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Tree trouble

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I am looking for some advise.
After all the paving and renovation in back yard was done (and WE thought we could SIT AND enjoy) we were suddenly faced by a sink hole. Were there used to be a tree.
It was a huge tree, taken down 3 years ago. Stump was then grinded, we flattened the soil and it was paved over. Untill now! the pavers have caved in (thank god nobody got hurt). We now see what looks like tunnels. Also some old bricks that we did not put there, so now we're wondering how did this tree get caved in that bad after barely 3 years already and where are these tunnels coming from? there is no obvious tree rot going on.. Needless to say thta it does need to get filled in or removed in order for us to pave again and be safe. Removing we don't see as an option really because of all the paving and levels (small steps etc.) we have in the back and my DH back (hernia!) Soooooo.....................any ideas.......any body??????

Thumbnail by TulipLady
Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Here's another slightly different angle

Thumbnail by TulipLady
Sparta , TN(Zone 7a)

possable the roots that belong to the tree . and critters ate the roots and thus the void fill in pach well repave should have no more issues.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

That you found some bricks not a part of your construction is a concern. It could be a "builder hole", a method used by some builders to bury construction debris. It's illegal but common years ago when Atlanta suburbs were booming. Some builders would clear trees and take down old structures and then bulldoze a big hole to bury the junk. No hauling and landfill fees. I'd have it checked out carefully. We have one in our back yard and threatened the builder with legal action. He came back and a crew spent two days filling it. A few years later it was sunken in again and he is out of business. Fortunately it's back in our woods and not very visible any more.

Sparta , TN(Zone 7a)


I forgot about that had few buddys talking about in the service their folks had purchased places that were having problems like that .

Newnan, GA(Zone 7b)

If she's in old Atlanta there's no telling what it could be ... Tulip Lady, are you in the 'burbs or in Atlanta proper?

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I'm in Dunwoody. North Atlanta. Our neighborhood is fairly "old", this house was built in '69.
Sgt. Yates, if these tunnels were made by critters I think I want to get the hec outahere!!!! LOL
We're thinking of filling it in since removing seems more trouble than it's worth for us. The trunk is still as hard as rock, we don't even know where to begin. And here we were thinking that the backyard is finally done... what was I thinking???

Laurel, I'm so sorry to hear abour your father too. I know he was ill for while. It's strange, how you can be expecting it and yet it comes as a shock when it really happens. I hope for both that they will be at peace now.


Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Thanks Coby (about Dad). I went down to Miami when he became ill and cared for him at home until he passed four months later. It was a gift to share that time with him.

About your holes...they were made by rotting debris but chipmunks and rats will use them as opportunistic housing. Then snakes move in to dine. You might want to get some advice from the city building dept. if you are not sure of the cause. Plumbing companies use scopes to visualize underground pipes and maybe someone can check your holes and see how serious they are if needed. The hole will continue to sink as the tree rots if it's left.

Sparta , TN(Zone 7a)

termites eating the roots... could not think of them list night lol so put critters. ;) but back in the late 60 builders did dig holes and bury stuff. however, with a tree being removed the roots of such a large tree would be that size and after 3 years termites and other insects could have eaten them by now the ground dirt looks very black like compost dirt leading me to think that is what happend...


Newnan, GA(Zone 7b)

I believe Sgt. Yates may be spot on. Rotting tree roots and insects would definitely make for all that good looking soil. A hole that deep should be showing some of our Georgia red clay and there doesn't seem to be any.

I was thinking if you were in an old Atlanta neighborhood, built in the '30s and '40s, it could be old sewer pipes or some kind of excavation (even an old Civil War bunker). But Dunwoody in '69 is rather "new." And the soil is so rich looking I think I'm going to agree with the rotted tree theory. Whatever, I know you'll be glad when you can get it filled in and go on with enjoying your back yard.

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

All of the above makes sense. Yes indeed the soil is rather dark grey. Problem (worry) also is that were that tree was, is where a French drain ( crawl space basement) comes out. The roots will have gone under a slab of concrete small patio like in front of basement. I hope this is not going to be a disaster!!!
Here's a photo of area BEFORE landscaping. That small tree is still there. Just of the right of that used to be the big tree. You can still see some of the roots where the retaining wall was created. Those were taken out.

Thumbnail by TulipLady
Sparta , TN(Zone 7a)


that Small tree could come back and bite you in the back side later. I hate to say it but it could . as with any sapling that has the potential of growing to a LG tree It could reck the patio .

removal is up to you.

Now as for filling the void I would add fill dirt and spray water a little at a time filling the void working my way to the top stopping mid way to let it dry out over a few days not rushing it the slow filling will ensure the soil will not sink on you again in that area. useing dirt and some gravel to start will fill it quicker or you can use dirt only. your choice. top of with a fine dirt and set pavers as before. ; >)


Tuliplady, we found some very weird stuff next door. The lady who lived here took care for the most part. Next door is another story. Three more trees to come down there = no trees left out of at least 25 trees :( There are bricks tucked in by the roots where moles, voles, rats and chipmunks have dug. Sadly this entices more pests. We had a HUGE sink hole where one tree went down in a tornado 25 or so years ago. The stump was left to rot. It took me 6 years of filling to get it partly filled where I did not think I'd fall into a sink hole, and then we had it graded and massive fill put in the last year.
Hopefully you will have had all your roots rotted and are able to safely fill and replace your brick now. I am pretty sure there is some sort of tool that can measure soil voids. We had a plumber who had one, and that has helped us.


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