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Are Stones Good For Soil? The Pros and Cons

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Having stones in the soil can have multiple benefits. Stones in soil help it drain well while protecting it from erosion and evaporation of moisture.

Stones, when used as a soil amendment will increase drainage and aeration. Mulching with stones will help retain heat within the soil at night and prevent frost while at the same time preventing weeds from growing. Additionally, stones also help protect the soil from excessive moisture loss and erosion.

Stones are hard solid non-metallic mineral matter, of which rocks are made.

Soil management has become a crucial matter in order to prevent or reduce the danger that is being posed to agricultural sustainability in terms of plant development, yield, and health. 

In this article, we discuss how stones can benefit the soil as well as the downsides of using it.

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Benefits of Having Stones in Garden Soil.

stone mulch in potted plant (1)


Stones found in the soil help in drainage in a way that they act as barriers that help to keep away rain and other forms of precipitation for these stones in soil when they get exposed, they absorb heat from the sunlight more than other materials like mulch.

Stones make it much easier for drainage since they prevent the soil from being carried away, thus proving enough firmness for the soil and smooth movement of draining water into the soil.

It should be noted that lime water is not the best stone to be used for drainage.

Stones do not compact or degrade with time, they make an excellent component to a drainage system and do not require constant upkeep.


It is known that soil and water conservation go hand in hand, both are of value and should help in directing and conserving moisture. 

When stones are collected on soil, they help in occupying unnecessary air spaces that would give room for evaporation.

When the temperatures are too high during the day, the heat from the sun tends to heat the water from the soil.

Using stones as mulch helps insulate the soil beneath, which reduces water loss to the environment from evaporation.


Erosion is the gradual destruction or diminution of something soil in a garden or anywhere else that would be easily eroded by either wind or water. 

Stones help to prevent soil erosion since they can prevent water from picking up too much velocity and force that could enable easier carrying away of soil.


Soil aeration is the introduction of air into the soil. Soil aeration is an important factor for the normal growth of plants.

Stones help in aeration in that, on a hot day they cool the surface of the soil, but upon absorbing some of the sun’s heat, help to warm the soil at night, hence the air is exchanged throughout the day thus the decomposition of organic matter.

Root Penetration

Root movement into the soil shouldn’t have a barrier since it’s the core for plant growth.

When there is a high proportion of small, water-worn stones or pebbles on garden soil, it is a sign of gravelly soil.

Gravelly soil allows deep root penetration to areas that are wet below the soil for easy access to water that is needed for plant growth.


Stones stabilize the soil by increasing the strength since they keep it firm and rigid, it also decreases the compressibility of soft and loose finely graded soils, accelerates a consolidation effect, and also helps in reducing the liquefaction potential of soil.

This stabilization of soil can be achieved by reducing the particles of natural soil smaller ones.

Releasing Minerals To Soil

Stones near the surface of the rock undergo a process known as weathering.

There is a whole range of weathering processes taking place near the surface of the soil, acting together to break down rocks and release minerals into the soil.

The materials that are left over after the process of weathering takes place are released to the soil as minerals since the weathering process involved is a combination of both stones and minerals at large.

Bacterial Growth

It’s determined that a stone is like an additive that helps to inhibit the growth of mold into the system due to the components found in the stone. 

This has an important influence on fungal growth in the soil.

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What are the Downsides of having Stones in the Garden Soils?

In as much as stones could be of more use to the soil, they should also be limited at some particular angle. For healthy plant growth, it is important that you remove stones in your garden soil, it may be of no benefit to your plant.

Here are the downsides of having stones in the soil –

They tamper with the PH of the soil 

Most plants and trees prefer to grow in acidic soils, but then stones and rocks create an alkaline so rounding, and this could be a threat to both plants and trees.

Stones may also sink into the soil

Other stone-based ground covers are generally heavier than the soil upon which they are placed and this puts too much pressure and weight, thus over time, the rocks can start to sink deep down into the soil, where they can interfere with a healthy soil structure. 

This could make it difficult to till the land or rather plant something else shortly.

It may also cause injuries as projectiles

When you are using stone-based covers near areas that are mowed or trimmed, they can easily cause injury, these flying projectiles such as a mower can create a hazard for you and your family or rather workers in particular.

Stones retain heat

Stones and gravel rocks have a high capacity for absorbing and retaining heat. 

When temperatures are high, these stones on the surface of the soil are highly exposed, since a larger surface of their portions is exposed, they tend to absorb the most heat in line with the level of temperature during the day. 

They absorb and again release it back to the atmosphere as the temperatures reduce. 

They also reflect a lot of heat off to their exposed surfaces, the combination of both can increase the day and the evening temperatures in the area and make it hot for you, especially when you have them around your home.

Stones Lack Nutrients

The stones bring about no nutrients to the soil since they are inorganic ground covers, they don’t decompose and don’t improve the soil nutrients. This gives them no reason to aid plant growth.

stone mulch in potted plants

Types Of Beneficial Rocks

The following are examples of rocks that are found to be of more use and importance to soil;


This is a common type of carbonate sedimentary rock. It is composed mainly of minerals, though with different crystals from calcium carbonate.

When these minerals precipitate out of water containing dissolved calcium, limestone forms.

Limestone has been used over the years and is considered to be of so much value.

Slate-like rock

Slate-like rock is a fine-grained foliated homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original type of sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash. It is the finest grained foliated metamorphic rock.

It comprises hardness and abrasion; fissility; density and porosity, thermal conductivity, and thermal expansion.


This is a sedimentary carbonate rock that contains a higher percentage of the mineral dolomite. Dolomite crystals are colorless, white, buff-colored, pinkish, or bluish.

It is also a type of limestone rock.

Those are the types of beneficial rocks that have been identified over the running years.

Types Of Non-Beneficial Rocks

Rocks are all around us. They help us to develop new technologies and are used in our everyday lives.

Some rocks could be of so much use and others may also be harmful both to humans and to the soil;

Cinder Blocks

They are pyroclastic materials that are extrusive igneous rocks. They are fragments of solidified lava that are typically brown, black or red depending on the chemical composition in them. They are similar to a pumice stone.

Broken bricks concrete

Broken bricks concrete absorbs water easily and this may lead to fluorescence when they are not dried out or rather exposed to air.

The rough surfaces of the broken brick may cause two harms; one, the rough surfaces may cause mold growth, if not properly cleaned, and two, it may also cause injuries to those handling them.

This is because the texture on the broken edge may cause friction when they come into contact with the body of the handler.

Also when broken bricks are exposed to the sun for so long, their color tends to change over time, why? because, the fact that they are broken, has exposed a larger surface area to the atmosphere making it more available for the sun.

Can Stones be Used as Mulch?

A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil for the conservation of moisture, improving the fertility or health of the soil, reducing weed growth, and enhancing the visual appeal of a particular area.

People prefer to use a variety of types of mulch such as; chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded bark, pine, sawdust pine needles, and even paper, plastic too.

It is clear enough that stones can be used as mulch in this way since some rocks are porous and hence making them ideal as mulch. And they do have the advantage of being able to retain water for some time.

There is pumice stone which is a better example of a good stone that can be used for mulching because it has got water retention properties.

It is attractive since it has this dark-grey color on it.

Pumice is a solid example of the importance of stones as per mulching.

Placing Stones at the Bottom of a Plant Pot for Better Drainage.

A planter is anything or any container that one may choose to use to plant any plant.

Having a planter can improve your view for a certain plant of your choice.

As said earlier, stones do not compact or degrade with time, they make excellent components to a drainage system and they still do not require upkeep.

A layer of gravel being placed at the bottom of a planting container was also said to be recommended for decades, but then it may lead to root damage in plants. 

When gravel is put at the bottom of a vessel or pot, it takes up a lot of room or rather space that otherwise soil would fill. And this tends to make it much smaller for the plant to fit, hence reducing the quality of the plant as it grows.

Therefore, having a planter is good for drainage and, worse still, not good for the movement of roots as we have seen, it leads to the breakage of roots.

How to Remove Stones from Soil?

We have looked at several ways that stones can be useful to the soil and also other ways that they could be harmful to the soil.

Looking brightly on the other side, where they can cause harm, the solution is getting rid of them or removing them from the garden soil.

How is this going to take place?

This is by the use of a rototiller. A rototiller is a powered garden tool used to loosen the soil prior to planting and to keep pathways and non-planted areas aerated during the growing season.

Using this rototiller, slowly loosen the soil. This smooth process will break up the dirt and expose large rocks. Take the rocks and place them into a wheelbarrow as they are this until all the visible rocks are done with. 

Once you have finished the rototiller the area uses a garden rake to pull any stones from the soil and into a pile.

This is not the only way to get rid of stones from your garden soil; you could also use a tractor and a plow to separate the rocks, and the same can be done if there were glass in the soil. and the same can be done if there were glass in the soil..

Handpicking is not the best method since it is time-consuming and makes it so uncomfortable.

Therefore, stones are generally good for soil.

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