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Utility Company Destroyed My Yard

Having utility companies or subcontractors tear up your yard with a backhoe can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare especially once you have put time, effort, and money into creating a beautiful landscape. But when does the gas company need to replace a pipe, or does a cable company (AT&T) need to bury cable? These companies may legally dig up your lawn under utility easement agreements.

This can leave tire tracks, a rut, holes, and damaged asphalt or landscaping in their wake. So, if any utility company may have damaged your garden, what action can you take if the damage is not repaired immediately?

While utility companies have legal access to their underground infrastructure, if these lines must be repaired, that doesn’t mean you have to accept damage to your property. You can take steps to have the utility company repair the ditch or compensate you for the damage.

In our guide, you can learn more about what you can do if the water company leaves your yard in a mess. By the end, you’ll better understand your rights, where to call, and how they can at least try to minimize any damage. (Learn How To Put Out Solo Stove)

Utility company may have damaged your yard

What Rights Do Utility Companies Have?

Utility companies like gas, electric, internet (fiber optic cable), phone, and water co are granted an easement, also called a right-of-way, on private property. This allows them access to maintain, repair a sewer, or install new PVC pipes or utility lines and equipment.

It is usually a strip of land 6 to 10 feet wide that could be across your front yard but can sometimes be larger.

Utility easements are often in the front or backyard along the property line. They may run along the street, sidewalk, or driveway.

The utility company has the right to dig and access their heavy equipment, even if it damages your lawn, garden, driveway, or other landscaping, as it passes the rest of the way to your home.

Should I Contact The Utility Company About The Damage?

You should contact the utility company if they cause significant damage to your property while accessing utility lines. Even though they technically have the right to dig up your yard, most utility companies try to minimize damage as a courtesy.

Describe the extent of the damage and ask if they plan to repair or compensate you for repairs.

Often, the utility company’s policy is to rake and reseed a bare grass lawn after digging. They may not take responsibility for repairing special landscaping, trees, shrubs, gardens, etc.

It’s worth contacting them to see if you can restore the damage to its original condition. The utility company may be able to help and willing to work with you, send a contractor to make repairs or provide reasonable compensation via a check to cover the damage. (Read Is It Bad To Have Possums In Your Yard)

Underground Utility Lines damaged your Yard

What To Do If A Utility Company Won’t Fix The Damage?

If contacting the utility company directly does not resolve the issue, you may need to take further action:

  • File a complaint: Most states have a public service commission or utility regulatory agency you can complain to. They can help facilitate a resolution if the utility company is unresponsive.
  • Contact your insurance: Homeowners’ insurance may cover damage caused by utility work. You would need to pay your deductible, but they may reimburse the cost of repairs.
  • Take legal action: You can take the utility company to small claims court if the damage runs across your front lawn and isn’t repaired. The easement does not allow them to destroy your property without compensation.
  • Withhold payment: If you have an outstanding bill with the utility company, you could withhold payment until the damage is repaired to your satisfaction. Make sure to document everything first.
  • File a claim: If the utility company uses a contractor that causes damage, get their information and file an insurance claim. They may be liable for negligence in causing excessive damage.

How Can I Prevent Damage To My Yard?

While you can’t entirely prevent utilities from digging up your yard, there are some things you can try to minimize damage:

  • Talk to the utility company about their plans when you are notified of work being done. See if adjustments can be made.
  • Clearly mark property lines and easement boundaries so they only dig where necessary.
  • Ask them to hand dig around trees, gardens, and valuable plantings.
  • Request a fence or bright marking around work areas to limit accidental damage.
  • Avoid planting too close to property lines where utilities may run. Leave extra space.
  • Use protective ground cover like pavers or stone over utility lines instead of planting.
  • Install irrigation lines and heads to avoid proposed utility trenches if possible.
  • Take pictures before and after work is done to document any damage.
  • Follow up frequently for updates and to check the progress of the work.

Who Is Responsible For Marking Underground Utility Lines?

Before digging, utility lines must be marked by calling 811. When you call 811, they notify all applicable utility companies about the planned work. The utilities mark their underground lines, typically with spray paint or flags. The homeowner should also mark any known lines.

The utility company would be responsible for repairs if a line is hit because it wasn’t appropriately marked. Ensure underground utilities or gas lines are clearly marked before approving trenching, post-installation, tree planting, etc. Remember, never allow digging without calling 811 first.

What If My Neighbor’s Utility Work Damaged My Property?

If your neighbor has utility work done and the utility or its contractor damages your yard or property, your neighbor may be responsible for repairs. Utilities have easement rights on the property where they are working. This doesn’t exempt them from negligence that harms adjacent properties.

Talk to your neighbor and ask them to have their contractor fix the damage. If they refuse, gather evidence and take them to court. You would need to prove the contractor working on their property directly caused damage to your property. (Read Neighbors Water Flooding My Yard)

Hiring help to repair utility damage

Who Can I Hire To Repair My Yard After Utility Damage?

You have a few options for hiring help to repair utility damage:

  • Landscaping company: Most full-service landscape companies can handle repairs like regrading, laying sod, planting trees and shrubs, repairing irrigation, etc.
  • Grading/excavation contractor: If there is significant ground disruption, you may need major regrading, fill dirt delivery, leveling, etc.
  • Sod farm or nursery: For help with large-scale sod, grass seeding, or plant replacement.
  • Irrigation specialist: Hire an expert if underground lines are broken or heads damaged.
  • Fencing contractor: For fence repairs or complete replacement if necessary.
  • Arborist: If mature trees are damaged, an arborist can assess and properly treat them.
  • Handyman: For minor repairs like filling holes, replacing edging, and minor landscaping.

Be sure to get multiple quotes to submit the expenses to your insurance or take legal action. Paying out of pocket may be necessary if you want repairs done immediately.


In conclusion, you have options if a utility company damages your property while accessing easements. I’d start by contacting the utility company directly to repair the damage. If they are unable to help or refuse, file a complaint with the state regulatory agency.

You may also file a claim with your insurance company to cover the cost of repairs. If those options fail, take legal action against the utility company for compensation in small claims court.

With persistence, you should be able to get your yard fixed or receive compensation for the damage caused by the utility work. Don’t let them leave a big mess without holding them accountable. (Learn How Long Does Parvo Live On Surfaces)


Can I prevent the utility company from accessing my yard?

You can’t prohibit them from using utility easements on your property.

What if a subcontractor damages my subdivision?

File a claim against the subcontractor’s insurance for negligence.

Who marks underground utility lines?

You and the utility companies must mark lines by calling 811 before digging.

What if repair work hits my water main?

The utility company would fix the damage and repair your water line.

How wide is a utility right of way?

Typically 6-10 feet, but can sometimes be larger.

Can I be compensated for damaged pavement?

You can receive compensation for damage to the driveway, sidewalks, etc.

Utility Company Destroyed My Yard