I recently moved into a new construction here this December, and since we have cold winters where I live, the builder was not going to do any landscaping for us.

What they did was spread some (very) rough top soil across the yard with the intention that it can be tilled and grass can be planted in Spring. In the meantime however I have a puppy that is having a very awkward and difficult time navigating the dirt to do his business when I let him out. He is refusing to go into the dirt and the thought of walking him across the street to go in my already unfriendly neighbors lawns isn't a good way to get on their good side. Plus I don't want to walk across the streets in below 0 weather with a cold puppy everytime he needs to go.

My question then is what can I realistically do about this craggy and unmanageable topsoil in my yard to smooth it over and make it easier for the puppy to walk across. Even if I can just do a small section it would be preferable.

  • Is it smooth enough that you could fill the valleys in a section with store-bought topsoil or sand, then put one of those imitation-grass training pads in that section?
    – Niall C.
    Dec 24, 2012 at 17:23
  • @NiallC. Let's put it this way... it is so rough that I could easily roll my ankle just by walking on it if I weren't being careful. Dec 24, 2012 at 17:30
  • you might find the puppy won't go onto it even if you level a small area for him - some animals just don't like mucky, wet, sticky open ground.
    – Bamboo
    Dec 29, 2012 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


If you are only needing to do a small area then try this. Go to a rental store and rent a sod kicker. The manual ones are maybe $10-$15 for a half day. With it you can scrape loose 2-3 inches of soil per pass. Then smooth you can smooth it with a metal rake. I have graded small areas like this. Even if it doesn't work like you want, its cheap and worth a try.

  • Thank you... I never knew what a sod kicker was until you pointed it out to me. I might give this a try when the snow melts. Dec 27, 2012 at 21:22

You can always buy turf, dirt or a lot of mulch to cover the rough gravel/topsoil. Obviously, you can't trespass on your neighbor's yard or grow grass from seed now in your zone 6/7 in the winter. It's going to take money.

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