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Organic Gardening: Roofers left shingle crumbs in my garden beds

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Forum: Organic GardeningReplies: 10, Views: 143
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Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

December 29, 2010
8:49 AM

Post #8281873

Of course I know that I should clean every bit of shingle debris out of my garden beds - but that is really hard to do. How dangerous is this debris? I'm afraid since there were THREE layers on the roof that the bottom layer was asbestos on top of everything else. The raised vegetable beds (why didn't I think about covering them?) didn't get too much stuff in them but the areas where I grow berries and rhubarb got hit. They cleaned up the big stuff but I have pieces a quarter size and under all over. I'm (really) going to try my shop vac to pick up stuff now that the ground is frozen - but I need to know if I can even use the fruit or plant food crops in the contaminated beds. I would appreciate your input!

Peace and Plenty,


Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

December 29, 2010
8:58 AM

Post #8281885

Did you have a written contract with the roofers? If so, read it through to see if there is something there that says they should clean-up the shingle debris.
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

December 29, 2010
9:41 AM

Post #8281954

They are my neighbors and gave me a super deal. They cleaned up all the big pieces. I'm really concerned about the stuff shingles are made of contaminating the soil.
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

December 29, 2010
9:50 AM

Post #8281970

The shop vac is a great idea. If I were you, I would get all of that out of there. Some people will not even let runoff from an intact roof with asphalt shingles go to their food gardens. From what I have read, the chemicals in the asphalt are the real danger. If pieces are sitting in your soil, it would seem to me there would be a greater chance of that stuff being released to your plants than if it was just that rainwater ran over them, ya know? I would be more concerned, though, if you were growing leafy greens there than berries. My understanding is that toxic chemicals can be present in leaves but are not usually present in fruits. Something about plant physiology. I remember seeing that about lead and sewage, for instance.


Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

December 31, 2010
8:51 PM

Post #8285969

My understanding of the situation: Asbestos is okay as long as it doesn't make dust that you can inhale - you don't need to worry about your plants taking it up. Don't inhale the dust when you empty the shop vac. The concern with the tar-based shingles is that IF they contain heavy metals, it might leach out. I would think that if you have gotten all the visible pieces - scrape off the top of the soil if necessary - that should be good enough.
Charleston, SC
(Zone 8b)

March 28, 2011
2:39 AM

Post #8454949

We had our roof replaced 7 years ago and have gutters. Loose "grit" washed down for a long time and I still see it in small amounts today after heavy rain. The roofers walked on your roof loosening all that grit. I would check what the shingles were made of if you have food gardens under your eves, but I think todays stuff is safe, just annoying. I had a clean-up clause yet they still missed a great deal- I don't think they thought little pieces counted.
Huntersville, NC

June 9, 2011
1:54 AM

Post #8619372


We had our roof replaced too. Didint find much large debris or shingles, but there was a lot of grit.

I'm still finding nails all over the place, in the lawn, flower beds, and veggie garden areas.
I have no idea how nails can 'travel' so far. :(

Prior to reading this post I had not considered the possible consequences of nails in the veggie beds.

If there is ever a next time, I will watch them as I would a two year old.
Keeping close but polite communication with the on-site supervisor. smh.
Charleston, SC
(Zone 8b)

June 9, 2011
3:15 AM

Post #8619391

A few years after we did our roof I started noticing roofs done with metal sheets. Think that would hold up better than shingles in a big storm. No grit to contend with but you will always have stray nails.
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

June 9, 2011
6:08 AM

Post #8619633

Yep - still picking up nails.
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 23, 2012
10:33 AM

Post #9177240

Late to this thread but we had ours redone a few years ago. The contractors were very meticulous but I noticed a lot of grit from the shingles in the beds. That should not present a problem as asbestos is no longer a part of shingle material.

Should the old roofing (if removed) have asbestos, it would have been of more harm to the roofers than the ground that it fell upon.

I did however find roofing nails that had escaped their grasp. I found these by thoroughly scouring the area with one of those magnets of a long handle. OTOH, if we don't drive over them or step of them, nails will add iron to the beds. lol
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

June 24, 2012
7:17 AM

Post #9178263

Oh yeah - lots of nails! I am still picking up crumbs but no longer obsessing. :)

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