I debated between putting this question here or on SE Gardening and Landscape, but I think this question will be a better fit for this site... Let me know if I need to move it.

So I'm now leading into my third summer at this rental home in North Carolina and I've been think about what I can do to make mowing my lawn a bit easier. I'm currently using a push mower for about a third of an acre because I don't have a garage or a shed -- more like a utility closet to store my mower.

One thing that's always bugged me about the backyard is this roughly 3 foot tall metal pole sticking out of the middle of the yard. I've tried digging under it to see how deep it goes and there seems to be at least 6-10 inches of a concrete base below ground level. The only thing stopping me from going even deeper and really trying to remove it is that I have no idea what it actually is doing there. There also seems to be a small landscaping stone on one side of it.

So my question is, can anyone figure out what the purpose of this may have been? Additionally, will I end up running into any electrical or gas lines if I try to dig this thing out?

Side away from the house enter image description here Nob or nobs on side facing the house enter image description here Top down view enter image description here Some clipped off line? enter image description here

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    Have you tried calling your local One-Call center to have any utilities near it marked? Apr 11, 2019 at 23:36
  • I have not. Is that probably my best bet? Just was wondering if any of the smart people on here had a clue what it may have been used for.
    – Steve-o169
    Apr 11, 2019 at 23:37
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    The clipped off pipe inside looks like a flared pressure fitting for a gas lamp ! Could be for water but hard to tell.
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 12, 2019 at 0:15
  • Could it have been a lawn watering device?
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 12, 2019 at 8:52
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    @Ecnerwal Landlord is fine with anything I do that may improve the value of the home and has offered to reimburse me for any cost in doing so. Also, as I said, I'm going into my third year here and there's no signs that we need to move. Got a great deal on rent, a hands-off landlord, and a nice big yard for the dog. I just prefer to have a nicer looking yard and the peach tree 5 feet right of this eye sore would look a lot better if it were gone. Little big of digging isn't that tough to do, so I plan to get it out.
    – Steve-o169
    Apr 13, 2019 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


This is the remnants of a natural gas or propane grill, gas heater, or perhaps a gas lamp. The flared tubing fitting and old control valve stem are the giveaways here.

Look around the structures adjacent to the yard for signs of a pipe with a valve for which you cannot ascertain a purpose, so you can at least try to confirm that any leftover fuel supply line is shut off. Although I doubt anyone would be callous enough to cap, bury, and abandon a live gas line, it is not out of the realm of possibilities. There is also the chance that the fuel supply came from a portable tank...

Either way, I would start digging until it was excavated, then chuck it. If in the course of digging you encounter an old pipe or buried tubing, be careful and try to locate the source to ensure it is shut off and safe to leave as-is.

  • Thanks, I'm a bit of a greenhorn around this sort of thing, but this was my first thought too. I think a gas line runs into the water heater from the back patio not 30 feet away. I'll have to check around there.
    – Steve-o169
    Apr 13, 2019 at 0:32

My guess is that this is the remnants of an old pole for a removable clothesline, either one where they had two of them or the other end attached to the house;

enter image description here

Or an umbrella style:

enter image description here

Very common back in the days before everyone had a clothes dryer, still popular as a way to save energy. Sunshine and dry air are free...

Could also be a base for a removable tether ball pole, but usually not in the middle of the lawn like that, unless it's been so long since anyone used it that the lawn grew in around it. Might go down 18-24" and with that much concrete, it's going to be heavy.

Removing it is likely something you would want to clear with your landlord. My guess would be that the only reason it is still there is because it's a lot of work to dig it out.

  • A good thought, but there's actually a different set of completely rusted iron poles about 10 feet left of these pics. Totally different style of pole.
    – Steve-o169
    Apr 12, 2019 at 0:18
  • The rusty poles may have been the first iteration and not removable, so they deteriorated in the winter. This one could have been done later as a replacement. The notches and pin are indicative of a locking system, to keep a removable one from getting caught in the wind like a sail and carried away.
    – JRaef
    Apr 12, 2019 at 0:36
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    Actually on closer inspection, I see what appears to be a copper flared tubing fitting and the "pin" might be the remains of a valve stem of some sort. That might imply there was a gas line hook-up, so this might have been a base for a BBQ grill.
    – JRaef
    Apr 12, 2019 at 0:39
  • That was one of the thoughts I had, as well. I was thinking grill or electric light pole. The house was built in the 70s so it wouldn't be anything too crazy, but I don't know much about what kind of shut off procedures might be followed in either case.
    – Steve-o169
    Apr 12, 2019 at 0:49
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    I had a similar pole in the backyard of my 1961-built house, with a capped gas line in it. The pole had been rewired for an electric light, but the copper pipe was still in the ground and still connected to the house gas service (and a backyard grill). You may want to investigate whether there is any gas line in the area that could still be "live". What you find under the ground may not be to modern building/plumbing/gas codes (or even legal at the time it was put in). Mine was a pretty flimsy "gas pipe" of bent copper, a long way from cast-iron or insulated stainless steel you'd see today. Apr 12, 2019 at 10:14

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