leaf blowers will deliver between 200 and 400 cfm. Tossing the mixed materials and allowing the blower to separate them as they fall will work best, but this requires more physical exertion. Still, this is probably the best method for achieving the cleanest gravel.

    The sifter is less satisfactory. Small stones will fall through with small carpet remnants, but larger carpet remnants will remain mixed with the larger stones. You end up picking through much of the material.

    Using water to remove light weight materials also has mixed results. When I cleaned the gravel from my aquarium I used a hose to run water into the gravel in a bucket and allow the dirty water to flow over one side. The gravel had to be physically stirred to allow trapped material to float free. It was effective on small debris, but less effective on snails and their shells. It also used a lot of water to clean about a cubic foot of small size gravel.

  • Lou Lou on Jun 05, 2019

    Thank yo for sharing. We used the leaf blower and it worked wonders. What rock was too small to mess with I put in my carport as gravel.

    It is all cleaned out, weeds gone and waiting for landscape fabric. After deciding where to cut holes out for plants we will put in a drip irrigation system that I can hook the garden hose to. I can't wait to start planting flowers!!!