Asked on Feb 14, 2019

How do I fill large holes in the yard?

by Beverly

We are moving into a home where the previous owner had dogs that loved to dig. There are deep holes all through the yard. Can anyone help with how to fill holes in a yard so they won’t sink again when it rains?

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  13 answers
  • Fill them up with dirt or soil. They will continue to sink until such time as soil becomes as compacted as the surrounding area.

  • Alice Alice on Feb 14, 2019

    Fill the hole with fill soil to within 1 inch of ground level, using a garden spade or scoop shovel. Mix together equal parts fill dirt and compost with a garden fork. The amount of fill dirt and compost you need depends on the size of the hole.

  • Ellis Ellis on Feb 14, 2019

    When I've filled holes in the yard, I've always put in some topsoil, then tamped down (there's a tool for this), then added more topsoil, repeat the tamping, etc. Invariably, rain and time settles the soil, and I've always needed to add more. So if you have a lot of holes, you could get topsoil delivered by truck and have it dumped where you can take wheelbarrows of it to the yard, and keep some on hand for refilling the holes as they sink.

    The only other thing I can think of is to have the whole yard dug and leveled, adding topsoil as necessary.

  • Seth Seth on Feb 14, 2019


    The gravel will not prevent sinking. As suggested, you need to tamp the soil to match the surrounding areas. If a square tamping tool is to big or heavy for you to manage, take a length of scrap 2x4 and make it a comfortable length so you are not bending over to far. Use it to tamp the soil. You can also take to pieces the same length, screw them together and use them both at the same time, which will give you more tamping surface.

  • Cindy Cindy on Feb 14, 2019

    Hi Beverly. I'm Cindy. I would not put rocks in the holes. Sooner or later some will come to the surface. And you don't want your lawn mower to shoot out any rocks. It could be very dangerous and it might take chunks out of the lawn mower's blade. Fill the holes with fill dirt almost to the top. Then mix one part each of top soil, manure, and sand. Then mix in some grass seed and top the holes off with this mix. Keep them watered and you will see new grass in approx 6 weeks. Good luck Beverly.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jun 16, 2021

    Hi Beverly, we had a similar problem when we moved into our home years ago. Your best bet is to mix up some topsoil and sand and/or compost. Fill the holes and trample it down hard to compact as much as possible. Fill again and repeat. You may find a small indent after the first rains so save some of the soil mixture to repeat again.

  • We had an issue after we had our cesspool replaced. They left a deep hole over the old one. We just kept filling it with dirt and tamping it down. It would get wet and settle and we would add more dirt. It took about a full year of weather changes to fully settle.

  • Maura White Maura White on Jun 18, 2021

    Sounds like you just need to get more soil and fill the holes. You may have to do this more than once since the first fill will most likely compact down and you'll need to add some more later in the season. After that, then you can add grass seed and try to get your lawn back to normal again.

  • Annie Annie on Jun 20, 2021

    Find soil and fill the holes with this. Wait awhile as the soil will settle, then add more. Then you could sprinkle grass seed on top and water.

  • Have a landscaping supply company drop off a load of soil and refill the holes. It will settle so you might have to top off again after a year or so.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Dec 19, 2021

    If you can find fill dirt or good topsoil so you can fill these holes, tap them down and keep up the process after each rain. Plant grass seeds in the late fall or early spring so they can establish a good root system.

  • Sam Sam on Aug 25, 2022

    Depending on how deep the holes are, mitigating how much the fill material sinks over time can be done by tamping (soil should be very moist for best compaction), but tamping only reaches 2"-3" depth at a time, so you may need repeat "layers". Frequent heavy watering also speeds up compaction. Adding sand to your fill mixture will help in the long run, because soil breaks down (settles) over time, whereas sand remains stable. That's why sand is used to level golf turf. Yet, while soil compaction mitigates the problem of settling (sinking) over time, it creates a problem for new grass (which requires looser soil to grow well). I've had to make the same choice myself and would rather have healthy grass and adjust spots that settle later, versus grass that struggles to thrive in areas filled with highly compacted soil.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 30, 2023