Discovered wire cage underground

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  #1  
Old 04-12-07, 05:19 PM
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Discovered wire cage underground

Hi all. I just started removing some sod in preparation for starting another garden. Just a few inches down I thought my shovel was hitting solid concrete but after carefully removing an area of soil I discovered what I can only describe as a "wire cage".

This is not a flimsy mesh. I'd estimate the wire is oh about 10 gauge, steel, quite rigid, and the perpendicular wires form about 4" squares. Again this is just underneath the sod, and seems to cover virtually my entire yard between the house and detached garage.

Of course this will need to be removed, which will no doubt entail purchasing some heavy-duty cutters (and many hours of work!). But my question is why on earth did they do such a thing? What do they call this? (So I can search for more info) Is there any danger in removing a portion of it? Can't help but wonder if someone is trying to warn me about something down there.

Here are all the random facts I can think of that might help:
- Urban area. I live in the city limits of West Des Moines, IA
- Neighborhood, house, and maybe some of the service lines are 100 years old
- Entire area is completely flat; no erosion issues
- No pipelines, etc.
- There is a gravel driveway in close proximity, but this wire extends to an area of the yard nowhere near the drive

Just thought of something else... doesn't this interefere with the utility location service's equipment? Kinda curious. Anyway thanks in advance for any info you may have.

A somewhat related question: There is an underground feeder wire running under the area in question for the garage's electrical service. I'm not sure precisely where it is, nor do I know if it is inside conduit. It is _not_ GFCI protected until it actually reaches the garage. This is obviously not something I want to slice with my shovel. How strong is the insulation on these types of cables usually? Any tricks for digging in close proximity to these things?

Thanks,
-Jason
 
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  #2  
Old 04-12-07, 06:16 PM
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Discovered wire cage underground

It sounds like 6-6/10-10 wire mesh used to reinforce concrete slabs for garages and driveways. It is a 6" grid of 10 gage wire.

I used 6' x 6' sections to make great cages (6' high x 2' diameter) for tomato plants and beans.

I may have been left over from the construction and was spread to protect the underground as you suggested.

Dick
 
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Old 04-12-07, 08:47 PM
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Wire Cage

Here in the suburban San Francisco Bay Area we often install such wiremesh before putting in a new lawn (sod) to prevent moles and gophers from building their destructive tunnels and coming up to damage roots of trees and shrubs. I am puzzled, however, by the fact that yours is 4 inch square size; here we use much smaller ones.
 
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Old 04-13-07, 04:34 PM
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Why do you want to remove it?

The spaces are too large to interfer with root growth, and it is deep enough to allow planting seedlings.
 
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Old 04-13-07, 08:05 PM
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Thanks for all the responses. I guess so far the moles/gophers suggestion seems most plausible at this point. Although I'd take gophers any day, over all the headache this will end up causing me.

Regarding why I need to remove it:

Single most important reason is because I cannot work the soil to prepare it for planting. The soil is quite compacted because this area of the yard has never been anything but lawn. There is also a moderate rock content and I was planning on removing the larger ones as I shoveled the soil. But I can live with the rocks if necessary.

The mesh really isn't that deep at all as suggested. With the sod removed it's less than 1/2 to 1 inch deep in places. Planting seedlings would still be possible, yes, if I made individual holes in the spaces with a slim trowel first.

And for the last reason. This is actually going to be a vegetable garden. I'm not worried about the wire interfereing with root development, but rather the fact that I won't be able to harvest certain crops after they grow underneath the wire. Things like onions and potatoes which will be too large to squeeze up through the spaces.

I realize I could have 12" of topsoil trucked in and mound it up or something. But being one man armed with only a shovel, I think that would be almost just as troublesome as removing the wire, and certainly look a lot worse unless I built a short retaining wall.

If I'm going to spend any money on this I think I'd rather spend it on hiring someone to dig this up for me, rather than having dirt delivered. Season's quickly getting ahead of me and I'm starting to wonder if I'll be able to finish all this in time, only being able to devote an hour a day on it. Job is going horribly slow -- maybe I'm doing something wrong, but can't seem to get the sod to roll up nicely. Have had to resort to taking it out a spadeful at a time.

Anyone know about how much this would cost me? Just having the sod pulled off and wire removed, no digging necessary. We're only talking about maybe 650' square feet.
 
  #6  
Old 04-14-07, 06:41 AM
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Discovered wire cage underground

If you explore a bit, you will find that the mesh of that gage is probably laid down in strips since the maximum width of a roll would be a 6' or 8' wide strip. Anything wider would be unmanageable.

Knowing the width and orientation of the strips may make your planning easier.

The remove may be a slow hand process since the shallow depth may preclude the use of a sod cutter. You could rent a manual or powered sod cutter to see if it is possible if you cannot just raise the mesh sections through the grass roots starting at an end.

Dick
 
  #7  
Old 04-14-07, 07:37 AM
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You present the following re: wire mesh:

1. "There is an underground feeder wire running under the area in question for the garage's electrical service. I'm not sure precisely where it is, nor do I know if it is inside conduit. It is _not_ GFCI protected until it actually reaches the garage. This is obviously not something I want to slice with my shovel."

2. "Seems to cover virtually my entire yard between the house and detached garage."

3. "The soil is quite compacted because this area of the yard has never been anything but lawn. There is also a moderate rock content."

4. "Season's quickly getting ahead of me and I'm starting to wonder if I'll be able to finish all this in time, only being able to devote an hour a day on it."

Under the circumstances, it appears that raised bed gardening would be the easiest and quickest solution.
 
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Old 04-14-07, 11:07 AM
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ya got a pick up truck?

if you (and most definately a helper (somebody to make sure nothing is attached to this thing) get together with a tow strap, I'm betting since it isn't very deep, a truck will pull it out and even break up the soil as you do it.

The other possibility of what it was for was at one time somebody may have been planning on concrete pathway between the garage and house but got sidelined for whatever reason and simply left the rewire in the ground.

the feeder to the garage should be much deeper in the ground. If it isn't, you would want to know where it actually is anyway and correct the obviously improper and unsafe instalation. Shut off the breaker to the garage before ANY excavation or soil prep if you have doubts as to location and depth of the feeder.

as far as cutting out part of it; some input from the concrete guys as commentary on this suggestion;

concrete saw. would it be damaging to it to use it to cut the wire in the ground? Obviously an unconventional use for it.

If not, maybe you could rent a saw and literally saw the ground deep enough to cut the area clear. Then remove as I suggested or by hand if you like.
 
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