Surprises when excavating

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

Picture of Natasha Maerz

Natasha Maerz

Owner/Office Manager

While excavating may seem pretty straight forward, there are some obstacles involved when digging.


No one likes surprises, and that’s certainly the case here, however it’s a very real possibility.

Anytime an excavation project is underway there are chances of finding other things other than underground utilities.

 Lots of yards are filled with free soil and dirt from random sites, making it hard to know what product you are getting, and if it is debris free.

What can take a homeowner by surprise even more is what was used as “fill” in their yard. Some DIYers and landscapers will use large boulders, bricks or even tires as fill, which can cause a problem for whoever excavates next.

What you should expect on almost every dig:

  1. Rocks: From small pebbles to fist sized and bigger
  2. Sticks and or tree roots
  3. Debris: Garbage, glass, etc.
  4. Excess material left over (soil expands 1.3 X when excavated)


What you may encounter:

  1. Large boulders that cannot be dug up, require large machinery, or blasting
  2. Contaminated soil from underground storage tank
  3. Private utilities not located by BC1Call: Sewer, Electrical, Water, Gas
  4. Sprinkler irrigation lines



Underground surprises although rare, do happen.

As a homeowner be aware that finding these surprises during excavation could lead to the project costing more (disposal, especially if what is found is contaminated ex. Dry wall), or cause the project to take longer due to this disposal.

While these points may seem worrisome, a competent contractor is aware that you never know what you may find when excavating, and prepares for this ahead of time.