The soil I have under my lawn/sod is dry, sandy and very compact. It's an old unkempt lawn that never gets watered in summer. The grass is very tightly grown and rough. I've just built six veggie boxes out of untreated spruce. Each box measures 10' long x 3' wide and is 10" in height. It's been months of trying to decide whether to take up the old grass first or just to cover it with cardboard/newspaper and add the topsoil/compost mixture right on top. I've been asking around for about a year. For either raised veggie boxes or flower/shrub beds, here are the different things I've been told: For Right Now: *Shovel up the sod, get rid of it (or compost it), add 1’ of topsoil/compost, plant *Shovel up the sod, get rid of it (or compost it), lightly rototill the ground, add 1’ of topsoil/compost, plant *Shovel up the sod, get rid of it (or compost it), cover it with landscaping fabric (the black stuff), then add 1’ of topsoil/compost mix, plant *Cover the existing lawn/sod/weeds with 1-2 layers of clean cardboard OR 5-7 layers of black ink only newsprint OR 5-7 layers of clean newsprint. Add 1’ of topsoil/compost. Plant. *Cover the existing lawn/sod/weeds with 1-2 layers of clean cardboard, wet it, add a 1" layer of straw, 1" of fish compost, then your 1’ of topsoil mix. Poke a hole through the cardboard for each seedling you are planting, so that their roots can get through. *For shrubs and trees in beds: Cover the existing lawn (that you want to kill) with lumber yard plastic or tarp (it's a heavy plastic, white on one side, black on the other). Score a large X in each place where you plan to put your shrub or tree. Cover with 1’ of topsoil. Plant. If You Can Wait a Year: *Shovel up the sod, turn it over (grass side down), cover it with 5-7 layers (sheets) of black ink only newspaper, wet it thoroughly, cover that with a layer of clean cardboard, weigh it down with rocks, wait one year, remove only the rocks, then add 1' of topsoil onto all of it and plant it. *Cover the existing lawn with 1-2 layers of clean cardboard OR Â½” layer of black ink only newsprint OR Â½” layer of clean newsprint. Weigh it down. wait one year. Uncover and rake out dead grass. Add 1’ of topsoil/compost. Plant. *Cover the existing lawn with lumber yard plastic or tarp (it's a heavy plastic, white on one side, black on the other) - black side up. This attracts more heat. Weigh it down. wait one year, uncover it, rake out the dead grass & rocks, add your new topsoil/compost mix. Plant. So there’s what I have found out. They all sound like they take a lot of work, no matter which one I choose. I cannot say I agree some of them; some methods are apparently for keeping weeds or grass down, for killing the grass, for retaining soil – who knows. Oh, and the amount of topsoil to put on top ranged from 6" to 16", I just wrote 1' for averages sake. As for the ingredients in the topsoil, most people said anywhere from 75% topsoil/25% compost to 50/50. And it was anything from topsoil and composted manure to topsoil and fish compost. Out here we have places that well fish, mushroom, manure composted to expensive blends called SeaSoil, Black Gold. I only have a small round black compost bin, so not enough to fill the boxes I have. I have to buy topsoil/compost and have it trucked in as close to the garden as possible. Does anyone have any comparison of these different methods? Any thoughts?