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
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 23:07
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 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
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 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? Commented Jul 17, 2019 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... Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 23:37

2 Answers 2


You have several options, and they depend on your specific scenario, capabilities, free time, resources and budget.

While dealing with this situation on my property I choose to utilize my yard waste and recycle cans and load them up weekly with the debris and ruined soil. This was very time consuming and took a lot of physical labor, but it was relatively cheap.

You can hire someone to haul the trash away (and dig it up).

You can dig up the waste, separate from the soil, and dispose of it however you can.

You could burn it.

There is no real easy solution to your problem, if you have a large budget the ideal solution is to call someone to deal with it. The dirt that surrounds the trash could become stagnant and develop mold, so you may be better off getting rid of everything in that area and replacing it with top soil, which can be delivered to your home in bulk by the cubic yard.

I would expect to pay $300 to have the refuse hauled away and another $200 for 10 yd.³ of good soil.


I feel your pain. My backyard is not very pleasant to walk on barefooted. I recently discovered there is some left over construction under my lawn from past renovation. It is a big enough area and I have no idea how deep, that I am at a loss on what to do. I was thinking just to cover it with inches of fresh soil and seed. Healthy grass could grow through too. Fortunately I don't have a weed problem. It's a bummer to be sure.

  • This does not really answer the question. If you have a different question, you can ask it by clicking Ask Question. To get notified when this question gets new answers, you can follow this question. Once you have enough reputation, you can also add a bounty to draw more attention to this question.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 20:33
  • Please provide additional details in your answer. As it's currently written, it's hard to understand your solution.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 4:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.