This is what it looks like when a sewer pipe has to be dug out because it's broken. The pipe in this trench was terra-cotta and probably original to the house. It was broken, and the verkakte grass was feasting, which two facts meant that I really couldn't do much of anything in the front yard.
I am very grateful to our landlords for doing this. And glad, on behalf of the poor guy who did the digging, that the pipe was only about three feet down. Yikes, what a day's work.