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momma_s

broken glass in my dirt

momma_s
12 years ago

Since nothing but weeds grows in the totally shaded back lot of our yard, we've decided to turn it into a play area and also grow some shade happy perennials there. I was pulling weeds this morning when I found several pieces of broken glass... So what do we do now? How can we make it a kid friendly place without worrying about shards of glass we can't see? Any advice is greatly appreciated...

Comments (51)

  • bugbite
    12 years ago

    I find small broken glass regularly in my beds(at least 3-4 times a year). I guess you could add new soil to the play area to top it off. Or find some way to sift it. You will find many items at Lowes/HD you could use, like metal lathe,etc. Good Luck

  • jonhughes
    12 years ago

    Ok ... That is the last time I drink when replying to posts.
    I'm sorry to get your hopes up Momma, there is no such thing...I was just teasing you ;-)

    But if I were in your shoes, I honestly don't know what I would do... If it were simply sitting on hardened soil,a simple sweep or vacuum job would suffice, but mixed into the soil... I don't see any way of making it kid safe.... With a lot of labor you could sift out the majority,but it would never get out the slivers..... no... the only way I could think of would be my initial invention, the glass magnet... but that would be akin to a soup sandwich...

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  • jonas302
    12 years ago

    Your perenials are going to be happier in multch any ways so maybe a good over of woodchips, rock, whatever your perfered multch might be and will help keep the weeds down

  • borderbarb
    12 years ago

    Depending on the size of the area affected, you might cover entire area with thick mulch and then over time, dig and sift section by section to get rid of the glass. A lot of work. Also, are you sure that the entire area has glass shards?

  • annpat
    12 years ago

    I have glass problems in a couple of places in my yard. Near the front foundation I put cardboard down and covered it with pine needles. I replace the pine needles every year. I wouldn't be comfortable with anyone walking barefoot there. In another area, I replace both the cardboard and the woodchip cover annually. Those are my paths and I do walk barefoot there.

    b.barb's sifting idea sounds interesting to me. I spent my whole life barefoot on this property; I know how upsetting glass in the soil is. It really ruins the fun. I found a very fine, very sharp metal object with a plastic end on it the other Night!! when I was planting in a raised bed. I saw a glint from the light on my hat and was stunned and upset to pick up the lethal looking needle-thing. I was two minutes from breaking up soil with my bare hands. It probably came in with feedstock I brought home from the Brewer dump.

  • tomtuxman
    12 years ago

    I find broken glass in my planting beds so often I'm tempted to rename my property The Glass Farm. Turns out former owners liked to party and got rowdy now and then. Broken beer bottles, etc.

    When I was preparing a new rose bed a few years back I found an entire intact Carlsberg beer bottle about 8 inches down. I should have saved the darn thing.

    I just stay extremely vigilent when digging and planting. Even after deep tilling and much sifting of my vegetable bed, I still find glass that comes to the surface after frost heaves.

  • seamommy
    12 years ago

    Annpat, your story of planting at night reminds me of the night I was walking barefooted in my yard and saw something shiny in my grass. I was talking on the phone to my sister and telling her what was growing and blooming and what I had planted that day. Then I saw the shiny thing and at first thought it was a fresh pile of dog poop. I got upset because it was right in front of the flower bed I was looking at and I almost stepped in the middle of it. But then it moved and I realized it was a couple of copperheads who were mating in the romantic April moonlight. I was really glad I didn't step in it then.

    Last summer I was standing on the front porch watering the flowers and a stinkin little scorpion ran up and stung me on the foot. Another time I was digging out by the fence and a scorpion stung me on the finger. Last week I was pulling weeds (and wearing gloves) and some kind of little snake (non-poisonous apparently) bit me on the wrist just above my glove. I never saw it but I felt it and was surprised to see that I was bleeding. I thought it was just a scratch from a dead branch or something, but when I got cleaned up I could see it was definitely a snake bite. It never did anything but itch, so I didn't worry about it too much. I don't let my grandson walk out in the yard without shoes on anymore though.

  • lazy_gardens
    12 years ago

    I'm easy-going about this sort of thing because I grew up in a town where every farm house had its own private dump, and scavenging the old mine dumps was considered fun.

    Make sure the kids have their tetanus shots up to date, teach them some basic first aid, and pick up all the glass you see as you are working there.

  • cheapheap
    12 years ago

    I would just try to raise the level of the play area a few inches with new clean material. Tilling and then sifting as suggested is also not that hard - I think it is fun sometimes. But, before I did that I would dig a few more test holes to see if the glass was all over.

    How long has the glass been there? - It could just be me getting tougher, but I think that shards of glass get dulled over time - maybe some type of chemical weathering.

    Best of luck!

  • tomtuxman
    12 years ago

    Years and years ago many people either buried trash or burned trash in their back yards, including glass items, broken or not. That is another source of glass in the ground.
    Sometimes a load of topsoil or compost brought in from an unreliable source (or even your own municipal source) will contain all manner of glass and metal bits. I found rubber bands in bagged potting soil from a national reputable brand.
    Glass shards do not get duller with time -- I've had the cuts to prove it. And I get a tetanus booster every few years as a result just to be safe rather than sorry.

  • annpat
    12 years ago

    My mother has a very literal (and wealthy--he won 6 million bucks playing Megabucks) handyman. When her house was built, my stepfather had the topsoil removed, pre-construction, and set aside. Years later I asked my mother's handyman to spread the mountain of soil on her anemic front lawn. When I got home, I was shocked to see the front lawn covered with pieces of broken glass. He spread the soil, despite seeing that it was full of glass. It must have been the contents of a bottle dump or something.

    Another time, I asked him if he would cut down some trees that I would mark with a red ribbon. I marked all the trees with a red satin ribbon. He cut all those trees down and then he found, at the far end of my mother's land, 6 acres from all the other trees, a pretty birch tree with a piece of plastic surveyers' ribbon on it. I came home to find a pile of birch logs.

    The very first thing that he bought with his new millions was some huge, six-foot wide, walk behind mower, whose maiden voyage was at our house. I came home to find my five foot Enkianthus mowed into chips.

  • momma_s
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Whoa! I knew I should've checked in earlier this week...

    Jonhughes~ Thanks for the laughs! You really almost had me!

    I'm not sure how long the glass has been here since we've only lived here for two years, but the section I've found it in is 15ft wide (and maybe 7ft wide). Throughout the bed, but mostly on the right side (play area will be on the left).

    I don't have the time or patience to hand sift the dirt, so it sounds like the best thing to do to protect the kids is till and mulch heavily. I wonder if the ground cover, Mazus Reptans, wound work though...

    Thanks for the input everyone.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Mazus Reptans

  • west_texas_peg
    12 years ago

    Our yard is one where the trash was burned from 1920 to 1960's. I recall as a kid that I had the task of burning the trash in a 55 gallon barrel in the alley. I hated that job! My sisters were much younger and by the time I married and they inherited the trash job; burning was no longer allowed and city provided trash pick up.

    I find lots of glass/metal in my soil; have had nasty cuts from digging planting holes with my hands. So I have resorted to building raised beds and lasagna beds that I know do not contain metal or glass.

  • w2wade
    9 years ago

    Does the glass magnet exist ? If so, I can really use it. Please respond with the manufacturer, type and model number.

    Thanks in advance !

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    w2wade, you've had your leg pulled clean off. There is no such thing. :-]

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    9 years ago

    Hithere Wade. Welcome to Gardenweb!

  • wahoo2012
    9 years ago

    House fire 10/28, blog 11/02, nimcraft.wordpress.com....folks came to remove debris, but did not in an environmental fashion..spread broken glass, misc crap from house, violating an acre of ground...too bad glass magnet not a real thing...what I'm doing after having tried "screening"...
    1) scrape ground to base using snow shovel, yes even available in Texas
    2) scoop glass, dirt mixture to large holed colander, shake to remove big stuff, over colander #2 w/ smaller holes
    3) shake #2 colander over a bucket to separate clean dirt from "aggregates"
    4) remaining aggregates to soak in #3 colander partially immersed in a bucket of water to further reclaim dirt from aggregate pile
    5) scoop out cleansed aggregate to dry in #4 colander for use later when needed to mix cement..
    Labor intensive but you'll have clean soil. !

  • elisa_z5
    9 years ago

    Momma -- my daughter's back yard (in Jersey City) has lots of glass in it, and when we had it tested, it also has too high a lead count for kids to play in or a pregnant woman to work in. So laying down new purchased sod over the affected soil is the answer for her. Don't know if your glass came with any other stuff, like pottery, that might raise heavy metal levels -- maybe all you've got is glass, but the sod idea could work for your situation too.

    Tom -- you can have a tetanus titre test instead of all those shots. Probably cheaper in the long run. I had mine done last year, and since I have a titre and haven't had a shot in many many years, I'm guaranteed life immunity. My great grandfather died of the disease, so I hear you on prevention.

  • elisa_z5
    9 years ago

    I found the info on the glass magnet, in case anyone is interested.
    Hope the link works.

    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:280096}}

  • annpat
    9 years ago

    OH! THAT was upsetting!! I can't believe you did that, elisa!!!

  • elisa_z5
    9 years ago

    Tee hee.
    Glad you were still around annpat --I saw later just how old this thread was.
    Long live the crusade!

  • rott
    9 years ago

    ..
    Anybody know anything about rock tumblers?

    Regarding the glass in the dirt, could one shovel the suspect dirt into a cement mixer, add water to make it a slurry and, just let the cement mixer act as a big rock tumbler and ware the glass smooth? Empty contents and repeat on the next patch of dirt?

    Just wonderin'
    ..

  • flatout13
    9 years ago

    The house next to us was destroyed by a glass explosion yesterday and a lot of glass came over the fence and is in/on a large area of my lawn - how is the best way to get rid of it. Are there professionals who do this, I have to be extra careful to get rid of every last bit because of grandchildren and dogs. Help and advice needed please...!!

  • rosiew
    9 years ago

    flatout,

    Sorry to read about the damage. Thank the Lord no one was struck by the flying glass. It could be that the insurer of the house next to you would be responsible for cleanup.

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    I agree, the neighbor is responsible for that, and/or their insurance co. What you need to do is make sure they are all aware of the problem and that you are expecting them to take care of it.

    I'm thinking a walkthrough first to pick up larger pieces, and maybe a very strong leaf vacuum to suck up smaller bits after that. I'd recommend not walking on it any more than absolutely necessary in the meantime so you don't push it down into the soil.

    Eventually any bits that are missed will sink down into the soil and disappear. Even after the cleanup you might want to make that area of the yard a no-bare-feet zone for the summer.

  • rosiew
    9 years ago

    tox and flatout, not at all sure about the responsibility issue. flatout is in the UK, so will have to find out about it there.

    I had a neighbors tree drop an enormous branch into my yard. It was over 20' long, large diameter. By the time I had a chance to ask him about it, he said his attorney had told him it wasn't his liability! Being that they were total jerks, I had a friend cut it into shorter than firewood lengths for me instead of arguing. Arrgghh.

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    I did not notice flatout was from the UK, but an exploding house does seem to be a different scenario from a tree routinely shedding a limb.

  • flora_uk
    9 years ago

    Good grief, flatout13. Are you in Callander where that poor chap is in hospital? (I am assuming the 'glass' explosion is a typo for 'gas' explosion.) Can't really help with clearing the glass apart from vigilance and a dustpan and brush but sorry to hear your plight. I'd certainly check your house insurance and contact the gas supplier too for advice. Hope your neighbour's OK.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Was this you??

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    Holy mackerel!

  • maurice53
    8 years ago

    First of all how hard would it be to use four digits in the year for the date on each post? It took me too long to figure out how old this thread is...

    My house sits on about 0.62 acre. The back yard is about 2/3 of this. There are pieces of glass everywhere in the back yard dirt. The entire yard is desert dirt- Arizona.They vary in size but are usually about inch to 2 inch in general size which leads me to believe that someone intentionally broke glass maybe with a hammer and distributed it around the yard. There are also pennies, nickels and dimes spread around embedded in the dirt-mostly pennies.
    I have googled to find an explanation for this when I came across this forum but have not found anything else to explain this. It is driving me crazy to understand why anyone would do this. I am thinking this is some kind of ritual to keep spirits in the ground and money to spend in the afterlife. Sounds crazy but who knows...

  • toxcrusadr
    8 years ago

    I've never heard of anything like this. The usual explanation (look up Occam's Razor) is that it's just demolition debris.

    Is your lot flat or hilly? Does it seem like fill was added in the past? Fill dirt can have all sorts of debris in it.

    How old is your house? Is it the first and only house on the lot?

    I would not mind having a crop of money in my backyard there for the picking. :-]

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    8 years ago

    "First of all how hard would it be to use four digits in the year for the date on each post? It took me too long to figure out how old this thread is... " What were the options you considered?

    Though I say that in jest, my deepest sympathy for anyone with a broken glass problem. Honestly, I might try to shop-vac that out of the lawn. One could bury the whole area under new 'dirt' and putting new sod/seed.

    Maurice, maybe a rowdy brothel was once there? How old are the coins? Is it 'flat' glass like from windows or curved pieces from bottles/jars?

  • maurice53
    8 years ago

    My lot is flat. The house was built in 1977. I believe it was the only house on the lot. It's hard to say if fill dirt was used. Why would fill dirt have glass and loose change? There is a lot of rock in the dirt as well- everything from small pebbles to fist size and even larger but those were placed for desert landscaping.
    It is very hard to read dates on the very tarnished and dirt encrusted coins but I believe i can make out 1994 and 1976. The glass is a mix of flat and curved.
    Most of the glass is embedded in the dirt at just about the surface and below the surface as well. i do not think a shop vac is an option.
    i don't have grass. This is Arizona. All desert dirt. Very little grass here except for golf courses.
    I am still thinking there is some kind of ritual involved here, religious or otherwise.
    Edit: If I was to use new dirt to cover the old It would have to be of a depth that would not erode and expose the old. It seems like a major and costly undertaking.

    This post was edited by maurice53 on Wed, Nov 27, 13 at 21:23

  • maurice53
    8 years ago

    Where do I set email notifications to new posts on this thread?

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    8 years ago

    Right under where you type a reply, you can turn it on/off.

    Hope someone has some insight and a workable solution for you!

  • seysonn
    8 years ago

    Just sift/screen the top several inches through 1/8" wire mesh.

  • toxcrusadr
    8 years ago

    Maurice, do you have neighbors you're acqainted with? Just wondering if they might have any insights into this weird situation.

  • maurice53
    8 years ago

    Neighbors I am acquainted with? yes, friendly with, sometimes. I will have to wait for the right time to ask about it.

  • Rebecca Davenport
    6 years ago

    You devil jonhuges!!!! I only read the first post and thought there really was a glass magnet contraption. I thought long and hard about how it could ever possibly work, and googled the crap out of it, only to find your other post telling that you were just drinking and joking lol!!!!

  • Nathan McConnell
    5 years ago

    This looks like the best way to get any unwanted debris. I haven't tried it yet but am saving up for one.

    http://www.equiteemfg.com/combo-motorized-shaken-rake-and-manual-shaken-rake/

  • Daniel Central IN, Zone 6a
    5 years ago

    So I guess to me several pieces of broken glass isn't necessarily a lot. I don't know that I would be terribly alarmed. I've found glass in the garden and yard in every house I've lived in. I've just taught the little kids that if the find it they get a grown up. So far it's working, every child is different but it's worked for ours. On the other hand if by "several pieces" you mean huge half glass bottles sticking inches out of the ground, or every time you turn up a shovel full of dirt it's half glass...then I would be alarmed. Good luck with your project. And hey I don't think you could go wrong with that mulch idea if your still concerned. Let us know if you come across that glass magnet.

  • toxcrusadr
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    The motorized shake-and-rake is an idea. I also thought of mechanized means such as: a rotating drum sifter, or a shaker table. This kind of eqpt. is used at quarries to sort rock by size, and also at composting operations to sift the product.

    Imagine a hollow drum (cylinder) laying on its side at a slight angle. The outside is mesh screen of whatever size you choose. It turns via an electric motor. Shovel stuff in one side, the small material falls through the drum, and the larger reject stuff comes out the other end of the drum.

    If you go to You Tube and search "compost sifter" you'll see all kinds of DIY gadgets.

    One could build, or perhaps find, a small scale machine like this. Now for a big yard it might take a long time to do this by hand. Maybe you're OK with doing a few square yards at a time. Another alternative would be to hire someone to bring in industrial scale eqpt. and a Bobcat to scrape up the soil, load it into the sifter, and re-deposit the sifted soil. Landscaping contractors might be a place to start looking for someone who could do it. All of them might not be familiar, but you might find someone who knows how to do it and has done it before.

    Note, there is no sifter that will take out the tiniest shards. The smaller you make the screen, the more soil you'll lose to the reject pile. So you'll want to experiment and see what size screen is best. Hardware cloth (wire mesh) can be bought at hardware stores in sizes like 1/4" and 3/8". If I was making a drum sifter I'd use something like that. For a stronger material (soil is heavy after all) another option is 'expanded metal' which is sheet metal with holes in it. You might find it at a welding/metal supply shop.

  • Rachel Salinas
    2 years ago

    We have also been finding glass in our dirt and mulch. We just bought our house and we are cleaning up the back yard. The old owners didn’t refresh or clean their mulch in years so most of it is non existent. However, as we are cleaning we have found pieces 2-3 inches and still sharp. We also find tiny little pieces. Could the past mulch have been contaminated with glass?

  • armoured
    2 years ago

    It is possible some was in the mulch, or that it was in the ground and worked it's way up, if it was lower down. Or just broken glasses or bottles that were not cleaned up. As in this thread, not an entirely uncommon thing.

  • toxcrusadr
    2 years ago

    I saw a video the other day exploring the effects of different metals added to glass. Turns out there are certain metals you can add that will actually make glass be attracted to a magnet. Most of them leave the glass colored, but there is at least one that makes clear glass that will stick to a magnet. I don't think we're going to switch to it just to make yard cleanup easier in the future, but it's an interesting concept.

  • Nick Guidi
    last year

    Well, this is probable a bit late but - laying down some kind of soil fabric would be best, then adding mulch or topsoil over that

  • Tina L Nichols
    last year

    I find glass in dirt, hobby, and clean it up..then I put it a container to display.


  • Angela Searcy
    29 days ago

    What company makes a larger commercial size glass magnet to clear my land that's full of broken glass?

  • toxcrusadr
    28 days ago

    Welcome Angela, you're the next in a line of people who read only the first comment and didn't figure out that there is no such thing as a glass magnet. Sorry!

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    27 days ago

    Now a classic ruse. Like sending someone to get their blinker fluid checked.