A Heavy Rock Without Hurting Your Back
At some point, a gardener may need to move heavy rocks. Maybe some large rocks will be used as part of a landscaping project or incorporated into a stone wall, or perhaps a small boulder has lain beneath the garden for years, getting in the way each time the garden is tilled. No matter why a heavy rock needs to be moved, itís a tough job that can take its toll if not done correctly.
Before beginning to tackle a rock-relocation project, make sure you are prepared for the job. Wear a pair of heavy gloves to protect your hands, and wear heavy shoes to protect your feet. Steel-toed shoes are best, while sneakers, sandals or bare feet are unacceptable. Take another gander at that heavy rock too. Are you sure you can safely move it? If you think the rock may be too large to move it safely, donít attempt it at all. If the rock is too large but it simply must be moved, hire someone to move it with a tractor or backhoe. Donít take chances with your own health and safety.
Rocks that are a hundred pounds or less can usually be moved by one person using the right tools and techniques. A pry bar is an essential tool for moving a heavy rock. A 4-foot long pry bar looks much like an extra-long crowbar and it is used as a lever. If the rock is completely above ground, slip the flat tip of the pry bar beneath the rock and place a smaller rock or block of wood beneath the middle to lower part of the bar. Using the smaller rock or block of wood as a fulcrum, push down on the other end of the pry bar to lift the rock. Slide another rock or block of wood beneath the rock to support it, then use the pry bar to lift and shift the rock a few more inches.
If a heavy rock needs to be moved just a few feet, it may be possible to ďwalkĒ, roll or flip the rock to its new location. Walk a fairly heavy rock to its new location by first moving one side forward a bit, then rotating the other side forward. Or lift an edge of the rock and flip or roll it forward again and again until the rock is where you want it to be. Crouch down low to lift the edge of the rock, and always lift with your legs and arms rather than lifting with your back.
Use your pry bar to loosen the heavy rock and gradually lift and slide it onto the stone boat. Then pull the stone boat and the rock to the rockís final resting place. Bring the pry bar along for the ride and use it to lever the rock from the stone boat.
A rock that is just too heavy to be lifted at all can be pulled from one place to another. In the past, this job was accomplished with the help of draft animals. But these days very few of us have access to strong horses or oxen and we must resort to using tractors or other heavy machinery. Youíll need a length of cable, chain, heavy rope or nylon webbing to make a sort of sling that is wrapped around the heavy rock. Then the rock is pulled to its new location with the tractor. When using this method to move heavy rocks, use caution and never allow anyone to come near the cable, chain or rope while it is taut. A chain or cable that breaks while taut has a whiplash effect that can seriously harm or even kill anyone standing within its reach.
Begin by lifting an edge of the heavy rock with your pry bar, and have your helper slip two of the pipes or logs beneath the stone. One should be near the front and the other at about the middle of the rock. Place a third pipe or log on the ground in front of the rock, toward the direction you want to move the rock. Now roll the rock forward onto that third pipe and keep rolling it until the rear pipe is no longer beneath the rock. You may need to use your pry bar to help push the rock forward. Once the rear pipe or log is free, move it forward in front of the rock and repeat this leapfrog process until the rock is in its new location. Use this method only on fairly flat surfaces.
by Michael J. McGroarty