I don't really have any knowledge in this area and I wanted to know your opinion. I want to enlarge my backyard and a contractor offers to grind all the trees on an area of ​​approximately 150x50ft. My land is elevated since my street is sloping.

My question is that the contractor wants to backfill with earth over all the ground trees, is it good to do this or the land will work over time?

  • Your location will matter to if you need permits to cut down the trees. Your location will also matter if the trees provide shade/wind blocking to your house. Losing tree shade can increase your power cost to cool the home or heating cost.
    – crip659
    Jan 26 at 22:07
  • What does "the land will work over time" mean? Also, I presume you mean that the tree company will cut down the trees and grind the stumps (so there is no stump left above grade). If that's what you mean, then that's quite common. They would need to over fill the stump holes slightly because the new fresh soil will settle over time and will create divots if it's only filled level to start with. If over filled, it will settle to more-or-less flat.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 26 at 22:30
  • Also, if you'll take the tour, and check the help center for what's OK to ask about and what's not, you'll note that opinion based questions are explicitly off topic, so starting out by asking for opinions gives you a good chance of getting your question closed very quickly.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 26 at 22:37
  • What are your ambitions for the space? Obviously not an in-ground pool. I actually dug out a stump once for a hot tub that sits at the spot now, but it felt a little foolish. We've all seen a 15 year old stump still holding fast. I suspect that when there's upwards of 6" of fill on top, the decomposition rate goes way down. Doesn't get that hot soil season in the summer and most microbe activity is in the top 6" (although maybe that's because there isn't a delicious stump down there typically). I'd take care to fill the craters with mineral soil. And keep a couple 10 ft to 20 ft snags.
    – popham
    Jan 26 at 23:25

1 Answer 1


Wood does not make good fill, as it will gradually break down (rot) and the surface will settle (sink) leaving you with not-level (or not sloped as it was) ground.

Thus, I'd tend to avoid a contractor who suggests that approach. Woodchips are fine for mulch.

  • OP said "the contractor wants to backfill with earth" not with the wood chips.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 26 at 22:31
  • 1
    You stopped your quote before "over all the ground trees" which puts the wood under the dirt.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 26 at 22:37
  • 1
    I read that as "grind the stumps, fill in the holes with dirt". I would ass-u-me that any reasonably competent tree contractor would shovel out whatever chips weren't scooped up by the grinder. Maybe that's a bad assumption... Point well taken.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 26 at 22:39
  • The title question is also indicative of fill on top of wood. One could hope the OP misunderstood their contractor, but I've seen some folks pull the "bury it, get paid, no longer my problem" approach to disposing of wood waste, and it often means te owner gets to dig the whole mess out and buy more fill. Usually they can't isolate the fill dirt from the rotten wood and have to replace all the fill dirt they bought before as well as buying fill dirt to replace the wood.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 26 at 23:02
  • Typically stumps are ground to below grade. Yes, there is typically some "wood" left behind—it'd take a lot of grinding ($) to get it all. That's what I understand the OP's contractor to have indicated—grinding to below grade, filling to grade with soil.
    – Huesmann
    Jan 27 at 13:59

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