I want to fix the grading of my backyard. I think that I have two options: a) remove the sod, grade the soil and put the sod back AND b) use a rototiller (rent it from HomeDepot) and turn the old sod over

I would like to go with b) because: -the existing sod is poor quality -there is less work involved to remove and put back -I understand that using a rototiller will also help me to aerate the soil, make it easier to be graded

To get my lawn back I can either buy sod or seed and wait for the grass to grow back. This should be easy with the wet summer that we are in for here in To.

Any pros and cons ?

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And here is a soil level picture

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  • Can you elaborate on what you mean by "fix the grading", including the area (acres), the magnitude of the grading, and whether you are removing soil, adding soil, or just moving it around? A rototiller is really a gardening tool, it won't really help you with moving earth around (other than maybe smoothing out ruts from a lawnmower). My general advice would be to ignore the grass and concentrate on the grading, then repair the grass (with seed or sod) when you're done.
    – Hank
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 23:25
  • My plan is to redistribute the soil. Next to the small three that you see in the picture is the corner of my patio that was fixed (raised). Now that corner is 23/8" higher that the line of concrete blocks that you see in the picture. I am planning to build a walkway where the two ladders are. That would be the reference level. From that quote I need to grade the soil toward the right side (bottom side of the above diagram) My question is more related to what problems could I have if I used b) and a rototiller. Are there any other options?
    – MiniMe
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 23:55
  • I just don't see what the grass has anything to do with it. I'm skeptical that you will be able to use a rototiller to do any meaningful movement of soil. If you are moving 2' of soil you will need heavy machinery or a huge amount of labor. No matter how you do this you will destroy the yard... just get it done and then reseed.
    – Hank
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 3:07
  • What's this difference between this question and the one on Gardening & Landscaping: gardening.stackexchange.com/q/19684/26?
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 3:24
  • Someone here can tell me about lot grading while someone there can tell me about adverse effects of turning over the existing sod ...
    – MiniMe
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:34

1 Answer 1


I have not had a good experience with tilling an existing lawn. The existing grass does not get shredded completely but will form lumps that make for an uneven surface. Depending on how much top soil you have, you may bring out a lot of sand and rocks. Even a small electric tiller can go as deep as 6-8 inches. If your top soil is not at least 12 inches, it will be a long and labor-intensive process to get back your lawn without spreading additional screened loam.

What a landscaper will do with a bobcat (as I have just observed in my neighbor's yard) is

  • scrape off the sod and discard
  • try to salvage as much loam as possible and dump it on a pile that is out of the way
  • grade the land as desired
  • re-spread the loam, and add new loam if needed
  • reseed

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