I have a low spot in my yard that I want to fill in. It is an 8' diameter spot that is about 4"- 6" lower than the surrounding grass. The grass in this spot it mostly dead from this being a small pond for an extended period of time.

The two options I've seen are 1 - Add an inch at a time and let the grass come through. 2 - Use a sod cutter to remove the grass, add soil, and re lay the sod.

Since there is not much grass option one really won't work. My question is around option 2. If I don't care about the grass is it ok to just cover it or do I have to remove it first? I'd rather not rent a sod cutter if I don't have to.

  • Do you need to rent a sod cutter, you should be able to cut it with a shovel?
    – Viv
    Mar 21, 2016 at 22:06
  • 2
    @Viv or a spade.
    – Stephie
    Mar 21, 2016 at 22:45
  • What's the cause of the low spot? If it's decay of the roots of a cut down tree, it may well not be done sinking yet. If that's the case, till the grass in it, build a mound of dirt, and let that settle over a period of months. Level, then seed. Mar 22, 2016 at 2:34

3 Answers 3


Cut it into strips with a sharp spade, roll it up and level out the soil. Then relay the original turf, or if you have spare change then buy some new turf. Actually, you might want to relay the original grass and see if it recolonizes the space. If not, there may be a bigger problem that's causing the turf to die.


Don't worry about it. Just cover the old grass with your fill dirt. I'd personally use something either rich, like compost, or mix some cheaper dirt with the rich compost.

Bring it a little higher than the surrounding ground, because we all know from potting that dirt settle a little over time. You can offset this some by watering the dirt as you put it down, just like when planting a tree to remove air pockets. You can just plant your new grass on top, seed/plug/sod, and water it in.

If you watered the soil in as you put it down, you can bring it to ground level when using sod, because it has a couple inches of height on it's own and you want to be level with the rest of the ground.

The old grass will just break down and turn into fertilizer.


If its only four to six inches lower, I'd be inclined to remove the existing sod - you don't need a special tool to do it, you can just do it with a spade or even a half moon edger, if you don't want to hire a machine. Whilst the sod that's there might not cause too many problems, it's probably compacted and may mean poor drainage for quite a long time, not good for new grass. I'd also only top up with good quality topsoil because its hard to guess how much a lot of organic material is going to shrink down over time. Once you've lifted the sod, spread the soil over, leave it slightly proud and then wait a week or two to allow for settlement. I recommend this because its very difficult to get new sod level with surrounding, existing sod, and waiting a while before you attempt it gives you the best chance to get it level.

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