Where do you all get your rocks?

Karen in 4
50 years ago

I am rock crazy. Just ask my husband. On a recent trip to Seattle he threatened to divorce me if I talked about all the rocks available there just one more time. (Little does he know I put about four potato-sized rocks from there in our luggage to bring home. I just about burst out laughing when he kept complaining about how heavy the suitcase was!)

So my question is, where do you all get your rocks for your rock gardens? I was lucky enough to have a small amount--maybe 10 pieces--of lovely fieldstone in my yard to get me started. But I want more, more, more! I live in the middle of Minneapolis, and I really am loathe to BUY rocks, but is that the best way? I did scrounge a few pieces from a park along the Mississippi River, but I was paranoid that (a) I was doing something ecologically evil, and (b) that the cops would pull up and give me a citation for removing property from a city park.

So what are your sources?

Comments (103)

  • waplummer
    18 years ago

    When I was a lad back in the 30's & 40's my dad would collect rocks from the roadsides and it was my brother's and my job to unload the trunk and carry them up the hill to where he wanted them.

    We built our house in the early 60's and by the side of the creek about a half mile away was a humungous rock 3 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft. We talked our plumber to use his backhoe to bring it over to our yard. I had a hole dug for it, but in the excitement and worrying about our young boys and the neighbor's boys, it was planted upended and I had to maneuver it so it was horizontal.

    Thirty years ago I decided to build a rock wall. there was another creek directly across from us that supplied most of the rocks. This was after a disastrous flood that hit our area and a house with a stone foundation was destroyed. That was a wonderful source of rocks. I also located an old stone wall and paid to have them trucked. All my other rocks have been unearthed while digging planting holes. One huge flat slab was next to the garage foundation and it made a beautiful stone above my small pond.

  • chris_n
    18 years ago

    To Junior Balloon - You're right that taking from active quarries is stealing. I don't think about it much at the one I go to because it is a gravel producing limestone quarry. The rock is blasted from the walls and then run through a crusher to produce limestone gravel for construction use. The rocks I take are from the overburden pile. This has the uppermost layer of rocks which are weathered and do not meet the criteria for gravel. I don't think the quarry operators care if I take some this stone as it is the stuff they would leave anyway.

    The obvious question is, Why don't I ask the owners for permission? Because they can't give it for safety and insurance reasons. The property is posted and states that no one is allowed on the premises unless they have completed a specific OSHA safety course. This is a good idea. Quarries are extremely dangerous places even when they are not in active use. The walls are usually unstable and can drop rock pieces for no apparent reason. The best bet is to stay out of quarries unless you are with a trained quarry person.

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  • microfarmer
    18 years ago

    Where did I get mine? Construction sites mostly and some side of the road finds for a couple special looking rocks. I am blessed to live close (3 miles) to great river rocks from left over dredge tailings of the gold rush. Also there is a LOT of construction here so just up the hill from me (about 10 miles) they are digging housing pads outta the side of the hills and paying to get rid of rocks. Then they pay to bring in manufactured stone for the gate posts (gated community)...go figure...

    I just stay away from the building materials so no one thinks I'm stealing.

    Here's my backyard...


  • jakesmom
    18 years ago

    Thanks for your posts. I have really enjoyed reading all of them. Especially the lady that sneaked the rocks into her stuff when she moved. That was a hoot.

  • sbeuerlein
    18 years ago

    I estimate that in my rock walls and rock gardens I have amassed about thirty tons of rock, all gathered at construction sites or along the freeway cuts. Killed one Toyota pick-up and have about half killed my GMC. I consider this activity an indication of some type of mental illness, especially in that I find myself doing it half the time in winter rain and snow. Can't do much with plants then, so I start doing stuff with rocks. I always thought it was my Catholic guilt that makes me paranoid everytime I collect, but it seems that others on these pages feel it too. Rationally, I know that the rocks that come from foundation holes are of no value to anyone (but me) and that construction people are probably glad to have them out of their way, but still I find myself collecting them only on weekends or evenings. I don't know what the law says about stopping along the freeways to collect the rocks that fall from the cuts, but I haven't been cuffed yet. But then again, I work fast and get the hell out of there, so who knows?


  • jimmy_the_k
    18 years ago

    Karen - I collect rocks as vacation souvenirs too - I brought a hunk of nice Canadian Shield feldspar back in my duffle from a fly-in fishing trip, thought we'd never lift off the lake because of me... I could just visualize the headlines when they salvaged the plane: Poacher Attempts Escape, Loses Rock, Life ...

    Out here in Eagan every shovel I turn is like the rock lottery. Layers of clay alternate with rocky layers of sand, I think it was streambed at one time. I have piles of I rocks I've dug in our yard while landscaping, saved so as to maintain the kharma. I use them around the pond and yard.

    But I look for good construction projects, road work etc - there's lots of it in Dakota Cty - and ask the foreman if anyone cares if I take any. Bringing a sack of Chips Ahoy doesn't hurt either. Got some great finds by driving around, though I have bought one or two that called to me...


  • Karen_in_4
    18 years ago

    It's too funny that this post is still going! I love it how half of us are keeping an eye to the road, searching for rocks for the easy taking whenever we drive, and the other have are utterly SICK of the rocks that infest the ground.

    I've unfortunately not been able to incorporate the many rocks I have lining the inside of one side of my garage this summer. Two children under age 3 and rheumatoid arthritis have hampered my efforts! Damn! My husband GLARES at me every time he walks by the garage wall of rocks since I PROMISED him last fall I would move them all out of there come spring.

    The link below will be updated (it's really filled in!) as soon as I can get my upload program to work again. Grr.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of how some of my rocks are incorporated -- much in progress

  • des_arc_ya_ya
    18 years ago

    Awww, man! You mean there are actually others out there just like ME?? LOL I loved the story of moving the rocks smuggled into boxes. My DH, bless his soul, will move (or try to!) any rock that I want! How many of you have tons of photos of interesting rocks? I do that, too! LOL

    Interesting post - now I need to be outside cleaning on my own yard (and trying to decide where I want to relocate rocks!)

  • cassiemaas
    18 years ago

    I loved reading about all the rock collectors. I'm not sure I'd want to get caught collecting rocks out of a quarry. Seems too much like their primary product!!

    I want to know how to move heavy rocks. I saw the terms block and tackle in a post and have researched the web and found one good example. Can canyone give me ideas on how to pull rocks out of a creek without killing myself in the process?

  • sbeuerlein
    18 years ago

    Know any Egyptians?


  • YNQ335atHome
    18 years ago

    I just joined Garden Web and I too am a rock nut! I have destroyed a child's red wagon and the passenger side of my station wagon by bringing boulders home for my garden. The largest rock I ever "collected" was about the size of a small ottoman. I usually "casually" walk around the neighbourhood looking for a newly-excavated site where a new home would be built, and then return early on a weekend morning with my car. I find you have to be quick because as soon as the old house is torn down, the dirt (and rocks) is hauled away within two days to make room for the pouring of the foundation. Timing is everything! A new home built two streets over in my neighbourhood had 5, count-'em-- 5 huge boulders (2 1/2 feet high) lined up gingerly on the sidewalk, as if begging for someone to come claim them -- otherwise the developer has to haul them away to the dump and is charged by the weight, not to mention the time and manpower to make at least two trips. Unfortunately, I was unable to bring any of them home and the last time I walked past the newly-finished, landscaped home, the developer had kept only one of the boulders as a focal point for the front lawn!

    Talk about missed opportunities!

  • DunnoNothing
    18 years ago

    oh man I am SOOOOOO JEALOUS!!!!! I live in central Illinois and there aren't any rocks around for MILES. Well not sizable (bigger than fist size) anyway. Even the river banks are barren - no Rocks.

    I have to buy every rock I have and they aren't cheap either - 22 cents a pound for Colorado roundstone, and 15 dollars a square foot for flagstone!!!!!

    I used to live in Southern California - Rocks were abundant, just take a hike through the dessert. Boy how I miss that....

    Makes a fella (and a bank account) wanna cry >:(

  • quidnunk
    18 years ago

    It was so refreshing to read that other people are rock lovers too. My husband and I hauled rocks from a construction site near our house this past summer. The neighbors would come over just to see what we were doing with all the rocks we hauled over in our 16 quart cooler. There were just there for the taking. We did three sides of our yard, redid the side yard, put in a little rock garden and even put some out front. It was great. And now we both just love rocks and notice them wherever we go.

  • mtmermaid
    17 years ago

    what a great thread!

    i come by my 'rock love' quite naturally. alot of sunday afternoons were spent walking gravel roads as a family collecting agates when i was growing up. dad had a tumbler and made gorgeous table tops with them.

    i in turn, passed this on to the next generation ;-) youngest son is a rock hound that took the bottoms out of all his dresser drawers with the rocks he stored there in lieu of clothes.

    we (DH and i) farm and are 'blessed' (my words, lol, not his!) with an abundance of great rock piles that over many years he cleared off the fields! now i'm bringing them home

    what i haven't noticed mention of here ..... and i find indispensable ..... in the long run, cheaper than replacing vehicles ..... is a trailer. i'm fortunate in that i'm able to use our 4 x 8 foot garbage trailer that sits about a foot off the ground. makes it alot easier to get some of the bigger rocks. and, joy oh joy, have a friend that just got a prairie wagon with a tommy lift!!!

  • penny_md6
    17 years ago

    Oh my! I don't believe this thread is still alive.
    I priced a pallet of fieldstone last summer and just can't see paying $250. when there are so many great rocks all around where I live.

    I'll probably get nailed for this by those who have a distain for us "rock thieves" but I went out rock hunting last summer and found a great spot that was over run with some excellent rocks. It was on a quiet rural road and there was no one around.

    I had just rolled a large rock down a steep hill when I realized there was a person on horseback at the bottom of the hill. She was staring at me as if to say, lady, WHAT ARE YA DOING?

    I just grinned and said, "I'm relocating rocks." She shook her head and said, "uh huh, to your yard no doubt."

    No one could truly enjoy the beauty of those rocks up on that hill. Now thay are much admired by anyone that passes my house.

  • oldieRI
    17 years ago

    My grandson, aged 7, and I moved a big pile of granite boulders into a more satisfactory configuration 50 feet away using a pry bar, some log rollers and a come-along which has got to be the greatest invention ever for a rock lover. Some of the stones were over 300 lbs. We put a log chain around them and hauled, slow but sure.

  • rhine59
    17 years ago

    I make my own or at least am starting to. I got the idea about a week ago and tried it and it worked. Go to the Garden Junk forum and click on the "Picture of my rock" thread. There is a picture of the finished project. If you scroll down from there you should find another thread titled "Rock Project". I give instructions on how I did it.

  • rleibman
    17 years ago

    To those taking rocks from construction sites:
    Ask first. Most builders and/or owners would love for you to take their rocks, others may be rock-nuts like you and consider taking them without asking stealing. But most importantly, they have a potential liability if you hurt yourself at the construction site (including back injuries from moving rocks!).

  • well_rooted
    17 years ago

    I am about to head out down the road for a little "rock relocating". Love this thread!

    My biggest rocks were brought in by backhoe. The biggest was 4'x4'x3'. He is a friend and into rocks himself. I just walked along an old road on the mountainside above us, pushed rocks into his path and pointed them out to him as he drove along. Then he made trips down to our house. Had to arrange with neighbours on both sides to cross their property. The rocks look great!!

    Today I go for smaller rocks along a road allowance, the downhill side. They are not part of the support for the road. One needs to be careful of that. Also rocks along a riverbank are important to prevent erosion.

    I just can't imagine not having rocks at one's disposal. Here in British Columbia they are everywhere!!

    Those of you concerned about paying for rocks, be sure to take into account that those of us who go out on rock finding expeditions are spending money on gas, and have mishaps that cost us money (yes, I was out on a rock reconnaissance mission in the boondocks on a logging road and drove over a rock rather than swerving - hey gotta watch out for logging trucks! I was driving our car that day. Low carriage. To my relief I didn't damage anything. But there is a permanent large bulge on the floor and my two sons will never let me live it down!).

  • time_to_grow
    17 years ago

    Does anyone know how to get giant rocks (that are too big to manually lift) into the trunk of a car and out? I've been trying to think of all these ways to take this beautiful giant rock home, but need advice. I don't know anyone with a backhoe!

  • hannamyluv
    17 years ago

    When I was younger, my mother would embarass the living daylights out of my siblings and me by pulling over to the side of the highway where the road had been blasted through a hill/mountain. There would be just mounds and mounds of flat shale rock. She make us load up the van with the shale to make the paths and patios that now meander and dot her property. I would be SOOO embarassed. What if someone saw me!

    Now that I am all grown up with a garden of my own, you can find me at the side of the highway with my kids gathering up rocks. I think it's in the blood.

  • MeMyselfAndI
    17 years ago

    Housing development construction site! I'm so excited! You guys were right! All they have done so far is make the street (no basement holes yet.) We grabbed rocks from just 1 small part today and had to stop because of the weight in the truck. I found quite a few pretty pink granite ones, and several striking blue and green ones I don't know.

  • vicki3
    17 years ago

    Go to the creek! If you're fortunate enough to live close to one. Some of the best rocks you'll ever find.

  • shbowen
    17 years ago

    I find myself looking at every stone I see and picking up what I really like fortunately most people think it's kinda cool to help me. I have two great places to buy rocks as well. They are so inexpensive. They run a tab for me so we don't waste invoices. Cherryland Cut Stone and Blue Star Landscaping. I use them in the yard and also make stone birdhouses. It is good to see so many posts from all over the country. It feels good to know there are others out there. Rock on!

  • kyme
    17 years ago

    I would love to have the name of the place in Louisville for rocks.
    I collect them to outline my goldfish pond. I also have some from old family farms. I always ask for these as I do my other hobby genealogy and I locate great great grandparent's farms.

  • jadagreen
    17 years ago

    My mother also sent us collecting rock along the highway. I also felt uncomfortable doing it. Now I have been collecting some rock that way myself. There are those rocky hills along the highway which rock slides down or falls off over time. I also have a friend who has a creek on her property it's at the bottom of a hill. Every time they get a really heavy rain more rocks, even bolders roll down into the creek bed. I have decided to limit my rock collecting to her place even though it's a 40 minute drive. I get a better variety they are easy to collect and I don't worry about whether someone might object to my collecting the rocks. My friend is begging for people to take them because sometimes they have to drive into the creek after the heavy rain because the bridge gets washed out. It make the creek easier to pass through. I currently doing a rock garden/dry stream. I am nearly done it's looking great. I am getting lots of complements from the neighbors. That makes all that heavy labor worthwhile. I get a good feeling from look at my handywork. I would like to post pictures but I have no idea how to do it on this website. Perhaps someone can fill me in.

  • IBdizzy
    16 years ago

    this thread is amazing. lol
    I started my own rock relocation program two summers ago. Luckily, my mom still lives on the old homestead with the most wonderful creek running thru it. I'm guessing I made at least 14 trips for rocks and small boulders and my little mazda truck will only take about half a ton at a time. Ol' MarvyTruck rode pretty low to the ground many many times that summer and he's still tickin' along.
    This summer I finally put down rock "pavers" throughout the dogpen, dug my 16'x 9' pond, and layed my stone steps and patio. I can't believe how great it all looks. I've still got a huge pile for rock for future projects but I can't keep from wanting to go back for more. Even when my friends and I went on a cruise in Carribean I found myself lusting over boulders left haplessly along the roadside in Cozamel and Belize. So many beautiful boulders and no one to care... for shame for shame.
    I am now recovering from knee surgery and feeling rock wrangling withdrawls(ugh). The doctor has strickly forbidden me from hauling rocks so of course I'm just biding my time and therefor ran across an item that alot of you might be interested in. It's called a spitzlift; you attatch it to your truck to lift the biggies in without breaking your back or ruining your knees(grin)and it's detatchable so you don't have drive around with it sticking up all the time. just tuck it behind the seat or in the truck box.
    if interested go to-- http://spitzlift.com

    keep writing guys!!! love your stories.

  • juju222
    16 years ago

    My brother lives down the street from a construction site and asked if they could "relocate" some rocks. Answer was yes - sooooooooo we joined in and now have a great collection of lovely white rocks!

  • Mitsy
    16 years ago

    Woo Hoo! I just made a wonderful score! I found some flowstone amongst the limestone rip rap alongside one of our creeks about a year ago, but had no way to bring the 40, 150 to 300 lb rocks home. We borrowed the neighbor's tractor and lifted them out with a strap and the loader bucket. Now I have three really cool-looking stones (gotta have that odd number)
    Flowstone is formed inside limestone caverns which are then broken up in the process of mining the limestone. It has translucent brown bands and spots, almost petrified wood-like in some places and embedded with some sandstones. These stones won't be buried, but just set up as a focal point, since the detailing is all around the stones.
    I took some photos this morning, but I doubt it'll do them justice.
    I am jazzed!

    Here is a link that might be useful: My Gardens and More

  • redblossom40
    16 years ago

    You guy's think you have it bad(the fever), but I work at a construction site running equiment and working as a gradechecker. So I spend my days looking at rock and picking them out to take home. My husband thinks I'm crazy. He also works with me. I'm always looking for the prefect rock. I have the fever so bad that I can go through a large pile and only find one I like. Working at conctruction site I see alot of people coming around without asking, If very dangerous. The guys running in equiment don't see you or me sometimes, so if you go there go after they are gone or ask.

  • Ina Plassa_travis
    16 years ago

    : ) I live in rock country- my folks live on a shale outcropping, and I just moved 3 whole blocks from the delaware River, so it's not a matter of finding rocks- it's a matter of finding 'THE' Rocks... I'm confining myself to the local red shale, with a few accent rocks- but oh, the shapes I've found. almost perfect squares. dolems ready to be stood up- I made a curb for my in laws house out of one single stone- it was 3"x5"x4'+...it took two of us to get it into the car- but it's stunning looking with the dead nettles pouring over it :)

    I used old concrete as the bottom tier of my walls- there was a fair bit of it on my property, and it's now hidden by the lawn from the front, the mulch from the back, and the shale slabs on the top- and the walls are tall enough to sit on in places :)

  • KARocks
    7 years ago

    I am needing to get a lot of basketball size smooth rocks like the ones from colorado rivers. they are expensive to buy in oklahoma where i live. does anyone know if it's illegal to pick them up along the rivers in colorado?

  • cearbhaill (zone 6b Eastern Kentucky)
    7 years ago

    Funny story- we often gather rocks along a state highway where there are always rockslides and abundant debris. We are not the only people that go there- the entire stretch of road is frequented by rock scavengers.

    The other day we were there with a pick up full of rocks and were even using a winch to pull a particularly large boulder onto a trailer when we saw a Department of Highways truck slowing down and pulling over.
    We thought "Crap! We are so busted- our luck has finally run out."

    The guy stopped, got out of the truck, approached us and said "Hey, guys- need any help?"
    Happy day, indeed!

  • mikebotann
    6 years ago

    I'm surprised with all the posts about rocks no one has any pictures of what they have done with the rocks.
    Here's what I've done with some quarry rock. I had it dumped at the top of the slope and then slid the rock down on steel rails and placed it,

  • Hugh Simpson
    5 years ago

    I will try again as this may not have gone through. Is there a Federal law against or North Carolina law against just taking out of a river as many stones and rocks you want? Thanks

  • Mike McGarvey
    5 years ago

    There are laws against removing rocks from the streams in Washington State.
    A friend of mine got busted for it a few years ago. Something to do with salmon spawning.

  • adammck75
    5 years ago

    It is against the law to remove rocks from any river or wild place, its considered the same as picking wild flowers. However, you can find rocks in lots of different places, personally I have a quarry about 30 miles from where i live and if you just ask you can normally just help yourself, well as much as your car can take without breaking the suspension. The difficulty is finding the rocks that you like and want for your specific project and sometimes they are only available from that one place.

  • BirkdaleSteve
    5 years ago

    Hugh, I used to live in NC (Charlotte region) and would take some rocks from near streams without giving a second thought; however, the amount of rock I was taking wasn't significant. If you are in the mountains of Western NC, there might be a conservationist law that prohibits it, but I have not heard of it. Perhaps if there are endangered species living in that particular river/stream?

    If you own the property, my thought is to do whatever the heck you want - just try not to destroy the stream's ecosystem or impede the flow of the stream too much.

  • wildprairierose
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The best and easiest way to get nice rocks in all sizes and colors is ask your friendly farmer! We are lucky to have plenty between the few farms in our family. I think most farmers would be happy to give a few off the piles in their field. Worth asking ☺

  • valcooper777
    5 years ago

    I love rocks too! Lakes , quarries, the side of the river. I will not take from state parks. I just feel like we are relocating nature. With all the abundance of rock and dirt it seems we should share..... I love the stories above.

  • valcooper777
    5 years ago

    I have payed for many too!

  • dottiecarrano
    5 years ago

    Anywhere you are you probably have a Gem and Mineral Club handy. Many members tend to be of the middle aged or well beyond and have hoarded rocks (especially yard rocks ..specimens interesting but too large for indoors).

    I get them when members are moving to retire or when their family is holding estate sales. Dealing with the family is quicker and cheaper because members moving will have a 30 min. story to go along with any rock you are interested in.

  • Mike McGarvey
    5 years ago

    A conglomeration of different rock types doesn't usually make for good design.


  • Mike McGarvey
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I just had 8 tons of rock delivered for a customer. At about $100 a ton delivered right where I want them and all from the same quarry saves me a lot of work. All I have to do is slide them around and place them so they look like they 'belong'.

    Here's a picture of about 5 tons. The other rocks are in another pile. We just had the wettest Halloween ever and it's too wet to move them around for awhile. I'm anxious to get to work!


  • samhain10 - 5a
    5 years ago

    Can't resist making a comment on this old thread, as I am anxiously awaiting the spring when I can get out and start my new rockery. I don't dare call it a rock garden after all the literature I have read lately on the difference between the two terms. I have a tendency to not "follow the recipe", and may end up being guilty of mixing stones as miketann of Seattle is rightfully suggesting may not make the best design. I will try to curb my enthusiasm for all the pretty pieces I have to work with, and strive for a more natural look. And the resource I have to work from is an ancient crumbling stone barn with a treasure trove of varied field stones just waiting for my use! There are rocks of all sizes, shapes, colors, and some with lichens and moss already. The trick will be getting them up the hill. It will have to fit on the dolly or forget it. :)

  • nwewouba
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    These are good http://www.amazon.com/

  • PRO
    Southwest Boulder & Stone
    3 years ago

    If you're in Southern California, visit one of our 6 rock yards to get an idea about what types of rocks are available from a natural stone supplier. If you're a rock lover or rockhound, you'll be in heaven! It's worth taking a look just to be inspired.

    A rock yard is similar to a quarry in that it has large bulk quantities of stone, but everything is organized in piles and bins that can be easily browsed through or strolled around (or take a golf cart if you don't feel like walking). It's open to the public and safer than a quarry site. There isn't a minimum purchase, so even if you only need a couple of small rocks it's worth checking out.

    Since rocks are stocked from a number of different quarries, the variety is impressive. But be warned - it's hard to go back once you see the possibilities and options at a rock yard!

    Best of luck and happy hunting to all in finding the best rocks for your landscaping and other projects!

  • Christine Melcher
    4 months ago

    I love rocks too. I found that there are tons in my yard when we put on an addition. I am always checking out neighbors rock when walking the dog and have to fight myself not to take a Neigbors glistening rock, I just love It. my internal compass makes sure that I don’t. I’m looking for a place I’m NE Ohio with cool rocks that are legal to hunt.

  • Ocotillo
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I just wanna know how this thread was started FIFTY YEARS AGO! Good job, Houzz ... you time traveled!

  • beesneeds
    4 months ago

    lol, I noticed that too... on the main listing it shows as January 12, 1970!

    It reads as 2001 at the top of the topic for me though. Houzz is confused.