Dealing with Rocky Soil

by April Reinhardt
(last updated July 13, 2015)

One of the most difficult challenges gardeners face is that of trying to grow plants in rocky soil. Imagine placing a seed onto a stone slab and expecting it to take root. Logic dictates that a plant won't grow on a rock slab, and the same holds true even if the rock is just under the surface of top soil. Since roots require nutrients from soil to grow, along with sun and water, plant roots cannot penetrate through rock to find the nutrients and water they need to survive. So, what can you do if you discover that your soil is rocky? While you can take extreme measures and hire a backhoe to burrow through rock, or even more drastic, blast through the rock, even those procedures might not alter the soil to the degree plants need to grow.

Instead, consider supplementing the existing topsoil with more soil to create at least a foot of growing soil above bedrock. The steps to amend soil for growing are simple enough. Follow these steps to amend rocky soil to create a perfect growing environment:

  1. Create compost to use in your existing soil from wood bark, wood chips, manure, leaves, leaf mold, grass and plant trimmings, stems, stalks, branches, and paper. Throw onto the hap any other organic matter you have, but take care not to use weeds or foodstuffs such as meat.
  2. Till your rocky soil with a garden tiller, and remove obvious large rocks. This step may take several days, depending upon the amount of soil you want to amend.
  3. Dump your compost on top of the tilled soil and till the area again and again.
  4. Continue to add compost over several weeks until you have at least one foot of rich soil to grow your plants.

While you could simply apply a layer of composted material and soil over the compacted rocky soil, doing so is counterproductive since the roots of plants go in search of water and food. The roots won't penetrate the rock and will, instead, wither and die. It is much better to take several months or years creating a perfect layer of growing material for your plants, rather than to rush and just have a few inches of pretty—but unusable—top soil.

You may also consider working with what you have and find plants that will grow in rocky soil. Visit your local extension office, or speak with the staff at a qualified nursery to determine which types of plants will grow in your local rocky soil, appropriate for your growing zone.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

MORE FROM APRIL

Low Fat Desserts

Let's face it. Even when we're watching our weight and trying to eat healthy, there are times that we want a dessert. After ...

Discover More

Cleaning Asphalt Shingles

Most home owners are surprised to learn that the stains they see on their roof are caused by fungus, and do not result from ...

Discover More

Preventing Broadleaf Weeds

The best method for preventing broadleaf weeds in your lawn is to practice good lawn-mowing techniques, adequately water and ...

Discover More
MORE GARDENING TIPS

Seed Garden

There is more to a seed garden than simply going out and picking up a few packets of seeds and planting them. If you are ...

Discover More

Home Hydroponic Gardening

If you are interested in doing some home gardening, but really don't have a whole lot of space you may want to consider home ...

Discover More

Building a Box Garden

Building a box garden is easy to do, and can provide you with fresh vegetables and flowers year 'round, if grown indoors. All ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

Videos

Subscribe to the Tips.Net channel:

Visit the Tips.Net channel on YouTube

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

Links and Sharing
Share