I'm slowly converting my tiny suburban back area into a garden.
Progress is slowed because of a chronic problem of landscapers
dumping unused overburden on it.
I understand why, because our local landfill charges $200 a yard
to dump the stuff. (Ask Me How I Know This.)
I shovel and vacuum the dirt up off the clay, but a month later,
I'm gifted with another half-a-yard of fill dirt, neatly
distributed over the surface and pushed into the crawlspace under
Every week for the last decade, I've filled my garbage can
full of this soil but the amount in the back yard is a constant,
not a variable. The next larger trash can would cost me an
additional $30 a month, which I don't have to spare.
I have a Freecycle ad offering this clean fill but I have
How would you solve this problem?
On 8/2/12 7:59 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
If you really own the property, the dumping you describe is most likely
illegal. You need to identify the source accurately, taking photos or
even a video. Then file a police complaint, not only for dumping but
also for trespassing. You might also consider a civil lawsuit against
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
I don't understand.
If I give money to a lawyer, how would that limit the amount of
extra soil left on my property? I know very little about the
law, but I've never seen a lawyer knowingly use a shovel
in a moral and honest manner.
You do understand that the three individuals involved all know
where I live, yes? The police in my area are busy dealing with
murder, home invasions, arson, robbery (serious stuff).
As painful as this nuisance is, I'm not interested in being
the victim of a crime that the police would find noteworthy.
On 8/2/2012 3:54 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Don't know where you live but there are other authorities besides
police. Violation of county codes here can result in a fine by a county
inspector for example.
Also here, a small civil suit can be brought before a magistrate without
using a lawyer. Years ago I successfully sued the Ford motor company
for a few thousand dollars in repairs they wanted me to do.
First you should identify who is doing it and get proof. I'd set up
something like a trail camera that functions in low light.
On 8/2/12 12:54 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Even if the police do nothing, you should still file a criminal
complaint. You need a copy of the complaint to sue those who are
dumping on your property.
You can sue in small claims court using the copy of the complaint as
part of the evidence. You can also hire an attorney and sue for an
amount greater than the small claims limit, not only for actual damages
(the cost of removing the dumped dirt) but also for your costs (the
attorney's fees), for punitive damages, and for exemplary damages.
No, I do not believe in suing at the drop of a hat. In my 70+ years, I
have been a plaintiff only once and been sued only once. However,
repeated offenses should be punished. If the police will not do
anything, a good, solid lawsuit is a great punishment against wrong-doers.
Also, having filed a complaint with the police and having good evidence
(e.g., photos, videos) might indeed prompt a criminal prosecution,
especially if you are not the only victim.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
You describe what is clearly a legal problem but you refuse to consider
legal remedies. You know who is doing it but won't take any action against
them. What are we to make of this? I begin to suspect trolling for
This has nothing to do with gardening. Try rec.free.legal.advice or
A contractor doesn't just find extra soil on his truck.
He buys it at a yard. Not where I live anyway.
I don't know where you are but I don't think contractors get
free soil anywhere. Even if they got free soil it's not free
to put it in your yard.
But you're telling a story about a problem you have and claim
to want useful answers.
Now you are agreeing that your story doesn't make sense...
Beats me what's going on.
It becomes 'extra' when the job is complete and there is no
requirement for the remainder. It is now a very expensive
liability. The contractor is not about to load it on his
truck and find a safe, legal, moral way to dispose of it if
he can merely litter a neighbor's lot with it. It's just
faster and cheaper to litter, especially at > $200 a yard to
Let's do some arithmetic. Half a yard of soil to dispose on
a neighbor's unimproved lot:
A quarter hour of labor to break on to the property, wheel the
soil in, distribute it evenly: About 5 bucks.
Done properly, it is more expensive.
An hour of labor: $20
10 miles of gas: $4
Entrance fee to a proper disposal site: $100
I figure $124 is more than $5 even ignoring the 'opportunity
cost' of tying up a laborer to move the soil to the proper
Yes. Here are more examples:
* Tell me how to make it *more* expensive to dump this stuff
on my lot than to dispose of it properly (without endangering
me or my family).
* Tell me who will vacuum this stuff up for free and use it for
some noble purpose for the benefit of mankind, monthly.
* Tell me how to cheaply convert this stuff into a valuable commodity
that I can sell for huge bucks on eBay. :)
Yes. While you're at it, here are some other true things
that make no sense:
* Why are people buying photovoltaics at more than say 4c per
peak watt when the buyback period is much longer than the
owner's remaining life expectancy?
* Why are people burning diesel to convert corn into alcohol
that causes car mileage to decrease?
* Why am I expected to drive my car to do practically *anything*.
* Why are we so focused on politics when there
is not a shred of evidence it makes any difference?
There are lots of things like that. :)
Check under your ground cover some time.
The castoff chunks of concrete debris are courtesy of your
local building contractor. Please thank them for their
valuable contribution to your savings. :)
If a contractor buys soil at a yard, they can return any unused
soil for refund.
If you show up with some junk from your yard, they are not going
to take it.
How very unhelpful.
Burying building materials on a new home site is not
done where I live.
Sounds like you're in the SouthWest somewhere.
Can't say what your laws or practices are.
Also don't know how to enrich your "soil", but
mulch is a cover meant to keep down weeds.
I can assure you there are no building materials buried
anywhere on my property. I've been here long enough to know.
I've dug just about everywhere on the property in over 30 years.
The guy I'll call Dale was. He and his team did extensive hardscape
work. I supplied him with a requirements sheet that specified
that the grade at the finish of the project was to be no higher
than the grade at the start of the project. I reinforced this
verbally a couple times during the project.
Dale is not a real good listener.
Dale was assisted by a guy I will call Richie, who
stared at me and said "I know where to put extra dirt."
when I mentioned how disappointed I was that my
requirement for an 'existing grade' finish was being
The third guy who I will call Martin did some work for a
neighbor over the back fence this week.
I had my yard all vacuumed up, with nothing but the cracked
adobe showing, ready for me to scoop it out and replace with
A couple days after Martin started my neighbor's project, my
back yard was under half an inch of powdery gravel once more.
I sighed heavily and began shoveling and vacuuming, again.
I find it interesting that these donations coincide with
landscaper visits (to neighboring properties) to a high degree.
I continue to hope that one of my new friends on rec.gardens
will be willing to talk about how they:
* Converted dusty gravel into a nutritious mulch :)
* Traded dusty gravel to a pal that needed road base for a paver
* Found that the county would visit and pull up clean fill dirt as a
donation on a monthly basis
* Or anything that would allow me to actually work on my garden
without having all my time wasted cleaning up someone else's mess :)
I'm remediating the adobe. I notice that my shovel is
more effective in scooping it up for disposal and remediation
if there is no gravel on top of it. If I expose the adobe,
it tends to dry, which really lowers the humidity in the house, too.
Is the gravel in your area particularly soft? :)
What was I supposed to do, show up with a gun? :)
I did what I could. I told them what I wanted in printed
and spoken instructions.
I kept shoveling the overburden out and when the contractor
had the temerity to ask for a recommendation, I was very silent
on the subject. I'm a very enthusiastic supporter
of those few businesspeople that just 'do their jobs' and
often offer recommendations.
Not this time.
A low wall is unlikely to provide much of a barrier when
a 6' fence proved ineffective.
I'm trying to 'garden'. My first step is to improve the soil
from it's current deplorable state. I have begun removing
and disposing of the extra clay that was added by my contractor
and I'm slowly digging past the original clay and adding
mulch. After I have soil, I hope to learn more here about
the kinds of solutions you all have developed to problems I'm
likely to encounter.
My local landfill values the overburden so highly that they
will accept nothing less than $200 a yard to allow me to
dump it on their lot. (It is not exactly gold, Dan.)
My smiley indicates that I was joshing about the possibility
of changing rock into a material likely to provide fertilizer,
temperature moderation and soil enrichment.
(I was kidding.)
I don't know either. I suspect the use of shovels, however.
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