When I bought my house ~3 years ago, the backyard was being watered by hand even though it has a sprinkler system. The sprinklers had no supply line.

EDIT: What I mean is, the supply line delivers no water. The stop & waste in the front turns on the water for the sprinklers in the front yard, but the back doesn't get water. It could be a missing shutoff (which I've tried like the dickens to find) or a broken line under the driveway so it was just disconnected. Either way, the supply line runs under lots of concrete, so my best option is just to run a new line.

Fast forward to now, my backyard is a layer of weeds, holes dug by my dog and piles of dirt. There is also a roughly 2x2 foot pad of concrete in the middle of the yard I want to remove. The sprinklers run throughout the yard are still usable.

I have sprayed the yard once with roundup killing all the weeds. That leaves me with a very uneven yard w/ sprinklers in it and a lot of dead weeds.

I'm not sure what my best options are from here. Should I pull/dig out the dead weeds, or would leaving them in place while leveling be an ok option. The soil where I live is very rocky so any type of digging is always a huge pain. What is the best type of tool I should rent to get this job done as easily as I can? I was thinking of using a bobcat. (Renting from Ace Rents or Timp Rental).

Caveats are:

  1. I don't want to destroy the sprinkler system already in the ground.
  2. I would like to get rid of the 2x2' concrete pad.

I have called 811 a had the utilities marked. Nothing obstructing us there.

After I've leveled the ground, is there anything special I need to do to prepare for sod? Any special care after it's been laid?

I originally was thinking I would rototill the yard (as suggested reading Can my lawn be saved or is it time to dig it up and re-sod?) but I don't want to destroy my sprinklers.

I currently have a chain link fence between my yard and the neighbors yard on the side with the other 3 side surrounded by concrete. The neighbors yard is not well taken care of and I worry about weeds coming over from there. I would like to put in a concrete strip and a new fence then roughly 3 feet of veggie garden space along the length of that side plus another concrete strip to separate it from the grass.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to get it done before winter, so at this point I need a plan of attack for ASAP after thaw in the spring.

  • If the sprinkler system has not been connected, how do you know the lines were properly installed, leveled and graded (in other words, worth leaving in place)?
    – GeneJ
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 2:47
  • That is very odd to not have the sprinklers connected. With out knowing all of the circumstances, is there a chance that there is a shutoff that has been forgotten about? Maybe a freeze broke a line awhile back and never was fixed? I would start by trying to get this working, that way all of your tearing up your yard is done before you get a lawn in place. Once you get this done you can turn on the sprinklers and mark all of the heads and just go around them with the bobcat. The pipes should be run deep enough that it shouldn't be a concern, just have to watch out for the heads.
    – Kellenjb
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 0:58
  • @kellenjb and I wasn't clear about the sprinklers. I guarantee that it's a missing shutoff. I've hooked up the manifold from the hose and tested the sprinkler lines. All is well on that side. Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


Marking the sprinkler heads and making sure the system is working before installing the sod is a good idea. So is renting a bobcat, in this case unless you have a couple of acres, a baby bobcat will do the trick. Use the bucket to remove the 2x2 concrete pad - these machines make this kind of task easy work. Also, removing the weeds and any undesireable subsoil, leveling out the dog-built holes (I sympathize) will all go more smoothly. Sprinkler systems can be repaired with leak detection and flow a quick service by most experts. Make sure you lay down at least 2 to 4 inches of good top soil before laying in your sod. Keep the sod "squishy wet" until well-established (a few days.) You will be most pleased at the transformation. I would keep your dog off the new lawn as well until after the sod is well-established.


To lay sod, you need to get rid of the current turf. You can use a sod cutter for that or just get a skid-steer and scrape it all off.

Once the old turf is off, you can now lay down new quality top soil, adding any amendments required.

Till it in, level it, then lay down the new sod. Roll the new sod and then water.

As for the sprinklers, I'd have those looked at after you take off the old sod. Might as well fix it then before putting thew new sode down.

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