I recently purchased a house on a 0.25 acre (0.1 hectare, ~11,000 sqft) lot that in the past was known as "the party house." This name became more clear to me today while raking leaves I found large quantities of broken shards of glass throughout the lawn, presents no doubt left behind by previous tenants and their guests.

My goal is to make make my yard free of glass, such that my family and guests can walk around barefoot without fearing cutting our soles to shreds.

Picking the glass up is not realistic given the size of the yard, the amount of glass (everywhere), and that I know I will miss many pieces. Brown, green, and clear glass blend expertly into the moist, lush lawns found in the Pacific Northwest.

I was thinking of dumping clean fill and reseeding or alternatively placing down sod. My concern would be raising the grade or not adding enough material to cover the glass. Digging out the top few inches of topsoil could counter this, though I expect this would be starting to get pricey.

I am wondering if my approach is the best approach or if there are perhaps other methods I can try that I haven't yet considered?

  • In France, if not pointed out by the previous owner before the sale, such a thing could fall under the "vice caché"-principle, a hidden fault. In that case he would need to compensate you for cleaning or whatever the best methods will. IANAL!
    – Patrick B.
    Jan 3 '15 at 7:38
  • 2
    In parts of Canada concealed defects are grounds for having the vendor pay as well. Speak to your realtor and/or lawyer.
    – kevinskio
    Jan 3 '15 at 15:13
  • I'll check with my lawyer to see if having the vendor pay for the work is a possible scenario. I'm still wondering if I'm on track solution-wise.
    – shufler
    Jan 3 '15 at 18:47
  • Got frost? That may move buried glass chunks towards the surface even if you do cover with several inches of soil. Sep 30 '15 at 23:37
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    Unfortunately the best answer might be to have a company come in with a screening machine to screen the top 6-12" of soil down to 1/4" or so. Or remove 6-12" and bring in new soil. Assuming you do the whole 11,000 square feet, you're looking at between 200 and 400 yards or so of soil. It won't be cheap, but as other's have pointed out the glass will migrate to the surface if you cover it up.
    – That Idiot
    Oct 1 '15 at 16:03

There isn't an easy answer - you need to rake off all areas, scraping up as much glass as possible, probably more than once, and then dispose of it. If you try dumping topsoil or laying new sod, those glass shards will inevitably work their way back up to the top, the same way that small pebbles do, which are usually at their most obvious after winter on the surface of the soil. It would be great if you could engage a crew to do the work and have it paid for by the vendor.

  • Ahh yes. Good 'ol sedementation. Good point.
    – shufler
    Jan 5 '15 at 17:58

We also bought a "party house" and every summer I go around with several buckets cleaning up metal, glass, and rocks. It's hot and hard work. I have huge drums full of glass to take to the landfill. I like to mow grass short then try and clean a small area at a time. I've been cleaning it for over years but it is getting better. The hugest issue isn't the party house but old farmers. Around here the farmers dig huge holes and load all the glass and trash in the hole then bury it wr were digging up a rock that was hitting our lawnmower and unearthed a huge pile of glass. No easy answer but patience unless you have a lot of money.

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