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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?

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  • 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, 2015 at 7:38
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    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, 2015 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, 2015 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, 2015 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, 2015 at 16:03

4 Answers 4

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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.

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  • Ahh yes. Good 'ol sedementation. Good point.
    – shufler
    Jan 5, 2015 at 17:58
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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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This may be overkill but what about renting a tiller, tilling the ground, then scooping it up and then putting it through a screening process to separate the glass from the dirt and then throwing away or recycling the glass? It’s a lot of work, but probably the best way to get rid of it. I have the same problem and I’m considering this route.

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Be careful what you wish for. I noticed my neighbor remodeling their back yard and the contractor was loading a lot of dirt in a trailer using a skid steer that had a scoop/bucket on front. I asked the Home Depot parking lot labor crew leader what he was going to do with the dirt and he said take it to the dump. I needed a lot of dirt in my back yard to raise the level along my back fence (rear neighbor's lot is 18" higher than mine). So, I told the crew leader he could dump a few loads of dirt over my fence. I placed a 4x8 sheet of plywood against the fence so the dirt would not pile too deep against the fence. He dumped about 4 loads from the skid steer. But then I noticed my neighbor had also treated their backyard like the party houses mentioned above. I stopped the crew leader dumping any more dirt from my neighbor. For years since that event, I've been sorting everything from 2" size broken bottle pieces to barely visible shards of glass (the type that get stuck under the skin), old pull tabs, plastic and metal pieces, and ceramics from broken posts. All that dirt sits in a menacing pile I can't spread because it will only cause an injury hazard if I do. So, I could pay a contractor to remove the pile, but I've decided to use it as a base for a shed I'll build with a cement floor. Not what I planned in the beginning but the only solution I've found to contain the slivered glass that will haunt this property forever.

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