How to Amend Rocky Soil

The excitement of starting a new garden plot can quickly turn to frustration if you discover your soil is excessively rocky. Growing a garden in rocky soil is difficult, as this type of soil often lacks nutrients and proper water retention. While some gardeners give up, or utilize container gardens, amending rocky soil is not exceedingly difficult.

  1. Begin transforming your rocky soil into a suitable garden patch by removing any large stones from the area. Starting with a small, level area helps to keep the work manageable. Keep in mind that you can always increase the size of your garden over time. 
  2. Use a straight rake to remove any surface rocks and debris from the area. Then break the soil down to around eight inches, turning it over with a rototiller and moving all the large rocks off to the side. Remember to work slowly and be on the lookout for large rocks when tilling, as this can cause damage to your equipment.
  3. After the garden's soil is turned and free from larger stones, begin to lay down organic compost. Good choices for the compost include peat moss, well rotted manure and even lawn trimmings. You should try to build a good 3-4" of organic compost on top of your garden plot. Go over the area again with your rototiller to work the compost into the soil.
  4. When you choose organic material for your compost, it is important to choose material that is right for your soil's needs. Peat moss can help with retaining moisture, and other organic materials can help replace nutrients the soil is lacking. For the best results, speak with someone at your local nursery.
  5. This entire process should be repeated two or three times to create good soil for planting.

When you plant in your new garden, it's best to dig deeper and wider holes for your plants. This will give the plants' roots a better chance of finding the nutrients they need to survive. If you find that your plants keep dying, you should speak with a local nursery expert.