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Demolishing Your Pool? Don’t Hire a Guy with a Shovel

March 8, 2015 by Diane

Toy carts

After years of paying a dude in a Hawaiian shirt to swish chlorine into the pool once a week (or whenever the mood struck him), after sinking thousands of dollars in electric bills to keep the pump running and in water bills to keep the level up; after endless complaints about the cost to maintain a pool, a pool that nobody swam in except for one day in June when pool-dude figured out how to wrestle the cover off; after all this, my landlady realized that it might be more cost-effective to just demolish the darn thing.

So she hired a landscape company.

“Um, don’t landscapers, you know, plant things?” I wondered aloud. “Do they know anything about demolishing a concrete pool?”

“They were cheap,” she said.

Ah! That made sense. It’s like when you need an appendectomy and you schedule it with a guy who does breast implants, because he’s cheaper.

If you, dear reader, are seeking an affordable solution for a demolition project, let me fill you in on how a landscape company handles the job. Since I work from home on Fridays, I’m only privy to the goings-on of the demolition crew once a week, so bear this in mind.

The first week, I saw one guy. ONE GUY.

With a shovel.

“Oh, my,” I grumbled aloud. “This is going to take a loooooooong time.”

Luckily, another guy showed up. With a jackhammer. He jackhammered for about two minutes, then they both sat around in the shade checking their cell phones, and knocked off at 3:30.

The next Friday, I saw two guys with jackhammers and the guy with a shovel. I saw empty plastic water bottles in the planters and scattered about the lawn, and a lot of twisted rebar poking up from what remained of the pool, which was almost all of it, less the top three inches. The crew periodically made attempts to jackhammer and shovel through the rebar, and then gave up, checked their cell phones, and knocked off at 3:30.

The next Friday, I had to interview a wealthy donor on the phone. I was writing a profile piece for a client. I needed quiet. I needed to sound professional. I looked out the window. The landscapers were lounging amongst the empty plastic bottles. I placed the call. At the same moment, the crew sprung into action. They jackhammered for thirty minutes straight, the entire length of the interview.

“I apologize,” I shouted on the phone. “They’re jackhammering outside my window.”

“That’s okay,” the donor shouted back. “They’re sawing trees down outside mine.”

At 3:30 the crew packed up their phones and left.

On Monday, two metal dumpsters appeared in the driveway blocking all access to the carport. By the end of the week they were miraculously full of remnants from the pool. How? I haven’t a clue. Perhaps a real crew came when I wasn’t looking.

On Friday, a load of dirt arrived. And a wheelbarrow.

“Oh, no,” I groaned.

I sauntered outside, where the landscapers were smoking and texting among piles of rebar. The guy with the shovel was digging up little spots of lawn because, well, that’s what landscape guys do.

“So,” I said. “When do you think you’ll be done?”

The oldest worker, who appeared to be the ringleader, looked up from his phone. “We were supposed to be done yesterday, but we ran out of dirt.” He wore a ball cap with a bandanna draped over the back of his neck, like one of those hats that rugged men wear in the desert, only cheaper.

“You’re using a wheelbarrow to fill the hole?” I asked.

“Yeah. It’s less destructive than the bobcat. Good for us, though.”

“Building your muscles, eh?”

“Yeah!” He yanked up the sleeves of his T-shirt and flexed his arms.

I curled my lip and walked away. I’d watched him with the wheelbarrow earlier, heading down an incline. The mound of dirt he was pushing was more than those “muscles” could bear; he let go, the wheelbarrow rolled onward, and he stumbled into the gaping hole, arms spiraling.

But I digress.

A lunch truck arrived in the driveway, and the landscapers disappeared.

Initially, the owner of the company gave my landlady a completion date of February 25. It is now March 8. At the rate the “team” is working, the crows will be pecking at the garbage in this backyard crater for another two months.

Will the muscularly-challenged landscapers ever complete the job? Will the dumpsters ever vacate the driveway? Read on.


  1. Onisha Ellis says:

    We (husband) thought about demolishing our pool. We decided it was easier to move.

  2. PorkStar says:

    That reminds me of what a group of Landscapers had me do at a location.

    I was supposed to remove and cut grass weeds and all that weird stuff and they gave me a knife and half saw. They said they were very resourceful and I should be too.

  3. Joan says:


  4. M.W. Thomas says:

    Um, that’s 3:30 Pacific Time right?

  5. Paula says:

    Too bad they couldn’t just fill it in with squirrels…

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