I dug out all the dead grasses from my backyard after the patio was installed. It leaves about 700 sq ft for new sod. Because of the slope of my backyard I also would like to raise the lawn by a couple inch (approx. 4 - 5 inch) to make it more even for the lawn. There are couple different type of soil to choose from: screened topsoil, 50/50 compost/soil mix, or peat loam. Some sod farm companies recommend 50/50 compost/soil mix, some state that a regular screened topsoil is good enough, or either go for peat loam. It seems that 50/50 compost mix has a lot of benefits (e.g. reduce erosion. breaks up clay soils and so on) but it costs more than screened topsoil. Which one should I use to build this soil foundation before the new sod put on?


  • Do the recommendations from sod farm companies vary according to which type of grass the sods comprise?
    – Bamboo
    Jul 5, 2017 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Make sure you allow for at least 1- 2% slope away from the home. I vote for soil that is closest to what you have. Especially on a slope. I would use a shovel and dig and turn over the soil you have allow to dry. Clay makes great soil for lawns that aren't going to be used for sports? Compost plus soil is nice but you won't ever know what is in that soil such as pesticide residue, insects, weed seeds. I would not worry about getting a lot of exotic soil. I'd get the shovel and have one yard of decomposed organic matter spread over the 750 sq. ft @4" deep. Then just dig and turn dig and turn. Allow to dry.

Then I would add an inch of screened topsoil. Rake/grade and ROLL with a water filled roller you can rent. Rake/grade and Roll again. Perhaps again...mark the exact lines for the edge of your lawn, always stay with one radius until you need to change the curve. You can change the radius with each curve just no compound curves.

Lay the sod so the length is perpendicular to the rise in height. After laying and cutting your sod, roll your sod with that roller again going in different directions.

In choosing a soil get the closest to match your own soil. Don't add sand or gypsum or lime. Don't use PEAT. Peat is very acidic. Lawns like neutral to slightly alkaline. Peat is also a finite resource that is threatened...sigh. Dig a trench all around your defined edges...6"X6". Read a bunch of stuff on how to train and grow a lawn that we have right here on this site.

  • Question: You would need to have 9.25 yards to have compost 4"deep on a 750 square foot space. 1 cubic yard would only cover 740 square feet at 7/16". So, which is it, do we want 1 yard total, which would not even cover 750 square feet @ 7/16", or 9.25 yards, so the compost is 4" deep?
    – John
    Mar 21, 2022 at 13:17

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