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what to do with landscape rock if converting to a food forest


Joined: Sep 23, 2011
Posts: 2
Hello everyone,
  I moved to Phoenix about 7 years ago and was sucked into the xeroscape gardening and now I would like to transform this into a food forest .  I live on a very small lot and have tons of landscape rock that I put in myself because that was what I thought was the right thing to do.  It was suggested to experiment and remove the rock in some places and sheet mulch  and then sheet mulch directly over the rock in other areas. .  In the rocky areas I would just remove a small area to plant trees but leave the remaining rock surrounding it . I am trying to see if avoiding the removal of the rock and planting over it would work.   I was curious if anyone has tried this before and which was was more successful ?
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame

Joined: May 23, 2010
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
Move the rock.  Otherwise, it will make your plants work much harder to send down roots.  Sure, they'll manage, but why not make it easy for them? 

Also, if you ever decide to dig an area two years down the road, those stones will make you much more miserable when they are covered by a foot of soil. 

Use it for borders, build something with it, or just pile it up in one place until inspiration strikes you. 

If you want to grow something tropical that is marginal in your climate, a few large rocks on the north side will act as radiators on those cold desert nights. 
Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5732
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
I would remove the rocks and use them to make berms or other landscape features.  I tried gardening on top of rocks and it failed miserably.  Digging them out is hard, but worth it, in my personal experience!

Idle dreamer

richard valley

Joined: Aug 18, 2011
Posts: 216
Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
Not sure how many or how large your rocks are. Here we have rocks of all sizes some as big as houses some you can use in a slingshot. We move, split,pile, push and sell them. Move the rocks if nessary the earth likes grooming, likes to feel your fingers,water and your plants.
John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6883
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
If your land has a slope to it, you could move the rocks from the uphill side to the lower side. Half circles on the lower side of trees, shrubs and beds could greatly help storing the scarce rainfall you receive.
tel jetson

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3328
Location: woodland, washington
I don't think you need to remove all the rock. rock mulch can moderate temperatures relatively well. thicker layers of rocks and piles can provide some water to plants through condensation on the interior cold rocks. piles can also be good for critter habitat. you'll have to move the rocks to dig holes for planting, but you can put it back afterward.

I'm definitely with yukkuri kame, though: definitely don't sheet mulch over the top or otherwise bury the rocks.

and more specifics about the rock in question would help us help you.

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Jordan Lowery

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
whats under the rock is more important imo.

if they used weed block you gotta get that stuff out.

if its just rock and then soil, you actually have a benefit. landscaping gravel creates many many tiny tiny microclimates. microclimates for germination. toss some seeds out and water.

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
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