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Quick back story: we had a house built and the front and side yards had sod included. We opted not to pay for sod in the back and just had it seeded. However, the builder didn't add any top soil to bring it up to the same level as ours or our neighbors sod so our back yard grade is about an inch lower.

It is a muddy mess in some places because the neighbor's sprinkler runs off into our yard and the the seed has been washed out so it is growing only in random patches in the yard. Other parts are barren because the soil is sandy and hard. The grass that has sprouted is still pretty tender and small.

My question is, can I lay sod down over top of the existing seed/straw and in some cases new grass to bring the the yard up to level with the side yard and neighbors yard or should I try to remove the existing straw/seed/grass first before laying the new sod? I'd assume at a minimum I'd need to rake up the straw first.

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    I would think that existing sprouts will die if you cover them with sod. The dead sprouts and the straw will break down and provide some nutrients for the new lawn. Just like compost, but an inch down. I'm no expert, but I can't really see anything wrong with the idea. Make sure the straw is spread evenly - clumps will leave bumps in the sod and when it decomposes it will leave holes that the soil above will sink into.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 7, 2022 at 19:25
  • New sod will probably kill the new grass, so you will be wasting the cost of seed and labour, but besides that should be able to just lay the sod down as is.
    – crip659
    Apr 7, 2022 at 19:27
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    Question is better suited here gardening.stackexchange.com Apr 7, 2022 at 19:29
  • @PlatinumGoose thanks, I didn't know about that one. I'll use that in the future.
    – Andrew
    Apr 7, 2022 at 21:11
  • Aside - if you do this, consider weedkilling the old grass first, which will kill any lurking weeds. Wait a week before laying your fresh ready-lawn on top.
    – Criggie
    Apr 8, 2022 at 9:27

2 Answers 2

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Sure. The sod doesn't much care what organic material it's installed over. The new grass and straw will decompose with time.

Be aware that sod isn't a magic bullet. It won't grow over poor quality soil much better than the seed would have. You really want at least 4-6" of topsoil under any lawn.

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Clover lawn.

There is not that much dirt in sod. It wont provide a lasting increase in elevation. Plus the dirt underneath stays poor. I learned this by trying to lay sod on concrete. It works for a few months.

How about this idea.

1: Get a bunch of yard waste, leaves, mulch etc. Ideally collect from neighborhood, or get a truckload delivered.

2: Till it into your sandy hard soil with a roto tiller or with a spade if you are feeling strong.

3: Seed lawn with clover. All the new organic matter will make soil nitrogen poor but clover likes that. You can buy clover seed for clover lawns on line. I had great luck with crimson clover but it is an annual. Or an annual might be good if you don't want a forever clover lawn.

  1. If you keep a clover lawn, great. If not, let the crimson clover finish up then turn it in and seed with grass. Your soil will be conditioned with a season of organic matter and clover roots. It will be higher because of all the stuff you added. Your grass will be happy. Your neighbor can keep watering it for you.

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