By Amy Dolego
It seemed so simple when we started. All my husband and I wanted to do was to remove the small rocks that were sticking up out of the back yard lawn. They looked like the tips of icebergs and, besides tripping over them, it made mowing the grass more difficult. We didn’t realize these rocks were, in fact, huge boulders living under the lawn.
Thank goodness my husband, Dennis, is a big, strong, athletic guy. His brother is made of the same stuff. Together, Dennis and Bruce started digging out the rocks with a couple of pry bars. I helped, too. The first couple of rocks weren’t so bad and they came out without much trouble. But, to our surprise, once we peeled the top of the lawn back, we found that there wasn’t much soil. It was all construction dirt and large boulders. Evidently, when our house was first built in 1775, they must have dug a large pit and buried all the rocks and stones that they removed to create the cellar. There were only a couple of inches of soil on top. It was no wonder why our grass didn’t grow well!
We started the project last year during that unusual hot, dry summer when the temperatures averaged in the mid nineties for weeks on end. It was bad timing on our part. At any point we could have stopped and hired someone to finish, but we’re stubborn. Once we began, we felt we had to see it to the end. Every night when we came home from work and all weekend long, we worked on removing these boulders. Some of them were so large that Dennis and Bruce took turns hitting them with a sledgehammer to break them into pieces. They whacked them thirty to forty times before the rock would finally split. Even so, each piece still weighed about 200 pounds. Using the pry bars for leverage, we’d get them out of the ground, roll them into a wheelbarrow and drive it up the hill where we dumped them in a pile over the edge of a ravine. It went on for weeks.
In the end, we managed to remove most of the rocks. We purchased a truckload of topsoil that we raked over the void and flattened with a rented lawn roller. It was seeded, watered and our grass grew in after a couple of weeks. Some of the rocks we removed were added to the stone walls that ring the property. But there are plenty left to build another small wall. I still can’t believe we actually did this. In retrospect, we should have hired someone with a bulldozer. It would have been done in a couple of days. Oh, well…live and learn!