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My yard was installed when the prior owners built our house a dozen years ago. They did a decent job with the landscaping and yard. The problem is that some areas of the yard have settled and I'd like to "fill" those areas in without redoing too much of the yard.

The most obvious place where this has happened is where the water main comes into the house. If you look closely, you can see that the yard has a small "dip" in it the entire run from the house to the street where that pipe runs. The dip is small enough that it seems like a speed bump when pushing a lawn mower over it and never looks just right when mowed.

I'd like to fill in this dip or trench without needing to reseed the whole area, because the grass is fine on top; it's just not level.

Can I just add topsoil slowly so the existing grass will continue to grow? Or do I need to dig up the existing grass like sod and add new dirt underneath the existing root structure?

Is there anything else I can do?

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You may additionally wish to take a look here on SE: How to fill low spots over existing grass in my yard? –  Mike Perry Sep 15 '11 at 5:01
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3 Answers 3

I would just use lawn sand or sandy soil. If the hollow is very deep then you could do it with successive treatments, but it sounds like you might be able to get away with one.

The sand is relatively fine and not lumpy so the grass easily grows through it. It is also easier to level.

We recently moved excess top soil to fill in a large (wide & shallow) hollow, but this had quite a bit of lump clay and turf clumps. Helped with a hoe, it has flattened out and the grass is now growing over it, but it is definitely far from a professional job! I'm hoping it will settle and even out over the next year.

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Would your recommendation change any if the unevenness was a result of compaction (say horse traffic) rather than settling? The horse traffic has stopped and I don't need a quick solution (0-5 years is fine by me). –  patridge Jun 15 '11 at 21:27
    
If it is very compact, would it be an idea to try and aerate it first? A fork or a spiking machine (I don't know the name, either!) could be used. –  winwaed Jun 15 '11 at 21:31
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I have had limited success with peeling back the turf and adding topsoil underneath.

I cut three sides of a rectangle with a spade and rolled back the turf. It can be awkward if there are weeds with roots that go deeper than the grass's. It does leave a scar in the lawn, which will take a little while to recover. I suppose you could put seed down on the scar, I've not tried that so I can't comment on the success.

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We had deep ruts in our lawn from when we had a tree service remove a dead/dying mature mulberry tree. I aerated the lawn every spring (+fall if we had a lot of rain). Then I rolled the law with a lawn roller after every heavy rain. Over a couple of years the ruts steadily became smaller and eventually disappeared.

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