Save the sod or replace


LawnSite Senior Member
DFW area
I'm raising a portion of my backyard between 4 and 6 inches to improve drainage and "recover a garden area". I'm doing this job by myself!

The area in question is currently 1/2 covered (about 600 sq ft) in very healthy Del Mar St. Augustine and the other half will be new dirt where I've removed a large garden.

The soil is sandy and relatively easy to cut. It's currently moist down to 6-8 inches. I hand dug about 50 feet of new trench to split and expand the sprinkler zone in a couple hours.

I'm already planning to order more sod for here and another area and am going back and forth on my options. I'm planning that I can take 2-3 days to lay the sod after delivery given the cool temps this time of year.

I'll be adding more dirt than the St. Augustine will grow through and my wife doesn't want to be patient to allow the yard to "heal". She wants green when I'm finished. I've done the plugging and "half sod checker board" in the past which has worked well but she just doesn't want to be patient on this area so I'm committed to "green when done".

Our local Home Depot rents this Classen 18" sod cutter. I'll also need to rent a trailer. I estimate I can get the job done in a 4 hour period but am figuring worst case a day.

I've watched videos on using the cutter and it doesn't look like it's a big deal to use.

Here's my options as I see them -

Option 1 is to just bring in the dirt, level out the yard, and re-sod the entire area

Option 2 is to bring in half the dirt, raise and level the old garden area, cut the existing sod and move it to the newly raised and leveled area, bring in the rest of the dirt and re-sod the other half.

The difference in price after figuring in the rental costs is less than $200, probably closer to $150 based on time to cut up the existing sod (Del Mar St. Augustine is more expensive around here). I should mention that I'd have to cross the "newly sodded garden" portion of the lawn to get the additional fill dirt and purchased sod to the second half of the lawn in option 2. I'm not too concerned as I can either lay down a trail of 4x8's and or just leave a path.​

QUESTION - I'm not sure the "beating" and time to rent the cutter and move the sod is worth $200. However, Option 2 leaves me a bit more flexibility in timing and laying the new sod. How much of a beating are these machines and what would YOU do in this case?

Remember, I'm already ordering sod so I'm eating the delivery cost regardless and I'm a 1 man crew ;)
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LawnSite Silver Member
Kansas City
Option 1... keep it simple. If you don’t wet down the sod you are going to cut to the right amount, it will be a real PITA, I would save the rental $ and buy extra sod/ dirt instead.

Best case is you work harder and achieve a decent result, worst case is you spend extra $ on a rental, the sod is too dry when you cut it and you end up with a bunch of useless chunks of sod, and need to buy more etc... Not worth the risk


LawnSite Senior Member
DFW area
Thanks, and my original post should say 2x8's, not 4x8's :) BTW, the yard is very moist. I can "easily" cut up small areas of sod using a flat edging spade.

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