Answer: It sounds to me as though you will need to start from the ground up to develop a healthy garden. Most contractors scrape off the top soil to level the lot prior to building. What results when construction is finished is a compacted yard with little or no organic matter, which makes it difficult for plants to thrive. You can start on a small scale with the intent to redo the entire yard over a period of time. Lawns need a good foundation in order to grow trouble-free for years. Start by rototilling and removing any vegetation in the lawn area then leveling the area and spreading 4-5" of organic matter over the top of the soil. Till it in to a depth of 8-10", then rake the area level. Your last step is broadcasting seed. This is a good spring or fall project. Flower beds need the same kind of treatment. The organic matter (compost, aged-manure, shredded leaves, etc.) will loosen the soil, help it drain well and hold moisture and nutrients for the plant's roots. You'll see a big change in your plants and turfgrass if you start them out with healthy soil.
Best wishes with your new landscape!
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