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Uses for Old Shingles

 
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I've discovered several piles of old asphalt shingles on my property (piled with a lot of other trash that is slowing getting sorted into salvage piles and the garbage can). They are old enough that I highly doubt there's any hope of using them for their original purpose (and I'm sure they were worn out when they were piled there). There's a small tree growing out of one pile, the others are half buried. They're pretty much raw material at this point. Does anyone have creative/useful ideas for using these, or should I just get a dumpster and move them to somebody else's landfill...I'm strongly suspecting that they're doing no good for the soil around them... :/
 
pollinator
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Check if There are shingle recycling plants near you. Otherwise you could grind them up yourself; sift out any nails then fill local potholes.
 
pollinator
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I’ve used old shingles to put roofs on bird houses, the more eroded the better. Cut into small tiny shingles with feathered edges (dremel tool) they look great on a faux weathered birdhouse. I like a scalloped effect. Judging from your description you have enough for some thousand of birdhouses.
 
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I use my old shingles to stop weed growth in my driveway near the mail box. There is a lot of overgrowth there from the ditch the mailman was very happy when I cut it all out and put the shingles down.
 
pollinator
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I would get the dumpster. You're right about the soil. Get rid of them, whatever else you do.

To remediate the area, I would get someone to drop a bunch of woodchips where the shingles used to be. I would treat these woodchips regularly with actively aerated compost extract and fungal slurry, probably oyster mushrooms, and I would top up with woodchips as they turn into soil. I wouldn't eat any of the mushrooms, as they will be absorbing contaminants as well as breaking them down in some cases.

After soil is clearly visible in the wood chip mix, I would probably sow in something like a Russian Mammoth sunflower, that generates serious biomass and has a taste for heavy metal contamination. Depending on where you live, there may be better options. Most are fibre-producers, but the only one that I remember sequestering at rates high enough to be exceptional was hemp. Sunflower was right up there, though.

It shouldn't be a huge deal unless the shingle pile is uphill from your food production, or unless you want to use the spot to grow food.

To remediate over the long-term, I would honestly just get to the sunflower stage I described, harvesting and sequestering everything that grows regularly (set to dry in the sun  somewhere it could be gathered would work) until it could be incinerated, preferably in something as hot as the burn tunnel of an RMH. I would then grow either good-looking soil builders or an attractive patch of thriving woodlot on the site, or grow fibre-crops in succession with an annual soil-building guild.

Old shingles set off the same alarm bells for me as old tires. No thank you.

Good luck, Benedict, and keep us posted.

-CK
 
Benedict Bosco
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I think I'm going the dumpster route. Thanks for the remediation tips, Chris...it's going to need a lot of it. The shingles are only part of it...I've pulled 3 or 4 old tires out, most of an old fridge or freezer, lots of broken glass, half melted plastic containers (they just dumped all or most of their garbage back there and tried to burn it occasionally), old flooring tiles, a couple bags of concrete that hardened (ish), etc. I've been throwing some of it into the regular garbage as I get to it, since there's always plenty of room left in the can on garbage day, but some of it is going to require a larger receptacle. I don't know what this corner is going to be, but I can pretty much guarantee it won't be growing food.

Good news for me is that it's at the bottom of the property, so nothing from that is really going to affect anything I'm trying to grow. The bad news is that it's right in the flow where most of the water runs from the property down to a creek, and on into the watershed.

 
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i also use shingles for weed suppression on paths I regularly use.  I live in a high fire danger area and the more dry weeds I keep away from the house and garden, the better.  The grass suppression is also good to keep down the ticks which frequent our high desert landscape.
 
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I have some old shingles from when Hurricane Harvey blew the roofs around here apart. I lined them up along that strip near the wall where the landlord doesn't want anything to grow. I did use them in my garden for awhile but I have replaced them with palm-tree mulch when I turned the garden path into a soil bank.
 
Benedict Bosco
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Situation Update: I've just about removed 2 of 3 piles. I bought a tractor a couple weeks ago, got a deal on an old John Deere. I called a local roofer asking where to take shingles, and he offered to bring his dump trailer over so I could dump them in there, I'll need to pay him for the portion of the load that's mine, and something for dropping it off. Saves me a ton of work in hauling it; would have been multiple loads in my little flatbed trailer, and the nearest transfer station that takes shingles isn't close by.

There were two piles in the dirt, and one on concrete. Turns out the one on concrete was harder to move than I expected - it was the newest of the piles, so they don't really disintegrate under the shovel, but old enough that they do break up when you try to grab them. The ground there is really wet so the tractor can't just pull in directly and scoop them up. Had to pull in sideways and shovel into the bucket. One of the dirt piles was pretty easy, pushed it loose with the tractor, then shoveled it into the bucket (so I didn't get too much dirt mixed into it). They were old enough that they scooped up nicely. The last pile has a lot of broken glass and garbage mixed in; I'm going to poke at it one more time before the trailer leaves, but that one may just have to be taken as trash...the labor of sorting shingles from the rest may not be worth it.

There's so much random trash down here, digging in and finding even more is kinda frustrating. It'll be nice when it's all cleaned out though!
 
Benedict Bosco
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Related: I took the old tires down to a local tire shop, and they're disposing of them for me. The scrap metals I loaded up and took down to the county recycler; ended up getting a decent chunk of change for it (some of it was copper, that fetched a pretty penny, the rest wasn't worth so much).
 
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