I'm gonna move that rock
January 26, 2017 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I am doing my backyard in rocks. One of them is a monster!

I purchased a bunch of boulders, four of which I can move the way I had planned from the driveway (hand truck dolly). But one is much larger than I remember and there is no way I can move this monster, not even sure if I can pick it up with 3-4 other people.

OK, what ingenious method can I use to get this baby into its new digs?

I am going to guess it is 450 pounds? It has to travel about 200 feet, through a fence opening and over relatively even ground.

posted by silsurf to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The classic (by which I mean ancient) method is to get a number of round wood logs to act as rollers, and a large rod of whatever to be a lever. Get the rock up on the rollers by means of the lever, and then shove the log forward on the rollers, leap-frogging a roller in the back to the front when a roller is needed.

Good idea to have some wedges ready to keep the rollers from rolling away or the rock from sliding off the rollers, for when you take breaks.

Rollers should be not much wider than the stone, while the length (in the direction of movement) of the stone will dictate how many rollers you need-- but at least 4. Best if they can fit through the fence opening. You steer by angling the next roller that you place.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:27 AM on January 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have a book recommendation for you: Moving Heavy Things
posted by amtho at 11:30 AM on January 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

How To Move a Small Boulder by Yourself uses Sunburnt's method.
posted by backwards guitar at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Moving Large Boulders by Hand - another YouTube video that illustrates how to setup a lever.
posted by backwards guitar at 11:32 AM on January 26, 2017

I'd rent a machine.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:34 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Instead of logs maybe pvc piping. Should roll easier than a log
posted by tman99 at 11:43 AM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just now looked at the picture; since the stone doesn't have any particularly flat sides (just 3 flat-ish sides), I'd recommend keeping it on the pallet for the journey, if you can. Just remember that the center of the pallet is not the center of mass, and the center of mass must be between 2 rollers at all times. I would add a roller to my initial estimate, because whether you lead with the extra bit of pallet (left side in the photo) or trail with it (I'd recommend), you'll still have at least one more roller under the pallet that's not doing the hard support work but is still not positioned for easy removal.

On preview, what tman99 says: they don't have to be fat logs, but they have to be fat enough to keep the pallet off the ground, and to support the weight when distributed over as few as 2 rollers.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:47 AM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

Google something like "moving boulders with a tripod", you'll get the "Japanese Gardner" method.
posted by achrise at 12:02 PM on January 26, 2017

You can rent a wagon with pneumatic tires for not too much, and it would be easier to handle than the Ancient-Egypt log method. I only see a 1000-lb wagon on that site, but 2000-lb wagons exist.

You'd still need to get the rock onto the wagon, and a block and tackle on a sturdy frame on preview, the linked Japanese Gardener method would do that. I've lifted a ~500 lb granite boulder out of the ground that way.
posted by cardboard at 12:06 PM on January 26, 2017

P.S. If the ground is too soft for the wagon tires, use a couple of sheets of plywood (leapfrogging like you would do with the roller logs) under the wagon to spread out the weight.
posted by cardboard at 12:13 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

When I worked landscaping we would use what we called a rock dolly. Or a landscaping hand truck apparently.
I would assume you can rent one somewhere. Here is a video of a guy lifting a 900lb rock. Easiest if you have one person to help load it, but after that easy. Nursery ball carts, used to move large heavy tree root balls, work just as well. Those may be easier to find to rent.

Also helpful is a long heavy pry bar, like this, for moving the boulder onto the hand truck, or for fine-tuning once the boulder is in place.

Grab some short scrap lumber, bricks, or smaller stones, and use those as fulcrums. The heavy bar is the lever. Stick the bar under the boulder and you'll find you can move/lift/turn one end of it quite easily. Once you're off the hand truck, use those basic physics to slowly, but fairly easily push and rotate the rock over to your desired location. The bar is great for adjusting the angle of the rock in its final resting spot. This link sort of shows what I'm talking about, though with slightly different bars.
posted by Kabanos at 12:21 PM on January 26, 2017

Awesome response, I knew I came to the right place. I AM GOING TO MOVE THAT ROCK!
posted by silsurf at 12:32 PM on January 26, 2017 [8 favorites]

Good that it's not up a hill. Please report your method.
posted by mightshould at 7:14 PM on January 26, 2017

You might find a come-along (e.g like this) helpful. I moved a very heavy wood stove up a steep hill and into our yurt with a friend's come-along; rollers weren't needed though in retrospect they'd have been useful.
posted by anadem at 8:47 PM on January 26, 2017

Yep. Came to suggest a Come Along. Cheap and easy to use. You can move anything with one of those.
posted by Gotanda at 1:15 AM on January 27, 2017

Since it's already on a pallet, why not get some caster wheels from the hardware store, screw one to each corner and roll off to your destination with some helpers steadying the rock? Probably be a shaky ride but good enough for 200 feet over even ground.
posted by mikepop at 10:59 AM on January 27, 2017

So. I searched and searched and found one place in LOs Angeles that rents Landscaping Hand trucks, which I had decided was the only way I could possibly move it with minimal help. The dolly is 40" wide which meant that I would have had to remove my fence gate to get the dolly though, but I was committed.

On the way over to the place my friend contractor called and said he had a appliance dolly and thought we could GID with that. He is MUCH bigger than the rock, so I felt it would all work out.

meanwhile peerby which had a perfect looking hand truck pictured on the website. But as I learned with some of these new peer to peer type business, the photo was for reference only. They were very nice and really tried hard, the guy texted me images of hand trucks he could get me and the price was great. But it still seemed like why not wait for my contractor friend.

He came over and and with the help of his worker guy we "fairly" easily move that rock into place. and now my backyard rock garden is complete.

Rock in place
Rock Play Backyard

posted by silsurf at 9:42 AM on January 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older I got the Jimmy Legs   |   visual representation of subsets that comprise the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.