How to raise the level of a sloped grassy area ?


We are getting a delivery of top soil . We are trying to raise the level of a sloped area in our yard . We are not trying to level it , we just don't want such a sharp slope . The area is grassy . We did this a few years ago in another part of the yard and for the most part it worked well , but there was some wash out and loss of soil . We are wondering , since we have a lot of twigs and small flat branches near by , if we lay those down , then put the soil on top , would it help with the soil retention ? We will be putting down grass seed as well .

  11 answers
  • Pat Pat on Jul 15, 2020

    Do you need a wall or a barrier of some kind to stop the dirt from washing away from the slope? Grass will help but how about a row of bricks or blocks or railroad ties as a barrier.

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    • Pamela Pamela on Jul 19, 2020

      Wow ! I hope it won't come to that ! We found a local landscape/ nursery that has " lawn " soil that looks great ! It is already mixed with some compost . Our slope doesn't need a retaining wall , we just want to build it up slightly , so we won't twist our ankle if you step off our sidewalk . i hope that by mixing this lawn soil with our sandy soil , then plant grass , Once the grass takes , the root system will help hold things together ??? Thanks for your answer !

  • Mogie Mogie on Jul 15, 2020

    We had a yard with a 4 foot slope which made mowing nearly impossible and severely limited our yard space. But the best solution we found was stacking/interlocking cement block.

    Not cinder blocks but cement blocks with a natural or rough face and a lip that allows you to stack them and interlock for stability at the same time.

    This made a HUGE difference.

    Here is a link where you can get an idea of how this looks.

    • Pamela Pamela on Jul 15, 2020

      Thanks ! I would love to do something like this , but it's against the HOA rules ...😕

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Jul 15, 2020

    I'm not sure what the sticks would accomplish. Do you need a retaining wall?

    • Pamela Pamela on Jul 15, 2020

      Thanks for responding ! I guess I should have stayed in my question , that I can't put up any type of retaining wall . I thought that the soil might hold up better with the sticks under it , giving the grass time to grow and help stabilize the area and eventually the sticks would breakdown into the soil underneath .😕

  • Nan W. Nan W. on Jul 15, 2020

    Sticks would biodegrade.

    • Pamela Pamela on Jul 15, 2020

      Yes , I know , I just thought it might help hold the soil in place until the grass grows in and helps stabilize the area , and eventually the sticks will breakdown into to soil underneath . Thanks for responding !

  • If you just want to decrease the slope, soil should work with some contouring and leveling. Planting grass is one way to keep the soil from eroding, but adding trees, bushes, other plants may help you even more. I wouldn't bother with the branches, you want clean fill.

    • Pamela Pamela on Jul 15, 2020

      Ok , thanks we already planted a few shrubs in the area ... As many as we could without making a " border " , which is against HOA rules . Thanks for answering !

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jul 15, 2020

    You should look into renting a compaction tool. That will help more than anything else. Then put sod rather than seed. If you go with seed, then cover with burlap or netting to keep birds from eating and prevent washing.

    By putting wood underneath the soil, when it rots the soil will settle. If you need to do some type of fill in, use aggregates - probably 5s or smaller rocks.

  • Pamela Pamela on Jul 15, 2020

    Thanks for your input !!! We have pretty sandy soil here , so I don't know how well compaction will work , I will look into it ! We were not thinking of putting much in the way of twigs and branches and just about 6 inches of soil , our thinking was that it might help hold the soil in place until the grass roots and helps to stabilize the area and by the time the decomposition of the twigs and branches takes place the area śhould be ok ???

  • Oliva Oliva on Jul 15, 2020

    Can you amend your soil with compost to decrease the erosion? A combination of sphagnum peat moss and well composted cow manure turned deeply into your soil may help. Note that you have the option of installing things like "hen and chicks" or varieties of sedum which should help control erosion. You may want to contact your local county extension agent/master gardener association or a landscape engineer for more specific help pertinent to your locale. The variety of grass you use may also have some bearing, as some may have deeper roots/denser root systems than others.

  • Pamela Pamela on Jul 15, 2020

    Thanks for your answer ... Don't think we could handle that ! It's a good idea , but we are a couple of seniors , a little too physical for us !

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    • Oliva Oliva on Jul 16, 2020

      Hi, Pamela,

      Some seniors have a great deal of physical capabilities, or they have teenaged grandchildren who may be more than willing to help you out. Good luck!

  • Oliva Oliva on Jul 16, 2020

    Hi, Pamela,

    You didn't include photos and your climate conditions/ growing zone, but could you terrace this area, using plants for the

    steepest segment, and plant grass in the area, above? A deep berm might be an option for you, as well, since you've had "wash outs", in the past.

    Does anyone else in your neighborhood have experience with this same problem?

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    • Oliva Oliva on Jul 16, 2020

      Hi, Pamela,

      I know a master gardener most likely not far from you. I'm going to contact him to see what he can advise, then I'll get back to you with more specifics.

  • Oliva Oliva on Jul 16, 2020

    Hi, Pamela,

    In the interim, I located some information pertinent to southern N.J. sandy soil-


    And... you are so lucky to have Rutgers University as a resource!

    Check out these web pages:

    "" and "".

    "Fall Fescues in combination with Kentucky Bluegrass should be considered for sandier soils in southern N.J.".

    " Add organics (compost, etc.) to very sandy soil, to a depth of 2-4 ".

    You may find that the company delivering the topsoil would also deliver the compost, etc. They may even rototill it in, for you. Reseeding in your area is best done in August. You're fortunate to have a watering system in place.

    I'll send more info. if it's relevant to you.

    Having redone my sloped, 8500 sq. ft. lower yard (myself) years ago with 18 cubic yards of topsoil, compost, and lime, I know exactly what a torturous job this can be, which is why I suggested asking others for some help!

    • See 2 previous
    • Pamela Pamela on Jul 18, 2020

      I hope so !

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