Dear Angie: My neighbor and I have sunken areas in our yards, apparently caused by the builder burying leftover building materials, which have been decomposing since 1988. How can we once again have level lawns?
— Lawrence Lau, Westport, Conn.
Dear Lawrence: If looking at your yard gives you a sinking feeling, don't get depressed. There are manageable ways to deal with a dip or sunken spot.
Top-rated landscapers tell our team that yard settling can occur when items are buried, but more common causes of lawn depressions include:
■ Natural settling after a stump is removed
■ Erosion and drainage issues
■ Sewer link leaks or ruptures
The general fix is to fill the area — good fill choices include soil, compost or rocks — and leave it slightly humped, to accommodate natural settling. Or, you can compact it by machine or with a hand tamper.
In a case like yours, where decomposition is the problem, it's wise to move all buried material before filling, to prevent further settling.
When the hole is filled, allow time for settling, and then seed and fertilize. Keep soil relatively loose to help grass roots develop.
Depending on the size and scope of the problem, and your own capacity and budget, you might want to try filling the sunken spot yourself.
If you decide to hire a landscaper, check the company's reputation and make certain it's properly licensed and insured. Also, be sure you understand what materials and equipment will be used and get all project details in writing, including cost, timetable and any work guarantees.
Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at email@example.com.