The Q&A Archives: Sink Holes in Yard

Question: I have a grassy sink hole in my rear corner of my back yard. In 1985 the builder dug a 30-foot diameter, 20-foot deep hole and buried tree stumps, wood scraps, etc. We have filled the hole 3 times since 1987. It has sunk another 2-3 feet since the last filling. Is there some type of shrub or plant we could use to cover the sink hole or at least hide it from the rest of the yard? I do not want to fill it again because I feel it will continue to sink as time passes. I have thought of planting butternut squash in the sink hole and just mulching the rest of the hole. It has become very difficult to mow.

Answer: This is a common problem. People bury huge amounts of organic matter like stumps, forgetting (or ignoring) the fact that as this organic matter decomposes, the area will collapse. You could plant pumpkins or squash, but that wouldn't help much during the winter. If the area stays moist year round, you might consider planting an area of moisture-loving shrubs like pussy willow and red twig dogwood. Birds would love the new habitat and the shrubby growth would hide the hole. These shrubs are deciduous, but would provide some screening. If you want more complete screening, opt for evergreens.

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