I recently bought a new row home with what I thought was an adorable back yard. I started digging a shallow hole to plant a tree and noticed that about a half inch to about a foot down is where the previous owner buried some garbage (literal trash bags with styrofoam containers, soda cans, hair ties, etc.) and construction debris (so far it just looks like bricks, tile, glass, and plastic mini blinds).

The yard itself is 10' x 10' - I've started digging it all up myself, but I'm really not sure what my plan is. I found a brick patio on the bottom, so it seems as if they literally through the dirt on top of all of this junk. I keep finding empty bags of Miracle-Gro, so I'm assuming as much.

Has anyone ever dealt with anything like this before? I'm not sure what steps I should take - does it make sense to dig the whole thing up, rent a dumpster to throw the garbage and dirt away and start over? Do landscapers do this sort of work (and is it super expensive)?

  • Where do you live? Are your neighbors experiencing the same thing? – Jurp Jul 17 '19 at 23:07
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    It sounds as if at one time there was a patio, then somebody wanted to raise the level so they dumped some trash and put some topsoil over it. You really need to get rid of the trash and the old patio. The dirt is probably OK if you can pile it on half of the plot while you clean the other half. I had the same thing with my house in the UK except the builders had buried plastic sheets, bricks, and a truck load of sand that was left over when they finished 20 or 30 houses on the site. A neighbour found a stash of about 100 glass milk bottles under his lawn that wasn't growing properly! – alephzero Jul 17 '19 at 23:14
  • The problem with paying somebody to do this type of job is that you have no idea how much work is involved until you actually do it. Who knows what you might find under that old patio, for example! – alephzero Jul 17 '19 at 23:17
  • @jurp I live in Philadelphia. My neighbors are renting, so I'm not sure they are doing much digging on the property. One of my neighbors did just tell my husband that around the time he moved in (about a year before we bought it) that the backyard was full of crap from the remodel. So I'm guessing this was more of a cut-corners type of solution so that they didn't have to pay for a dumpster? – Jen Pirrone Jul 17 '19 at 23:35
  • @alephzero that's a good point! Also sorry you had to go through this as well. It's crazy what people will do to save a few bucks. I'm wondering if now it's time to invest in a better tool than just a shovel... – Jen Pirrone Jul 17 '19 at 23:37

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