Saturday, November 26, 2016

Removing Landscape Spikes the Easy Way

The common method of securing landscape timbers is to pound a 12-inch chunk of 3/8 rebar through a hole drilled in the wood into the dirt underneath.  This is secure and cheap method.

However, when the timbers rot or you need to remove them, you are left with a short steel stub sticking out of the ground, firmly anchored by 11 inches of rusted metal.
Spike in Rotting Timber
It's just the right size to puncture tires and the right height to slice open someone's bare foot.

Dangerous Rebar Stub

The spike will be rusted in place and seem to be difficult to pry out, but there is an easy way of removing them.

Tools Needed:

  • Trowel
  • 8-pound sledge hammer or large mallet
  • Big pliers (slip-lock or locking) 

The Process:

  1. Thoroughly wet the dirt, or wait until you have had some heavy rains to soften it.
  2. Dig down with the trowel to expose a couple of inches of the spike. 
  3. Bash the tip of the spike sideways with a sledge hammer or large mallet.  Bash it sideways in multiple directions to loosen it.
    NOTE:  You don't have to do a big swing and expend a lot of energy.  It's more like using a golf putter or croquet mallet, with the spike being the ball. 
  4. Tug the spike out of the ground. 
  5. If it resists, bash it some more. 
  6. If it really resists, grab the tip of the spike firmly with the pliers and rotate the spike a few times, bash it some more, and then triumphantly yank it out.
This method takes less than 5 minutes per spike and requires very little strength.

When the spike is stuck in the timber instead of the ground

If the landscape timber is not rotted or split, the spike is likely to stay embedded when you pry it up.  The solution is to whack the spike back and forth (swing the sledge hammer parallel to the timber's length) to break the wood around it, then pull it out.  Pounding it back through the timber might also work.

Annoying spike in landscape timber

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