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Question DetailsAsked on 9/14/2016

How do I correctly fill a large (roughly 60 ft by 30ft, 25ft deep) former gravel pit on my property?

A few feet from the edge of our driveway, it slopes very steeply down into our gully. It's too steep to walk down any side and so the entire gully is totally unusable for us. The gully is filled with trees scattered throughout and nature has reclaimed it over the last 80+ years. We'd like to make that land usable but we want to do it the right way and not shoot ourselves in the foot and create a disaster later.

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2 Answers


Because of the quantity of fill, likely to require a building permit and assessment by your local planning and zoning department to see if you need any environmental permits, so your best bet is to go to a Civil Engineering firm (not an Angies List category) that specializes in property development engineering and permitting so you don't dump 1700CY or so of material in there just to find you have to take it back out again because it was wetlands, a riparian stream channel (which does not have to have running water year around), or other violations.

You also need a specification for the fill so you don't just get junk fill or land clearing debris or contaminated soil delivered on the cheap (say free or a couple $/CY as opposed to the $5-12/CY likely cost for proper general fill), and it should have proper subdrainage and surface drainage and eorsion and sediment control so it does not become a bog or have erosion problems. Engineer can provide plans and specs for that.

Note you are talking roughly (from your dimensions) 1700CY in-place, so probably about $12,000-25,000 ballpark number just for the tree removal (necessary to prevent future settlement as the vegetative matter decays away) and the backfilling - without any engineering or permitting costs (commonly another $1000-2000) or environmental mitigation measures.

A common solution for this type of thing because of the costs involved, while still taking into account the need to adhere to environmental regulations in doing any modifications/ improvements, and depending somewhat on the amount of sun exposure you get to the area (which might be good or bad depending on your climate): put in a spiral or curving path snaking down into it (commonly with oversize pavers notched into the hillside but can be gravel or stone path - with railroad ties and crushed stone if needs steps), a limited pad of crushed stone or gravel fill in or alongside the bottom (with appropriate measures to handle any runoff it carries) to level off a play/sitting/picnic/barbecue (depending on fire hazards in your locale) area, maybe put in a yard/picnic table or a couple of circular around-tree benches and a hammock and maybe a treehouse for the kids, and turn it into your personal preserve - with only limited vegetation removal as needed to increase sunlight exposure. Some people go the other route and build a patio or a deck (near edge or overhanging) along one edge overlooking the gully and leave it wild (with judicious undergrowth and noxious plant removal) as an overlook area.

Slope plantings with shrubs, ground covers, etc optional taking into account your climatic conditions and how much care the plantings will need, and risks of noxious plants or dangerous animals (snakes,skunks, stinging insects, etc) taking up habitation if you make it too lush and protected. And of course if in fire danger area, consider how much vegetation control is needed to provide proper protection for structures from wildfire.

Also consider in your plan whether what you do with it may make it an attractive nuisance for neighborhood kids or vagrants or such.

One other option occasionally done if there are no environmental issues (no stream or such) - clear it out and fill the bottom as needed with structural fill, and install an in-ground pool - which reduces the amount of fill needed by 1/3 - 2/3 roughly, depending on whether pool comes to surrounding grade or is left down in a depression in the yard. Of course, not cheaper - between the need for highly compacted structural fill under/around the pool and the cost of a pool itself, but is an upgrade some people want.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



This is Erick in Member Care. Thanks for your interest in Angie's List!

We'll be happy to help find top rated providers to assist with filling your pit, but it doesn't look like you have a subscription to the List yet. You can join by visiting or by giving us a call. Our call center is available 8:00 am-9:00 pm weekdays and 8:00-5:00 pm ET on Saturdays.

Thanks for your question and we look forward to assisting you!

Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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