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I have what used to be a basketball court in my backyard. Its roughly 20x20 feet. I've already removed and sold the basketball hoop. On the end where the hoop was theres concrete piling sunk below the ground level.

The asphalt is breaking apart on its own in some places. Under the asphalt is a stone/sand mix, its a lot like what I'd put under stone block in other masonry projects.

How in the heck do I remove this pad?

Is it as simple (and backbreaking!) as digging up the asphalt and underlayment and replacing it with topsoil?

Are there any alternatives? I had considered just breaking up the asphalt but not removing it then building a raised garden bed on top of it. The idea being the broken up asphalt would drain. Of course thats still work since I have to build and fill the raised bed.

I seriously doubt the previous owner followed code, but what would the 'standard' way be to build one of these pads? Are there any other surprises waiting for me?

How do I remove the concrete piling for the hoop? Dig it out? Jackhammer?

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You might want to rent a Toro Dingo - it's a small walk-behind loader. Or a mini-excavator. –  Jay Bazuzi Apr 20 '11 at 4:51

3 Answers 3

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If you want to do a proper job then digging the asphalt up is the right way to go. If you can see that there's a stone and sand mix underneath then it can't be that thick.

You'll need a pick-axe or a long crowbar.

Start at the edges or where there's already a hole. Work the end of the pick-axe or crowbar under the pad and then just lift. The further you can get under the better. It "should" lift up relatively easily.

You'll need to remove some of the sand and stones if you want to put soil down otherwise they'll just work their way up to the surface and you'll be constantly picking stones out of your flower beds.

To avoid surprises dig up a small area first and then dig down until you hit soil. It will all depend on what was there before the basketball court was built. If it was from when the house was built there could be all sorts of building refuse under there.

As for the concrete - that will depend on how big it is. You might be able to break it up with a few well aimed hits from a sledgehammer.

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As i get older and less ambitious to tackle tough jobs like your facing by hand, I take a little trip to my friendly "Rent Me" store for my favorite little Kabota backhoe/loader. Half day rates here are about $65 and I can do more in 2 or 3 hours with a good tractor than 2 men can do in a day by hand, and my back feels great afterwards! lol The other nice thing about using a little loader is that you can easily transport or load your spoils, and if you have your new material handy, you can move that around also. How do you intend to dispose of the old asphalt and gravel? You may also consider making a few calls to small excavation contractors in the area. you may be able to hire a machine with operator and a truck to haul it all away for $70 to $100 an hour. A job that size would only take a couple of hours and the spoils would be gone as well.

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I've had good success with a Texas Crowbar, A chisle-tipped 25 pound spear-like shaft about 5' long.

You just lift it about a foot and drop it, or thrust it into the blacktop. On a warm day, it works like a hot knife through butter. Once the asphault has been broken into chunks, use a shovel and wheel barrow to remove the debris

** Asphalt can be recycled, you might find someone in your area who will take it.

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I grew up in the North, is that the same thing as a spud bar? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spud_bar –  Freiheit Apr 21 '11 at 2:59
    
Not exactly. They are sometimes called a 5" Digging Bar. ex. northerntool.com/images/product/images/119942_lg.jpg –  JeffG Apr 21 '11 at 15:54

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