I have dirt from an old burn pile that I need disposed of. I want to refill the area with fresh soil so I can plant grass seed. The dirt I want removed has wood chips, nails, and rocks.

Does anyone have recommendations? I don't think the transfer station will take it, but I'm looking for some kind of public service that's cheap or free. I don't know many farm owners, and don't want to ask about dumping on their land.


  • Why exactly do you think the pile has to be disposed of? What contaminants are you worried about? Mar 31, 2018 at 3:29
  • @GrahamChiu I just want healthy soil is all. It was a burn pit and it has metal in it, in addition to other things like random wood chips and rocks (it was surrounded by large rocks which broke over the years). I'd like to just dig 2-3 inches down and back fill it with just topsoil.
    – hack3rfx
    Mar 31, 2018 at 3:45
  • 1
    All dirt is from rocks which have weathered in time, or were worn down by glacial movement. Wood chips will degrade and it's common for some to use them as a mulch. Iron will add iron to the soil. Why don't you just remove the larger rocks and large metal bits and then supplement with some more topsoil if you need it? Mar 31, 2018 at 3:53
  • @GrahamChiu Your points are all very valid. I just fear that it will be unattractive compared to the rest of my yard. I guess I just figured it would be easier to dispose of the top layer I have now, and replace it with clean soil. Around the fire pit "hole" is a mound of this "nasty" soil. Even if I use it to fill the hole, I don't know that I'll have room left over to lay another "clean" layer of dirt down.
    – hack3rfx
    Mar 31, 2018 at 3:56

1 Answer 1


You are asking for a recommendation so I will answer this with what I would do.

First thing to try, calling your local trash hauler or your county or whoever regulates trash hauling services and asking them what materials they would take in your regular trash and what is recyclable.

Then I would dig a hole deep enough to bury the material deeply enough that it will not be a future issue. Usually 20cm is plenty for a lawn area. If instead you might be using the area for gardening I would put it down 40-60cm so it would not be disturbed again.

As you are digging up and moving the material sift through it to remove the rusty metals and pieces of glass and put those in recycling or in your household trash. Small pieces of rock are not a problem buried down deeply enough for either grass or garden vegetables.

Ashes from burning are not horrible for a garden if it was just pieces of wood and other organic materials that were burned there. You can mix some of this with your topsoil as you are filling the hole back in.

If you suspect the soil is contaminated with oil or other things you do not want at all then you are looking at either getting rid of it in your trash or having to pay someone to take it. This is not a fun situation to be in when you do not know what is in there.

Contaminated wastes in our area require special handling and the county has a scheduled drop off date for various materials so that would be something you could ask the local waste officials.

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