Propane Tank in the Garden, Revisited

My karate teacher was fond of saying, “When you think you know, you don’t know.” Add in the old saws about not believing everything you hear and looks being deceiving, and you’ll understand why we changed our minds about moving our propane tank. (See original post at

It turned out not to be all that expensive: $50 for a permit; $40 for two trenching tools; and $106 for the propane company to send two installers and a boom truck to swap out the old tank for a new one.

And we lucked out with the ledge --- we were able to dig down nearly a foot to create a new landing pad for the tank without hitting rock, even though the ledge juts out on either side of this spot. We dug and refilled the trench for the line to the house ourselves.

There was one moment of trepidation when the installers told me that the boom wouldn’t reach the new site unless I let them drive their monstrous truck into my lavender garden. I hesitated for a minute, but recognized that I hadn’t had them get this far just to scrap the whole idea. Besides, they had already removed the old tank!

So, nerves on edge, I watched as they set aside my flagstone edging and skillfully maneuvered the boom truck between my lavender plants. As it turned out, the bottom of the truck was so high off the ground that it didn’t even touch the tops of the plants. Good job, guys. I don’t have to replace a single plant.

The new tank is not without it’s own problems. Now, instead of the yellow submarine, I’ve got Moby Dick out front. And he’s got a big red logo and cap. There’s also a clear view of the narrow end of the tank from the back yard, so we still have design issues to overcome. BUT. We accomplished several of our goals.

First, by moving the tank, we don’t have to solve the problem of how to disguise the tank from above, since we can no longer see the top of it from the windows.

Second, even though the propane company felt it necessary to raise the tank higher than we would have liked, its profile is still lower than what the old one was, so we won’t see as much of it, even in the winter.

Third, we freed up a portion of the front yard that will increase the size of the lavender garden by about 40%. Since that section is not underlain by drainage material, we’ll be able to plant anything we want.

Fourth, the profile of the tank is now narrow enough that a low rock wall fronted by nearly any plant three feet or taller will hide it from view.

Remember, when you think you know, you don’t know. I have lived on this spot on and off for my entire life, and was absolutely certain that it was impossible to dig out a flat space of the size we needed without using dynamite. But once I became motivated enough to ask Dan to poke around with the crowbar and see what might be possible, we found that the perfect solution had been there all along.

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