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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I have a dilemma. My yard's dirt is hard, like rock hard, and I can't seem to sink those plastic tombstone sticks that come with the styrofoam tombstones. I have tried metal, but that doesn't work, because I can get it into the ground, but it rips through the styrofoam and isn't sturdy enough.

I have also tried gluing stuff to the back, but the ground is still too hard to hammer something in while it is glued to the tombstone.

Also, I live in California and Oct. is the rainy/windy month.

Any suggestions on how I can keep my graveyard afloat would be much appreciated.

-Jose
StrictlySplatter.com
 

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Lord of the Cemetery
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Hi Jose.
If your ground is soft enough, you can hammer a couple lengths of rebar in, Glue a couple lengths of pvc pipe to the back of your tombstone and slip these over the rebar.
for extra security, drill corresponding holes in the rebar and pvc sleeves and secure with locking wire.
 

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Bête noire
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I have the same problem - I have a typical postage-stamp size front yard that isn't visible from the front of the house. I do have a large two-car+ driveway, where I set up the graveyard. I attach 12X12 boards to the base of the 'stones and wooden markers using a 3" metal right-angle mount. The boards are painted black and covered with leaves. I use a lot of leaves, but it gives the illusion of a dry Autumn field. The boards are detachable for easy storage. Here's a pic from last year. There are some other views of the graveyard in my Halloween 2008 album.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Excellent ideas, thanks. It looks like I will have to get right on that to have it ready.

Otaku, I'm new here, how do I find your Halloween 2008 album?
 

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One year I had a similar super-hard-ground issue. It was so hard that I couldn't even pound in the rebar that hold up my stones (as Baron Samedi suggested above, a lot of us use pvc pipe glued to the back of the stones, or have drilled holes in the bottom of the stones to accept the rebar). A trip to my local home center provided me with a "planting auger". Basically a heavy duty drill bit designed for planting bulbs. You may have seen the gigantic one that Billy Mays pitches on TV called "the ground aug". The one from my home center was only about 2" across. It went through that dry hard ground like nothing, leaving the soil soft enough to get the rebar in.

Alternatively, have you considered watering your lawn every day for a few hours starting the week before you need to install your stones?

Craig
 

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I also deal with awful CA adobe soil. I've used water to moisten the ground and then driven in the spikes that I need, and then when it hardens back up, it's stuck in place darn tightly.

Since the tiny-particle soil can be slow to absorb water, I set my hose on a *very* slow drip, drag it to where I want it and allow it to penetrate the ground for a couple of hours. Might helpt to break up the surface a little by scraping it up somewhat, to help the water penetrate. Tends to not puddle outward much but instead penetrate straight down if you do it like that, doesn't use much water (always an issue in our state), and will usually stay moist enough for a coupla days for you to drive a stake down. (You may not need a coupla hours for it, but I usually do this for fertizilizer spikes and they're quite broad and I need the soil to really give.)

Nice graveyard Otaku--it's a classic cemetery look and I like the effect of the leaves. (You must live in one of those KB neighborhoods off of Cedar? My sister has a home there too. I'll have to keep my eyes open for your haunt :) )
 

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I too live in hard, compacted, clay soil CA. The developers really pack it down too. Anchoring anything into our ground in the fall/winter after a dry summer is next to impossible. Bent many anchoring stakes trying. Even bought a rubber hammer to pound with more force. Pointless. Maybe a sledgehammer would be more useful. For my lit trees (halloween and xmas) I do my best to anchoring them to the nearby fence with tether wires, pulling it from different directions. The last two years I have had better success adding additional leftover large limestone floor tiles to the bottom of the tree stand area to help weigh down the base. But yes, for me too it's always been a problem since moving here.

Last year I tried making a wooden square base for one of my props but the base wasn't large enough and the whole thing still tipped over. Even with bricks added to the top. Plus covering the base is always kind of an issue. Here in CA we don't get a lot of fall leaves on the ground to throw over stuff. I was thinking maybe a large "L" bracket attached to back of prop and then run along the ground and weighed down would be useful. Haven't given much thought to it since last year but guess it's time to do so. For some of my trees I thought I'd give my outdoor umbrella stands a chance to anchor the trunk. I also bought some tiki pole ground anchors this past winter during a clearance and thought I could try inserting them before the ground turned to cement. Obviously knowing where to place them ahead of time is an issue.

I've used masonry drill bits before on projects and was tempted to try it on my ground. Maybe I'll look into a planting auger. I know that earthquake augers will work but they're more than I would want to invest in. Possibily a local tool rental place would have them. I hate to spend a lot of money for this sort of stuff and instead save the money for props.


BTW Otaku, looked through your current projects album and I love the new witch you're working on. Great face. Is that one of the talking Boris' underneath? Also wanted to mention that you make the best use of a driveway that I've seen yet.
 

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Bête noire
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BTW Otaku, looked through your current projects album and I love the new witch you're working on. Great face. Is that one of the talking Boris' underneath? Also wanted to mention that you make the best use of a driveway that I've seen yet.
Thanks for the kind words, GoS! Much appreciated. Yes, that's a Boris underneath the mache and Paperclay face. I made a second witch to keep her company, and I'll be adding a third one (stirring the cauldron) this year. Here's a short vid of a test file:

MOV06513.flv video by Otaku1031 - Photobucket
 

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I also use the plywood base method. I glue a piece of 1X2 to the back of the tombstone, attach a large L bracket, and then connect that to the plywood base. Here in AZ everybody has gravel, so I just bury the base under a bunch of gravel. Also, you can use a brick on the base to help hold it down. You can paint the brick to match your tombstone, and you don't even notice it. This has always worked for me, even with our strong desert winds.
 

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Easy solution. Take your tombstone and glue a PVC tube to the back with silicone. Then you can use rebar and dowel rods, slightly smaller diameter than the PVC, cut to the desired lengths. Both of these can be hammered into the ground and support the tombstone markers.

This has worked for me always. Keep up the scares.
 
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