Can You Spread Topsoil On Old Lawn

Can You Spread Topsoil On Old Lawn

You have a lawn that is already a little older and taken? Then go for topsoil. The mineral- and nutrient-rich soil can help old lawns regain their fullness, and ideally, all you have to do is take it from your own property. In doing so, you take advantage of the properties of topsoil, which has proven to be an excellent rejuvenating treatment for stressed and old lawns.

Spread topsoil on old lawn

An old lawn is no longer an ideal surface. It doesn’t matter if the grass isn’t as vigorous as it once was due to lack of care or years of use and needs to be refreshed. Fortunately, greenery can be brought back to life using a variety of different methods. One of these is the use of nutrient-rich topsoil, which is applied as a layer and then seeded with new seed. With this idea, however, many people ask themselves the following questions:

  • Does waterlogging form?
  • What about weeds?

Waterlogging is usually not a problem with this option. Since you are not spreading ten or twenty centimeters of topsoil, the old lawn can still breathe and the moisture can distribute itself excellently in the soil. It is the same with the weeds. This rots along with the remaining grasses, providing a layer of humus that also releases nutrients into the topsoil. To achieve these effects, it is important how you spread the soil, as you can’t just cover the lawn and leave it alone afterwards.

Note: The same way is an excellent way to fill uneven spots in the lawn if you don’t want to remove it completely. Since topsoil contains a lot of nutrients, the repaired areas will sprout again within a short time and close the area.


One of the most important aspects of this method is timing. If you want to refresh old lawn with topsoil, you need to cover it at the right time to allow the greatest effect. There are only two time frames that come into question per se, as they favor the germination of the lawn seed:

  • April to May
  • August to September

It is important to have a continuous temperature of 10 °C, because below this the seeds will not germinate. Since you have two periods, you can choose when to distribute the topsoil. However, keep in mind that you will have to wait for at least a whole year after that, until a dense grass surface is formed. Since you are completely replanting the greenery, the waiting time will be correspondingly long. In addition, you must rarely walk on the area for the entire period, as too much pressure could affect germination and growth. Choose a dry or overcast day. If it rains, the topsoil will be too heavy to transport, and if the sun is intense, the soil may suffer.

Note: If you plan to use the covered green space for growing vegetables rather than ornamental or utility turf, for example, you won’t have to wait quite as long. However, since the topsoil is still very soft immediately after spreading, you should be very careful so that you do not immediately remove everything again.

Materials and tools

At first glance, it sounds quite simple to spread topsoil on the old greenery and make it usable again. But the effort is much more extensive, because you need to provide a good foundation for the topsoil to establish itself. And for this purpose you will need appropriate tools and materials that will help you in this project. The following list will give you an overview of them:

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Lawn mower
  • Shovel
  • Scarifier
  • Rake
  • Tape measure or folding rule
  • Spirit level
  • String
  • Wooden sticks
  • Rake
  • Slow release fertilizer (lime, iron sulfate)
  • optional: lawn seed

Of course, the most important is the topsoil. This is the first twenty to thirty centimeters of soil on which the turf. That is, this soil you can use to obtain topsoil, with which you can cover the lawn. Deeper you should not promote further soil, because it becomes increasingly poor in nutrients, and also has little microorganisms that would have a positive effect on the growth of grasses and the formation of humus. So, take enough topsoil from one spot in your garden to cover the entire area. Of course, how much you need depends on the area you want to cover. To do this, you just need to calculate the volume using the following formula:

Width in m x Length in m x Height in m = Volume in m³.

The width and length, of course, take from your lawn. For the height of the layer is recommended around five centimeters, as this will rot weeds and grasses, and will be easy to plant and load. For a lawn of five by five meters, the calculation would be as follows:

5 m x 5 m x 0.05 m = 1.25 m³.

So you need 1.25 m³ of topsoil for such an area. In most cases, however, this direct indication is not sufficient, since it may be, for example, that your lawn is uneven or even has holes. For this reason, you should always take 15 to 20 percent more just to be on the safe side. At 1.25 m³, that would be 1.44 m³ to 1.5 m³ of soil. You should always use a little more, especially on slopes, as they are difficult to level out.

If you do not have a scarifier available, you can rent one. Depending on the provider, you have to consider the following costs per day:

  • Hardware store: about 30 euros
  • manufacturer: about 50 Euro
  • private: 10 to 35 Euro

In itself, the devices are also not so expensive and can be obtained cheaply on the Internet. You can also use alternatives such as a hand scarifier or special footwear, which will still make the job a little easier.

Tip: If you don’t have the ability to use topsoil from your garden yourself, you can get it for cheap or sometimes even for free through the local classifieds. Many people can no longer do anything with their topsoil and offer the soil for this reason, which will only benefit you.


Before you can cover the lawn with topsoil, you will need to do some preparation to end up with a straight and clean soil. Particularly important here is staking out the height to allow for a level surface. To do this, simply stake out the area with timbers and stretch the string between them at a height of five centimeters. Align them with a spirit level to get the same height in all places. Even if the area is on a slope, it is worth using the height as a guide. Once the height has been marked out, you need to prepare the ground:

  • First, use the lawn mower and mow the area thoroughly. This will make it easier to spread the topsoil, since too tall stalks would mess up the desired height. It’s best to dispose of the grass clippings in the compost so they don’t get left behind and form another layer to decompose.
  • Now you need to apply the scarifier for the entire area. This will remove unwanted plants or organisms such as mosses that like to settle in the lawn. At the same time, the device will provide loosening of the soil, which will have a positive effect on further development.
  • With these points, nothing stands in the way of the actual project. Further below you will find detailed instructions, which will tell you in great detail all the necessary steps.
Can You Spread Topsoil On Old Lawn

Apply topsoil to old lawn: Instructions

Once again, check if you have enough topsoil available. It is important to be very thorough in all steps, because only in this way the topsoil layer will be well preserved and will not be easily removed. Proceed as follows:

  • On the mowed and scarified surface is not yet immediately used up the topsoil. This you need to mix with sand beforehand, if your garden has always had a problem with waterlogging. The sand regulates the permeability of the soil, which is ideal for this purpose.
  • Take the fertilizer and spread it generously on the old lawn. Work it in a little with the rake so that it is better distributed.
  • Now, finally, spread the topsoil on the old soil. To do this, take the shovel and make sure that the entire area is covered with new soil. Once all the topsoil is distributed, check the height of the layer using the string. Feel free to use the spirit level for this if you have one available.
  • Last but not least, you can spread seed for a new lawn. Moisten the soil and keep an eye on it over the next few weeks. You just need to make sure that they do not dry out completely.

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