Something's buried in my shade garden...

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

This is a bit creepy. When I was trying to dig planting holes for some new hostas, I discovered what looked like a felt blanket under the soil. I tugged on it, at first thinking it was some kind of weird blue landscape fabric. (The people who gardened here before me just loooooved landscape fabric, as I'm finding every time I dig.) It wouldn't budge.

As I started trying to dig around it to see if I could get it out of the soil, I found that most of it had been covered with the same sort of bricks used to build my house (which was built in 1890), and also used as pavers in my yard. I'm sure the gardens here were far more recent additions than something built in 1890, but it seems like it used to be a fairly common practice to keep some of these Cream City bricks on hand for patching or adding on. I'm guessing the people who put in the pavers used a pile that was lying around. (I find the bricks, or pieces of them, in the soil around here occasionally, too.)

So, here's what I figure. Someone--who knows when?--buried something in the shade garden. They wrapped it in a blanket, then covered it with bricks, and then layered on a couple inches of dirt. Whatever's there seems about as large as a medium-sized dog. I'm desperately hoping that it's just someone's family pet laid to rest several years back and not anything more...disturbing.

So, now the tricky part. Do I try to dig it out? And if I do, how do I dispose of it? I suppose I could just let sleeping critters lie, but that leaves a large area in the center of my shade garden that's not deep enough to plant anything in. Unless I put in a few container plants and leave the soil alone.

What would YOU do? =/

Thumbnail by KaylyRed
Spooner, WI

Yikes, that is disturbing! I don't think I'd want to touch that with a 10-foot pole, figuratively and literally. I think I'd call my local police station and explain what was found. They may want to come out and take a look. If it is something more than just a family pet you may want to avoid the trauma. If you leave it alone and cover the area with containers you'll always wonder what lies beneath.....(or at least I would).

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I'm something like 99% convinced it's an animal. But that other 1% is still enough to make me raise my eyebrows.

I have a feeling the police would be miffed at having to excavate a dog skeleton. (And I know this seems somewhat irrelevant, especially if the buried thing is something other than an animal, but I don't want them trampling my garden!) Maybe I can dig and remove enough of the bricks and the blanket to get a peek at it. But...ugh! I don't want to!

Kansasville, WI(Zone 5a)

If it were an animal, the area would have sunken in somewhat as the animal decomposes.
Maybe it's buried treasure in a box. lol

At one time I uncovered a little tin box, of course I had to open it. There was a little bell inside, and a mirror. But no bird or bones.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Hmm, I hadn't thought about the ground sinking in, crazy4brugs. Of course, if it was sunken, I mighty not have noticed it before I started working up the soil. Now that everything's "fluffed up," it's hard to tell if there was a depression there.

Don't these little discoveries, like your tin box, make you wonder what the story is behind them?

Madison, WI

I have dug burried things in my garden, but those were construction rubble like tiles and brick and metal pieces and chunks of concrete. The blanket does make me feel unconfortable.
I'd dig it and leave openning to someoneelse, quite agree that letting strangers not gardeners in your garden is risky. Hope this turns out to be something really benign.

(Zone 5a)

My first greyhound and a cat are buried uncreamated and others creamated in small boxes in a spot at the back of my yard since then. Most of the yard is garden, the memorial area is against garden area.
since you can reach the blanket, I would take a look. You can always put soil back over the area and/or move the pet to a quieter spot if you need to. I think it is very likely a pet since I know many people who have said they kept their deceased pets remains in their own yards (legal or not).

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

KaylyRed, any clue how to contact the previous owners? If not, is there anyone who might be willing to look for you? You probably wouldn't need to dig it up completely to get a pretty good idea what's there. Any young/teenage boys (or tomboys, I would have done it) with curious minds?
How long have you been in the house? Since you don't mention an odor I'm guessing it's pretty well decomposed, but because it's wrapped, would at least be intact enough to move. I would probably take it out, and dig it deeper, and put it back with enough dirt on top to enable me to still plant, but not change the "resting place" of someone's pet. I think it's because that's what I would like to have someone do for me. I still own property in Florida that has quite extensive pet burials. I would hope that if the new owners (if anyone ever starts buying again) comes across the remains of some of my friends, they would just bury them deeper, and go on. I seldom buried them wrapped in anything, and in Fl decomp is pretty quick and complete, so they would probably never notice most of them.
Still I really wouldn't blame you if you choose to remove the item, but my soft heart would have to bury it again as close as possible, if much deeper.
I know it is foolish, that what made my FurKids my Furkids has long gone on to something else (what/where ever that may be). They certainly wouldn't care, so it's just me.....


edited because I can't spell or punctuate:(.

This message was edited May 1, 2009 8:37 AM

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

A little on digging.
An old man and woman were married for many years, even
though they hated each other. When they had
a confrontation, screaming and yelling could be heard deep
into the night.

The old man would shout, 'When I die, I will dig my way
up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the
rest of your life!'

Neighbors feared him. They believed he practiced black
magic, because of the many strange occurrences that took
place in their neighborhood. The old man liked the fact
that he was feared. To everyone's relief, he died of a
heart attack when he was 98.

His wife had a closed casket at the wake. After the burial,
she went straight to the local bar and began to party, as if
there was no tomorrow. Her neighbors, concerned for her
safety, asked, 'Aren't you afraid that he may indeed be able
to dig his way up and out of the grave and come back to
haunt you for the rest of your life?'

The wife put down her drink and said, 'Let him dig. I
had him buried upside down.'

Women - they think of everything!!!!

(Zone 5a)

I also put my pets' tags with the remains, so anyone digging later might make the connection or know a little more about them.

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

AlwaysWeeding, That's a really good idea. I had never planned to leave that house, so It never occured to me to plan for that eventuality. Foolish, huh? As if once I was gone the property would remain empty in deference to my feelings *G*.
In my new home, I try to keep the burials where I don't think anyone will dig, basically in the woods and in places not good for growing.
Thanks for a really good thought.


Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I contacted the previous owners. They know nothing about any animal buried in that part of the yard. This means the pet has been buried there for over 5 years (which was how long they had the house).

So, here's the conclusion I've come to:

I'm going to dig up just enough to see what's there and make sure it's nothing to worry about...just for my own peace of mind. Then I'm going to take some of the nice field stones that are piled up behind my garage (the previous owners left a mess, but there are still some treasures, too!) and build the area around the burial site up another 8 inches or so. It'll create a nice tiered look in my garden, and should also provide deep enough soil for most of the things I'd like to plant.

This way, I can do both the things I want to do--plant in my shade garden, and leave somebody's pet undisturbed in its resting place under the maple tree.

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

(big smile). What a nice solution. I'm glad that there's a win-win. And I'll bet the garden grows better for it:)


Kansasville, WI(Zone 5a)

So what is buried in your yard????

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Whoops! Sorry I forgot to update. It appears to be a dog based on the skull. That was all I needed to see (to know it's not human). It's now covered with several inches of composted manure as I'm getting it ready for planting. When I'm finished, I'll post a photo.

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

KaylyRed,what a great little story,Iam glad it wasnt human!!! But my curiosity would have gotten to me too,I would have had my fearless dh dig it up !! or the guy next door. what a great idea to build up with the field stone ,now we want to see pix of the finished bed !!!

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I've got the bed halfway finished. Needs another layer of stones and compost before it's tall enough to support some plants with deeper roots.

On a side note, I bought bagged composted humus and manure with an analysis of .05-.05-.05. I thought that aged compost/manure wasn't supposed to smell, but...ugh! This stuff smells like sewage. (It doesn't even smell like manure, to be honest. It smells like driving past a sewage treatment plant.) I'm a little worried that if the smell is this strong the stuff might not be aged enough and could burn my plants. (And yet, there IS that guaranteed analysis on the bag.) Or maybe it's just because it was bagged that the smell is so concentrated? Yuck.

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

KaylyRed, that would concern me too,Ive burned plants with not fully composted leaves ,they smelled sour,learned another lesson,listen to your gut,if in doubt dont do it ,good luck.gotta go baltimore orial just showed up,yes !!

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Well, after the compost dried it smelled just fine, so I went ahead and planted.

Here's the grave site, built up with field stones and planted in what I've started to call my courtyard shade garden. Everything you see here was just planted this spring. In a few years when it fills in I'm hoping it'll be nice and lush.

Do you think the long lost pet would approve of what I've done to his (or her) grave site?

Thumbnail by KaylyRed
Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

And here's a closeup look...

Thumbnail by KaylyRed
Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

And another angle...

Thumbnail by KaylyRed
Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

KaylyRed,Very nice job,yes Iam sure the pet would approve.And Iam sure it will fill in fast with yourTLC!!!nice work,Did you smash any fingers ????every time I work with field stone I always hurt myself!!! Picture of sydney,she found the catmint,ONE HAPPY CAT.

Thumbnail by huggergirl
Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Aw, Sydney's cute with her tongue sticking out like that. Does she like to roll around in the catmint or just nibble on it?

No smashed fingers for me, although some of these rocks were BIG. I used my leather gardening gloves and hauled everything over in a few wheelbarrow loads. The only injury (not so traumatic) was banging my shins against the wheelbarrow as I tried to lug it over to the garden bed. :P

Mount Prospect, IL(Zone 5b)

Very pretty corner garden, Kayly! Have you decided yet what you're going to put in the baskets? I'm sure the pet and his owners would appreciate what you've done. And I'm glad there were no serious injuries from the stone construction work!

Hee hee, Sydney looks like she's definitely "on" something!!

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I haven't quite decided on the baskets yet. I have this thing about killing hanging baskets. But they were there, and the shepherd's hook was buried deep, so I'll have to come up with something. :)

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

KaylyRed,Yes Syd rolls and eats and snorts and purrrrs, she was on alittle walk with me,my 2 older cats are leash broke.i worked on the flower bed under the mail box added dirt,ive got a bunch planted I figure it will be the survivor of the fittest !! Harsh conditions out by the road,dry and hot,bit of shade in afternoon,i will take more pix as things fill in.keep hearig that orial ,wish she would find that feeder !!

Thumbnail by huggergirl
Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

Hugger, Syd is a babe! And, Kayley, I think it is so cool that you are sensitive to that dear doggie buried there. Someone sure loved him or her! And, I think he/she would approve! Hey, know what you could do? Get a little statuette of a dog and wrap a piece of blue fabric around it (I think you said the dog had a blue blanket around it, right?) and put it in the bed in honor of . . . "mystery beloved doggie"! That would be cute and a nice story for all who see it and ask about it! : )

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

I would be very happy if someone were to treat my departed friends with such care.

Thank you:)

Reedsburg, WI(Zone 4b)

KaylyRed, I have somewhat of a morbid side to me and, knowing this, my sister pointed me in direction of your thread. LOL I am always telling her when we are digging a new bed, it is my fantasy to dig up bones and uncover some old crime!! Sick I know but I would welcome a large group of CSI investigators or the TV crew from Cold Case Files trampling my yard!!

It is so nice to see what you did with someones beloved pet's grave site. You have continued to honor the love they must have had for their pet.

Lakeville, MN

Oh dear. We buried my beloved doxie and my sweet cat, plus a dead rabbit in our back yard. I was going to bury the dog with her favorite blanket but thought it wouldn't disintigrate because it was acrylic.

I hope this doesn't freak out the next owners of the house. It will be many years before we move.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I wouldn't worry too much, hamptonmeadow. I actually didn't really freak out all that much--I just wondered what I should do with the spot, since it's a prime spot right outside my courtyard and home to my hosta garden.

I would think most people would want to do the right thing and try to leave someone's buried pet undisturbed.

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