Q: How do I level my yard when there is already a nice stand of grass? – Debbie, Oxnard, California

A: Roger Cook replies: When I first started in the business 25 years ago, there was a practice called top dressing, where you would put an inch or two of top soil on an existing lawn and expect the existing grass to grow through it. This is not practiced much any more. But there are a couple of things you can do. Top dress lightly with a mix of compost and sand to a depth of 1/2" maximum once a year. This light mix should allow the grass to grow through. If you have to raise the level several inches this will take a long time. Your second choice is to identify the low area, then rent a sod cutter; cut, roll, and stack the sod to the side; rotate the soil; add mix compost, top soil, and sand. Rotate soil again, level the area, and reinstall your own sod.
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