Too many stones, rocks and pebbles interfere with plant growth. Remove pebbles from sandy soil around the coasts, and jagged stones from gravelly inland valley soils. Use the removed stones to weigh down light-weight pots or in drainage ditches. Make the soil sifter yourself to save money or purchase a soil sifter if you're mechanically challenged. Soil without rocks or stones is important for root vegetables such as carrots so they grow straight rather than fork and split.
Things You'll Need
18 inch by 24 inch wood picture frame
1/4 inch wire mesh 22 by 28 inches
Cut the wire mesh at each corner diagonally toward the center of the mesh about 2 inches long. The cut may be longer or shorter depending on the width of the wood frame.
Place the mesh inside the frame. Bend the cut edges so they wrap down and around the outside of the frame.
Staple the wire mesh to the wood picture frame every 3 inches. Turn the frame over and staple the mesh to the other side where you wrapped it around the frame. You should have a giant sifter.
Put the sifter on the wheelbarrow. Place a shovel of soil on the mesh frame.
Hold the frame over the wheel barrow and shift it side to side shaking the mesh at the same time. The soil should fall through the mesh and the stones stay on top. If the soil doesn't want to shake through, you'll have to force it through.
Place the frame on the edges of the wheelbarrow, so the frame is supported by the wheelbarrow. Use the edge of a hand trowel to push the soil through the mesh frame, leaving the stones on top of the mesh.
Put the stones in the bucket and use elsewhere. You could use them in the bottom of tall pots to anchor them or spread them as a path through the garden
Put a fresh shovelful of soil on the mesh and continue shaking until the stones have been removed. Continue until all the soil has been treated.
Mix the sifted soil with organic matter such as sterilized manure or compost. For every three parts soil use one part organic matter. Add slow-release fertilizer as the package directs. Use the soil in raised beds or return to the garden. If you mix the sifted garden soil half and half with potting soil you could use it in planters and pots. Plain garden soil is too heavy and compacts unless mixed with potting soil.