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how to spread topsoil over existing lawn

How to Spread Topsoil Over Existing Lawn: 5 Simple Steps

The overall benefits of top soiling for existing lawn and garden are enormous. Because topsoil has a better soil structure and microbes build-up that is very good for garden and lawn plant. It is not surprising that some smart gardeners have relied on top dressing to get a better looking lawn. If you are here to learn how to spread topsoil over an existing lawn, then you are in right place. Because here we will talk about everything you need to do step by step to topsoil your garden. So, let’s get down to business.

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How to spread topsoil over existing lawn and garden 

Spread topsoil over an established lawn is consisting of five simple but effective steps. Those steps are Identify the concerned areas, compare and test the similar types of soil, Prepare your topsoil, Apply the topsoil, Sprinkle grass seed. The detail process is given below with step by step guide

Step 1:  Identify the concerned areas 

Identify the concerned areas 

Usually, topsoil is needed in areas with sunken earth owing to tree roots, animal digging, and climatic factors like rain, soil erosion or flood. Another underlying cause of sunken earth is an overgrown thick lawn that has over shadowed the ground floor.The first thing to do is to locate these areas and mark them for topdressing or topsoiling. You can use wooden sticks or pegs to distinguish them from the rest of the lawn.

Step 2:  Compare and test the similar types of soil 

Compare and test the similar types of soil 

After that we need to test and compare the topsoil that we want to use in our selected area. Because soil properties vary with location, so you have to dress the weak spot with topsoil that closely matches the existing soil. According to the University of Tennessee Extension, topdressing will only be successful if the topsoil corresponds or closely match the existing soil.

Step 3: Prepare your topsoil 

If your topsoil matches the existing soil, you can jump right into step 4. Otherwise, you will have to prepare your topsoil to get a good result.

Prepare your topsoil 

To prepare topsoil that closely matches the existing soil adds more peat and sand to your topsoil. Mix the mixture in a bucket and proceed to apply it over your existing lawn. For more details, see the section  that talks about  the best lawn top dressing and top soiling mix.

Step 4: Apply the topsoil 

Apply the topsoil 

Next is to aerate the area of the lawn that needs the topsoil using an aerator. For areas with thick growth, make sure to rake them briskly before aerating. Gently fill up depression with enough topsoil to settle in and produce a g surface. Add about 1/8 – 1/4 inch layer of topsoil to dead lawn areas or patches. 

Step 5: Sprinkle your grass seed 

Sprinkle your grass seed 

Now it’s time to add your grass seed to the areas you’ve worked on. But before that, make sure that you work the topsoil into the existing soil without tampering with the aeration pores. Remember that grass seeds will yield well on a loosed prepared soil. After planting your grass seed, cover it and water regularly for maximum performance. There are high chances of drying out if grass seeds are not covered and watered regularly. However, If you want to purchase quality grass seed then check the below link…(#Ads)

What are the Benefits of topsoil for the lawn 

Are you wondering what benefits do topdressing gives a lawn? Don’t worry. In this section, we will take a look at the benefits you will see on your lawn after topdressing.

Gives a smooth terrain 

The sight of depressions on a lawn may not give room for a second look. There’s nothing to admire in a lawn having so many holes and uneven terrain caused by water runoff and many other things. But the good news is that you can use topsoil to put this in check. Since it is stressful and time-consuming to pull all the grasses for amendment, topdressing is the best option. It will improve the look of your lawn.

Provides nutrient to the grasses 

Provides nutrient to the grasses 

With time, the nutrients in the existing soil become depleted and no longer enough for the grasses. In such a situation, topsoil becomes a great option to help add nutrients to the soil. It is more effective when you add organic matter to the topsoil when preparing it. Also, it saves you the cost of buying fertilizers to enrich the soil for nutrient release. It is a win-win situation for you when you apply topsoil over your existing lawn. (#Ads)

Improves soil structure 

From the cation exchange capacity in soil to the water holding capacity, topsoil does a top-notch work of improving the soil properties. Additionally, it helps to correct whatever soil condition you are facing with your lawn. For example, if your lawn has a bare spot, you can use topsoil to correct this condition and incorporate new grass seeds.

Supports seeds germination 

Supports seeds germination 

Because the grass seeds are directly in contact with the topsoil, germination is fastened and effective. No matter the population of the grass seeds, topsoil ensures that a larger proportion is supported for growth. Topsoiling is also very helpful to grow different types of herbs and vegetable, specially its helps to grow arugula vegetable in garden and backyard

The difference between top soiling and top dressing 

Don’t be surprised when you hear many people using top soiling and top dressing interchangeably. The truth is that many people do not know the difference between these two terms. Some even argue that they mean the same thing, and that is not true. 


Top soil is a term that refers to the uppermost layer of soil. You will find this layer at about the top 13 to 25 cm of the soil. It has water, mineral matter, air, and organic matter. Also, this is where the most biological activity takes place. 


On the other hand, topdressing is a process that involves applying topsoil to an existing soil to improve the soil or correct a soul condition. It is easy to find top-dressing soil in gardening stores or farm shops. Depending on your lawn issues, a top dressing soil differs from topsoil.

Fun fact: Topdressing is a mixture of quality topsoil including silica sand. This is where the difference lies between topsoil and top dress.

when to top-dress lawn and topsoil a lawn 

Understanding time and season can help you through your top-dressing process to get a better result. 


During winter, most plant life is in its inert phase and may not respond to any stimuli. It will be a sheer waste of time and resources to top dress your lawn during winter. The best time is to wait for the growing season when all plant life is back from the inert phase. What this means is to wait till the summer period surface and plants become active.


Late spring to early summer is promising for your lawn and the best time to do your top dressing. Expect your grasses to respond to whatever treatment you give to me to sustain their growth. In summary, the best time to top dress your lawn is when the grasses are growing actively. A growing lawn can withstand strain from top dressing than those that are in their dormant state.

How much top soiling or top dressing do I need for my lawn 

There is no standard measurement for applying top soil over an existing lawn. It all buzz down to certain factors like your lawn type. But the general rule is to spread 1m3 of top soil to 100m3 of lawn. 

Again, you can decide to quantify the amount of top soiling to use for your lawn using the below chart

Top dressing height or area Lawn area
1/2 inch top dressing 1.54m3 lawn
1/4 inch top dressing 0.77m3 lawn
3/4 inch top dressing 2.31m3 lawn
1/8 inch of top dressing 0.40m3 lawn
3/8 inch top dressing 1.14m3 lawn
5/8 inch top dressing 1.91m3 lawn

Beware: Too much top soiling can result to the unnecessary rising of your lawn.

How often to top-dress or topsoil a lawn 

Regularly top dressing a lawn helps to improve the soil and maintain its value. However, it should be moderate to avoid damaging the soul structure. The rule of thumb is to top dress your lawn at least once in 6 months.

Some frequently used lawns like golf may need top dressing practice every month to maintain aesthetic value. What this means is that how often to top dress a lawn depends on how often it is used and the purpose.

The best lawn top dressing and top soiling mix 

You can prepare the best lawn top dressing and top soiling mix even if you are a complete novice. All you have to do is follow our guidelines on preparing the mixture, and you are good to go. Ready? Check out some of the materials to use for preparing your top dress.


 Also known as loam, it is one of the main materials used for preparing top dress. You will find it in any horticultural store around you.


 This material provides your law with nutrients for growth and sustainability. But that’s not all. It supports microbial activities that are necessary for plant growth. The recommended temperature for a company is about 60°C to disallow the growth of weeds seeds. Also, using compost to top dress your lawn is beneficial, thanks to the perfect balance of micro and macro nutrients.


 Let me say this straight. It’s best you go for sharp whose lime has been washed away. What this material does to a top dress is to enhance soil structure and increase drainage. 

Coffee grounds 

Another good material to prepare your top dress is coffee grounds. Fortunately, they are not acidic and will not change the PH of the soil. It is ready to use top soil material and perfect for grasses, thanks to the high nitrogen level. 


 Manure is another good material to use for preparing your top dressing. It is rich in microbes that are necessary for lawn soil.

How to prepare the top dressing and top soiling mix for the 3 different soil types  

Because there are different soil types, preparing top dressing and top soiling mix varies slightly. Here is how to prepare the top dressing and top soiling mix for the 3 different soil types.

For loamy soil 

Get an equal size of sharp sand( does not contain like), peat, and loam. Note that the loam is a fine crumbly soil that sits in-between clayey and sandy properties. Mix the 3 contents for your top dressing. It is that simple.

For sandy soil 

Source for the same materials stated above, but here’s the difference. Use a smaller amount of sharp sand. It means that you will have a bigger portion of loam and peat and a smaller portion of sand.

For clay soil 

The same materials apply for preparing top dressing mix for clayey soil. What you have to do is to reduce the loam instead of the sharp sand that was cut down for the sandy soil top dressing. This means a larger portion of sand and peat and smaller amount of loam.

Note: All the materials must be well dried and sieved to get rid of clumps bigger than 1/4 inches.


Q. Can I put top soil on top of grass?

Most times, grasses will survive under 1/4 -1/2 inch thick layer of top soil. The trick is to avoid soil compaction at all costs. If a grass root is compacted with soil, it will cause a reduction of soil permeability. So when speeding top soil on top of grass, watch out for soil compaction around the root areas.

Q. Can you spread topsoil with a spreader?

For large lawns, spreaders are more effective for top dressing. It does help you to apply the right amount of top dressing accurately and evenly. Also, it is a good choice for extensive lawns because it is fast and less stressful. There are different types of spreaders in the market. Make sure to cross examine a spreader before you buy. You can consider using a shovel for small lawns to get the same result.

Q. Can I put top soil over weeds?

Since weeds are not desirable on a lawn but constitute a nuisance, you can use top soil to your advantage. Apply top soil over the weeds to compact their root and reduce their water and nutrient intake. In the same way grasses tend to die off when their roots become compacted with soil, weeds also cannot survive root compaction.

Q. Will weeds die if covered with dirt?

There are chances that your grasses will turn yellow and wither when covered with dirt. How's that? Their water intake is reduced because the soil water can not get past the ground surface. The only way around this is to water the soil regularly and maintain a steady supply of water to their roots.

What is the best top soil for lawn?

With a high water holding capacity and moderate poles to allow for air flow, loam soil is the most recommended material for top dressing. The best part is that it supports the growth of living organisms. To get a better result, consider using a mixture of loam soil and sand for top dressing your lawn.

Q. How long does it take soil to replenish itself?

This depends on a variety of factors like topography, climate, and vegetation. Other factors include the characteristics of the soil itself and water erosion. All things equal, soil will replenish itself constantly when plants return nutrients through the compost pile. You can use organic matter and fertilizer to speed up the process.

Q. How long does it take for grass to breakdown in a compost pile?

Since a compost pile will contain other materials like straws and leaves, expect grass to break down within 2 to 4 months. Bear in mind that it also depends on the humidity and temperature of the compost. For a faster result, make sure to shred, water, and turn the mixture from time to time.


As with the many benefits of top-dressing your existing lawn, you don’t need anyone to convince you that it’s the best decision to take for your lawn. Topdressing your lawn should be part of your gardening routines. Yes, its undeniable that it’s a difficult task to do if you are doing it for the first time. But the silver lining is that you can do your lawn top dressing without any assistance. It takes some determination and a little knowledge of gardening that I have made easy for you. Now go out there and make your lawn look like what it should be- A beautiful lawn. So that’s all for this article. Hope you get a basic idea about how to spread topsoil over existing lawn and garden

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