How to Remove Broken Glass From Grass and Yards

Updated on September 16, 2019
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Scientist and author, Beth writes on a wide variety of subjects.

Broken glass on grass or in backyards can cause severe injury.
Broken glass on grass or in backyards can cause severe injury. | Source

Safety First - Always Wear Gloves When Handling Broken Glass

Stay calm after glass breakages. Don't panic when you see broken shards of glass on your lawn or patio. Think safety first.

  1. Put on gloves to protect your hands and arms from cuts.
  2. Pick up the largest pieces of broken glass and remove them to a garbage can.
  3. Next remove by hand as many of the smaller glass fragments as possible.
  4. Finally use a vacuum cleaner to hoover up all the remaining tiny pieces from the grass or yard floor.

How to Remove Shards from Yard, Lawn or Grassy Area

Sweeping up and removing every piece of broken glass from a flat surface is difficult, but removing tiny fragments of glass from a lawn or grassy area is even more challenging. If the lawn surface is rock-hard due to drought, then you can treat it as you would if breakage occurred on your kitchen floor. However, if the soil is wet and soggy then some of the glass may have become embedded in the top layer. There are four steps you should follow to ensure safe removal of every single piece of smashed glass.

1. Put on Protective Clothing

To protect your hands from cuts and abrasions always wear gloves when handling broken glass. A pair of gardening gloves is ideal or you could wear some latex dishwashing gloves.

If the breakage occurs in summer you may be barefoot. Remember to put on some shoes to protect your feet before you begin this clean-up job.

2. Remove Large Pieces of Glass

Carefully remove the largest pieces of the broken glass one by one. Wrap them in newspaper to protect the sharp edges from cutting though the outer bag and injuring someone. Place the wrapped glass pieces inside a plastic bag ready for disposal.

3. Next Remove Smaller Glass Fragments

Even after sweeping with a broom, there will always be some tiny glass fragments left that are too small to be collected by the brush or to be picked up manually. To pick up the smaller pieces of glass use either a piece of bread or some Play-doh.

The video below shows how easy it is to gather up all the teeny-tiny pieces of broken glass with some bread. Once you have done this, don't try to remove the shards from the bread or Play-dough, but put the entire slice of glass-embedded bread or Play-dough into a trash bag for safe disposal.

How to Clean Up Broken Glass with Bread

4. Finally Vacuum Clean the Lawn or Yard

If the soil is very muddy, you could use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to remove the last few pieces of glass from the lawn. The video below shows how a powerful vacuum will easily suck up glass, soil and similar debris. However, this may not be suitable for your situation.

If you are still left with some bits of glass twinkling in the sunlight, then you may have to remove the top half inch of the area of lawn affected. It can be a nuisance to have to rake over and reseed a small patch of lawn. But it's better to do this than have someone cut their bare feet later on a piece of glass that was left behind in the soil.

Clean up Safely

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What is Safety Glass?

Safety glass (for example the type used for auto windscreens and patio doors) is a kind of toughened or laminated glass. When it breaks, the pieces formed do not have sharp edges. Instead, the glass breaks into chunks looking a bit like hexagonal sugar cubes. This type of glass is much safer and its use has saved many laceration injuries since its use for patio windows became standard.

Shattered safety glass.
Shattered safety glass. | Source

Accidents Caused By Non-Safety Glass

Ordinary glass (for example, the type used to make drinking glasses or wine bottles,) shatters into fine shards when broken. These splinters are extremely sharp and can cause deep wounds.

In 2013, a man in Anglesey, Wales, UK died after his femoral artery was accidentally cut by broken glass. He had been clearing up the pieces of a broken wine glass and had put the pieces into a black garbage bag. However, he failed to wrap the broken glass in some newspaper first.

As he carried the bag outside ready for collection, a piece of the glass poked through the black garbage bag and cut into his leg. He received a cut that measured an inch and a half and which severed his femoral artery. He lived on his own and he bled to death before he could summon help. The pathologist said that it was likely that the speed at which he bled to death would not have given him enough time to get to the phone.

Minimize Use of Glass to Prevent Accidents

Broken glass on the lawn may come from someone accidentally dropping a wine bottle or a drinking glass. A less common source would be broken glass from an old window pane or garden glass-house or cold-frame. The best way to clear up this type of accident is to prevent it happening in the first place by limiting the use of glass in your backyard or garden.

There are many alternatives to glass, including plastic, paper, cardboard and wood. The best one to choose depends on the use to which it is put. Clear plastic sheeting could be used to replace cold-frames and greenhouse glass. It is common for parents to give young children plastic beakers to drink from to minimize breakages and this could be extended to include teenagers. In some towns plastic drinking glasses are used in bars, pubs and restaurants to avoid broken glass being used in fights.

You may decide to continue to use glass in your home, but could try to minimize the problem of clearing up glass shards from lawns by making it a house rule that no one takes drinks beyond your paved patio area.

Broken glass in paddocks can cause mouth and hoof injuries to horses and other livestock.
Broken glass in paddocks can cause mouth and hoof injuries to horses and other livestock. | Source

What's the Best Way to Remove Glass from a Paddock?

Broken glass in paddocks or fields is a danger to livestock. If possible, fence off the affected area until all the glass has been removed. Glass shards can cause life-threatening injuries to animals.

For small areas of broken glass, follow the advice given in the rest of this article. If the glass is scattered over a larger area of the field, then removing the top inch of soil and grass would be the best solution. If you do not have a digger yourself, a local farmer may be able to help. There are also specialist companies that hire out earth-moving machinery.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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