I'm sifting out rocks in my garden, which I'm pretty sure used to be a gravel lot. I'm wanting to grow root vegetables like radishes and carrots, so I don't want them having to push rocks out of the way as they grow.

I've heard that you shouldn't worry about rocks under an inch in diameter, so according to that, I should be sifting these rocks out.

But.. I've also heard not to worry about rocks smaller than an egg, so according to that, I shouldn't worry.

What size rocks are worth sifting out of a garden, and which ones aren't?

2 Answers 2


The contradictory advice that you received about what size of rocks to remove relates to what you are growing. For tomatoes, I wouldn't be concerned with rocks the size of a baseball. If I was growing carrots, parsnips or potatoes, I would want to get any rock out that is larger than a quarter. Radishes grow so abundantly that I would just compost any that were split when they encountered a rock, and harvest the rest.


In the active growing area of the beds, I prefer 1/4" screen if I'm bothering to screen for garden purposes. Given the choice of unscreened or 1" screened, I'd prefer the 1", but if I'm the guy screening it, I'd rather go through 1/4" and get a nice fine soil, especially for root vegetables.

However, much of my garden has not actually been screened, so I just toss rocks when I run into them, at which point large enough to hear (as an implement strikes it) and large enough to bother picking up rule the equation. That is somewhat variable by what I am doing.

Screening is a lot of labor - screening a bit finer does not add too much labor if you use a self-sifting long angled screen.

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