Just broke ground and smells baD! Manure?? Normal?

iamskcAugust 10, 2014

There's no question. My husband came home from checking on our freshly dug lot (no not on or near a farm) and said "It smells like cow pie."

So I drove by today. Yup. Manure. Strong and true. Is this what newly dug dirt is SUPPOSE to smell like? Because we recently learned a sewage drain was removed when the lot was created (which is why we need peiring)we are a little sensitive to this... smell. But it's not human sewage smell... it smells like cow poop. Pig poop.

So... why? Any ideas?


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Ours stunk to high heaven yes. That was 18 months ago and I notice no offending odors now. Our lot was wooded previously and when we asked the builder where in the heck is that smell coming from, he replied good old fashioned plant matter collecting and composting over time

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 5:26AM
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Hi JuniperSt-
The odors associated with anaerobic bacteria activity should naturally dissipate with sunlight and aeration. If you still notice a strong smell in a few weeks, I would check your city or county records to see if there is some kind of old easement, leach fields or forgotten septic systems adjacent to your property.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 4:20PM
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Ours too! I was afraid we'd hit a septic system or something. I asked the concrete guy about it and he said "That's what dirt smells like." ha

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:51PM
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It most likely means the earth has a high organic content (old dump, swamp, etc.) and may be poorly drained. Such soil is unlikely to be able to support a house so caissons and grade beams might need to be used to reach better soil or rock.

When these conditions are suspected boring samples are usually taken so the foundation can be designed ahead of time and not delay the project.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:16PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

when they manure the fields out here in farm land ... the smell is gone within a day or two ...

it was a bit startling.. when i moved from suburbia ... now.. being a hardcore gardener ... its just a sign of spring.. or fall ... winter applications dont matter ... the windows are shut ....

i dont know if i want to know.. how you are a connoisseur of the various products you are discussing??? ... lol


    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:24PM
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When building a house a few years ago in Toronto, I was often feeling nostalgia for my childhood, part of which was spent in tiny farm towns in northwest Ohio. Turns out I was responding to the odour of ripe cow manure emanating from my mud-covered boots. It seems the house footprint was the site of a long gone barnyard that pre-dated the 1948 house I had demolished. My drain man even pointed out the bricks that the farmers had put down to give the animals footing in the mud.

Mentioned this to an English acquaintance who one-upped me times a thousand. He was digging for an extension of his home in London. Turned out it was the site of an ancient Roman cemetery.

We're not the first ones to pass this way.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 5:55PM
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researched the land history. It was a horse and cow farm 35 years ago.

So... ,manure. lol.

Hope it goes away. Sitting by my dream house pool smelling poop... ugh.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2014 at 9:10PM
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Some of the foulest-smelling stuff is pure clay, I don't know why; it's not supposed to be a hotbed of organic-y goodness.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 9:54AM
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After 35 years, any odor is NOT from horses or cattle. What was once manure is now simply soil, and has been for a long, long time.

I compost manure from our horses for use in my garden, and within six months to a year it is unidentifiable as horse manure. It breaks down quickly and smells like nothing but rich loamy soil. Cow manure is smelly for a bit longer than horses, but there is no smell after a year.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 5:55PM
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ditto what sb said.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 10:15PM
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