Growing grass in sand

How to Grow Grass on Sandy Soil

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Growing Grass in Sand is Difficult

To grow grass anywhere requires not only soil and water, but nutrients, air, sunlight and reasonable soil stability. Attempting to grow grass in sand or upon very sandy soil can be more than challenging if these essential requirements of plant growth are not met.
Sandy soil is often a difficult growing medium for three primary reasons:

  • Most sand offers little nutrient value.
  • Sand alone does not offer stability for roots
  • Sand does not retain moisture long enough for plants to absorb it.

Growing Grass Successfully in Sand

The best time to plant new lawns is in spring as soon as favourable conditions allow, or alternatively, in the very early autumn which still allows new grasses time to develop substantial root systems before going dormant for the winter.

  • Remove detritus from the lawn surface area, level and fill in holes. Always remove tree roots with care, and only as necessary to avoid killing the trees.
  • Cultivate the soil by hand or with a mechanical rotary tiller or cultivator to a depth of four to six inches. Cultivation aerates the soil and encourages natural flora and fauna. If the top layer of soil is pure sand, digging deeper may also mix some underlying clay or loam into the sand which will be beneficial.

Ray’s Expert Tip: Test the sand content of soil by placing a cup in a clear glass jar. Add a quart/liter of water and shake the mix thoroughly, then let it settle undisturbed for a day or two. The various soil components will separate into layers with the sand at the bottom and the lightest organic materials at the top. If the test shows few components other than sand, a substantial addition of organic content will be required.

  • Spread peat moss and other organic material evenly over the surface and rake, working it into the soil. If peat moss is unavailable, use other organic materials on hand such as chopped hay or straw, well-composted manure, leaves, compost, old sawdust, or grass clippings.
  • Add three inches of rich compost and another inch of top soil to areas that are all sand. Add commercial fertilizer at a rate of two to three pounds per 100 square feet of surface area. Excessive fertilizer will damage newly-sprouted grass seedlings, so use sparingly. Work the nutrients into the sand with a shovel, tiller, or cultivator and finish by raking the area smooth and level.
  • Seed the area uniformly with a mechanical seeder or by hand in two separate applications–the first application in one direction and the second application at a right angle to the first–the main objective is to seed uniformly. Use four to five pounds of grass seed for each 1000 square feet of area.

Grass seed germination rate declines as it gets older; use fresh seed for best results.

  • Rake the surface lightly to encourage the seed to settle into the soil.
  • Roll the surface with a weighted roller to press the seed firmly into the soil. Contact of seed with the soil is essential for uniform germination. Tamp firmly where a roller will not go in small areas. Tamping can be accomplished with a flat trowel or a suitable piece of dimensioned lumber.
  • Lay out a single layer of burlap, clean straw or coconut fiber over steeply sloped areas to stabilize the soil until the grass is rooted. The burlap or other organic material will slowly decay and add its nutrients to the soil
  • Water the surface with a fine mist. Avoid watering so heavily that water accumulates on the surface and begins to flow and carry the light grass seed with it.
  • Water daily, increasing the amount of water as the grass develops.

Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Sun and Shade, 10 lb. – Combination Mulch, Seed and Fertilizer, Tackifier Reduces Seed Wash-Away – Full Sun, Dense Shade, High Traffic Areas – Covers up to 225 sq. ft.

  • Grow grass anywhere, guaranteed (subject to proper care) with this revolutionary seeding mix
  • Grass seed: Scotts best high performance seed; Mulch: absorbs 6X its weight in water and expands to surround the seed in a moist protective layer
  • Fertilizer: Exclusive controlled release technology feeds seedlings to jumpstart growth
  • Tackifier: Helps keep seed from washing away; Protectant: Helps keep seedlings safe from harmful diseases that can attack newly planted areas
  • Grows in full sun and dense shade, high traffic areas and on slopes; seeds up to 225 sq; ft.

Growing Tips

  • In extremely dry weather, sprinkle a thin, even layer of grass clippings or chopped straw over the new grass seeding to help maintain moisture in the soil.
  • Instead of seed, plant grass plugs, stolons, or cut grass “sprigs” in a uniform pattern as recommended by the supplier.
  • Prepare soil for sod the same way as for seeding. Unroll the sod and stagger the joints between pieces. Roll the sod with a lawn roller and water it daily.
  • Begin cutting the grass after it reaches a height of about three inches. Using a lawn mower that has a sharp blade set at least two-inches high for the first cut will help avoid damage to the young, delicate root systems.
  • Leave the grass clippings on the lawn for the first two seasons to help build the sandy soil into a rich top-soil that supports a lawn to be proud of.

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Using Sand For Lawns: Is Sand Good For Lawns

It is a common practice on golf courses to add a thin layer of sand over the green. This practice is called top dressing, and it is a routine part of golf course maintenance to control thatch build up. Sand is also used to level low spots in turf areas. Common lawn care questions we receive here at Gardening Know How include “Is sand good for lawns?” and “Should I put sand on my lawn?” Continue reading for the answers.

About Top Dressing with Sand

According to the Institute of Food and Agriculture at the University of Florida, top dressing home lawns with sand is more harmful than helpful. Experts agree that sand should only be used on a lawn to level low areas, cover exposed tree roots and to fix heavy thatch build up. Even in those cases, it is recommended that you top dress with a rich, fine compost instead of sand.

Sand particles cannot retain any nutrients, so applying a layer of sand year after year to lawns actually causes lawns to

lose their fertility. Golf courses are built on sandy soil and specialized turf grasses that can thrive in sandy conditions are used on the greens. The grass seed or sod that most people have in their lawn is not the same as the grass on golf courses.

Golf courses also generally receive more maintenance than the common lawn, such as fertilizing and watering, which ultimately helps correct deficiencies created by the addition of sand.

Should I Put Sand on My Lawn?

A common mistake that many homeowners make when using sand for lawns is applying it too heavily or unevenly. This can leave unsightly globs of sand throughout the lawn while the grass beneath these heavy mounds of sand can literally be choked out. When top dressing a lawn with any material, only a very thin layer should be spread evenly over the entire lawn. Any areas where it globs or mounds up should be corrected immediately.

Many people also make the mistake of top dressing with sand to try to correct clay soil. This is actually the worst thing you can do, as adding sand to clay soil does not loosen up the soil; instead, it creates a cement-like effect.

The best description I’ve ever read about clay soil particles is that they are like a deck of cards, spread out in a messy pile as they would be in a game of Go Fish. If you were to pour water on a pile of cards, most of it would run right off the flat cards and not penetrate into the pile.

Clay soil particles are flat and card-like. They lay on top of one another making water unable to penetrate them. When you add larger, heavier sand particles to this scenario, it weighs down the clay particles, making them even more impenetrable by water and nutrients. For this reason, it is especially important to not top dress clay soil with sand. Instead, use a rich, fine compost.

Laying a new lawn

When to lay a lawn

Creating a new lawn from scratch is easy if you pick the right time of year and prepare the site thoroughly.

Turf will quickly establish on soil that is warm and moist – autumn is perfect as new turf will also be regularly watered by winter rain. Turf can also be laid in spring, but avoid this time of year if you live in an area hit by a hosepipe ban as new turf needs frequent watering to prevent grasses from being put under stress.

Buying turf

  • A standard piece of turf will cover about one square metre and is best ordered from a reputable supplier who can deliver straight to your door.
  • Choose good quality turf raised from seed – it is available in several grades, which suit different situations: domestic turf contains dwarf perennial ryegrass and is very hard wearing, while fine turf, contains grasses such as bents and fescues and is better for a showpiece landscaping project.
  • In areas of low rainfall, try drought-tolerant turf.
  • When turf arrives, stack rolls in a shady spot and if they appear dry, sprinkle with water.
  • Aim to lay the turf within a day of delivery – if laying is delayed, open the rolls and water. Don’t worry if they turn slightly yellow, they should quickly green-up once laid.

Laying turf

  • Prepare the soil by skimming off any old grass, removing large stones and weeds, and then roughly levelling by flattening humps and filling hollows. Fork over the site and rake level to leave a fine finish. Firm the soil by walking over, placing weight on your heels and rake again. Sprinkle a granular fertiliser over the soil and lightly rake into the soil and water well.
  • Lay your first row along a straight edge, slowly unrolling turf to avoid damaging. Butt each piece up closely to the last and ensure good contact with the soil by tamping down firmly with the back of the rake.
  • Lay the next row, making sure the pieces of turf are pushed right up to the first row. Stagger this and subsequent rows in a brickwork pattern until the area has been covered.
  • Lay turf so it runs beyond the area of your new lawn and trim edges with a straight edged board and a half-moon cutting tool. After cutting, scoop up handfuls of soil and put under the edges of the turf to prevent it drying out. If possible set up a sprinkler to water or soak thoroughly with several doses from a watering can.


  • Try not to walk on newly laid turf until it has rooted into the soil, which could take several weeks.
  • If the weather is mild over winter the grass will begin to grow. Trim it lightly, keeping the mower blades set high.

Turf Laying Guide

Ground Preparation

Proper ground preparation is essential for the establishment and future well-being of your new lawn. Inadequately prepared ground with never produce the best results, so it is worth putting in a bit of time an effort at this stage.

  • Remove existing turf by slicing beneath the turf with a spade. For larger areas, consider hiring a purpose-designed turf cutter from a local tool hire.
  • The soil then needs to be turned over thoroughly to a depth of 15cm using a spade or a powered cultivator.
  • Clear the area of stones, weeds, old turf and other debris.


Before laying turf the ground needs to be level and the surface should be firm but not compacted.

  • Rake the area to produce a smooth, level surface.
  • Lightly tread over the surface by foot to reveal any soft patches which can then be raked level. This process should continue until the whole area is firm and level.


Your area should now be all prepared and ready for the turf. .

  • Firstly measure the proposed lawn area accurately in square metres. If you need some guidance on how to do this, see our lawn measuring guide. Like most turf suppliers, we cut each roll to 1 meter squared, so ensure you measure up in metres or convert your value to metres prior to ordering.
  • Choose a type of turf that suits your garden needs, and place your order.
  • Turf needs to be laid as soon as possible after it has been delivered, ideally within 24 hours. Therefore order you turf for delivery on the same day, or one day prior to when you plan to lay the turf.
  • If you can’t lay the turf immediately, keep the delivered turf in the shade (particularly in hot weather) and remove any film wrapping from the pallet.

Laying the Turf

Now that the hard work has been done to prepare the ground, you are ready to lay your new turf. Use turfing boards or planks to work from and walk on, to avoid walking directly on the new lawn.

  • Some turf suppliers may provide you with a pre-turfing fertiliser to help the turf get off to the best start. Sprinkle this onto the prepared ground, following the advice on the pack.
  • Start by unrolling one strip of turf around the perimeter of the lawn. Avoid using small pieces at the edges as these can dry out and perish. Ensure that the underside of the new turf is in full contact with the soil below.
  • Lay the next strip along the longest straight run and continue to work across the lawn, strip by strip producing a pattern similar to brickwork.
  • Butt adjoining edges and ends against each other, but avoid stretching the turf.
  • Overlapping pieces and ends of rows should be cut off neatly using a sharp knife or a half-moon lawn edger.


Newly laid turf needs watering well to root in and get off to a good start. The amount of watering will be dependent on the time of year that you lay the turf, with much more water needed during the summer months.

  • Water your new lawn well immediately after laying using a hose pipe or sprinkler. Continue until the water has soaked through to the soil beneath the turf layer.
  • For the following week to two weeks, water your lawn well every evening (unless the rain does it for you!) The hotter, drier and windier the weather, the more water will be needed.
  • Water immediately and profusely on any sign of the turf drying out for example gaps, lifting, browning or curling.


A healthy lawn is a well-fed lawn!

  • As a rule of thumb, a balanced fertiliser containing similar levels of Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K) should be applied every four to six weeks during the growing season.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations with regard to the quantity, timing and method of application. A policy of ‘little but often’ will help maintain your lawn in peak condition.
  • For more information on feeding you lawn throughout the year, see our fertilising guide.


Depending on the time of year that you lay your lawn the time of the first mow can vary, but the turf should be ready for its first mow around two weeks following laying.

  • Resist the temptation to make the initial cut until your new lawn has rooted. This can be easily checked by lifting a corner to see if the roots are attached to the soil layer below.
  • For the first mow, set the lawn mower to its highest setting to avoid stressing the grass.
  • Mow regularly, each time removing no more than one-third of the grass height.
  • When the lawn is fully established, the height of cut can be reduced gradually to an optimum height of between 15mm and 35mm. Do this gradually to avoid scalping.
  • For more mowing tips, see our mowing guide to help look after your new lawn throughout all the seasons.

Turf Laying Demonstration Video

We have prepared a handy video that demonstrates how to prepare your ground and lay turf. Watch it here to get your new lawn off to a great start or click below!

Planting Your Florida Lawn

If you’re starting from scratch, there are basically two ways to establish a new lawn: with seeds, or with existing grass (in the form of plugs or sod). While starting with seed is significantly less expensive, it can also be more difficult (especially if you’re the impatient type). Laying sod, large “sheets” of grass, can give you an instant lawn, but it can be expensive. Your method will also depend on the type of turfgrass you choose, as some types can only be laid as seed, and others only as sod or plugs.

Preparing the Site

Preparing the landscape beforehand will make the process go more smoothly. If you’re moving into a new house, remove all construction debris, roots, and rocks from the site. If you’re replacing an existing lawn, you’ll need to treat the area with an herbicide first and remove the dead vegetation.

It’s important to have your soil tested, so that you’ll know the pH and nutrient levels. Your county Extension office can provide you with instructions and the materials to get you started. If necessary, you can add soil amendments and till them in. Finally, be sure the soil is evenly graded and slopes away from the house.

Starting a Lawn with Seed

Seeding is the easiest and cheapest way to establish a new lawn. The best time to seed warm-season grass in most parts of Florida is between April and July, permitting a full growing season before cold weather. Seeding your lawn can be much more cost effective than planting sod, but it depends on which turfgrass you select. Bahiagrass and Bermudagrass are the best choices if you want to start a lawn from seed.

For best results, the site needs to be prepared properly before planting. Make sure you choose high quality seed of a variety appropriate for your area and the site. Remove weeds and vegetation and loosen and level the soil. Work the seed into the soil and cover with sand or another product, such as hay. Seeding rates vary with most species and cultivars of grass. Keep newly seeded areas moist, and apply fertilizer only after the seed begins to grow.

Planting a Lawn with Plugs

Planting a lawn with plugs can be a less expensive alternative to sod, though it doesn’t give the “instant lawn” that sod offers.

You can make your own plugs by cutting sod into two to four inch pieces. You can also buy separated plug trays of certain turfgrass varieties. These commercial plugs usually have well-developed root systems, and they’re often planted with a special plugging tool.

Plant the plugs into prepared soil on six- to twelve-inch centers, taking care to bury the roots. The farther apart your plugs are, the longer they will take to fill in.

Keep plugs watered on a regular basis and don’t mow until firmly rooted. This may take two weeks to a month or more in winter. Don’t fertilize new plugs until they’ve grown together.

Planting a Lawn with Sod

Sodding can give you an “instant lawn,” though it’s costlier than seeding or plugging.

Start by clearing any debris from the site and leveling the soil. When your sod is delivered, check to see that it’s healthy and problem free. Lay your sod within twenty-four hours of delivery, and lightly irrigate the soil just before you begin. Fit the squares tightly against one another in a staggered fashion, cutting them if needed.

Proper watering is essential for your new lawn’s survival. Provide light but frequent waterings for the first two to three weeks, so that the soil stays moist but not overly wet. Once the sod is firmly rooted, you can taper off on watering.

Wait three to four weeks before you mow, and thirty to sixty days before you fertilize.

UF/IFAS Publications

  • Establishing Your Florida Lawn
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Turf
  • Renovation of Turf Areas

Got Sandy Soil? Know The Best Grass Seeds For Sandy Soil

Are you having Sandy soil in your lawn? Do you want to grow grass in your lawn but don’t know about the best grass seed for sandy soil?

​Many times, people want a lawn full of green natural grass, but unluckily they have sandy soil. This might limit the options of seeds available for growing good grass in your lawn but still there are seeds available which might help you to accomplish your task. Sandy soils have trouble retaining water content, which can result in grasses dying out. Getting a lawn full of green grass can be hard especially on sandy soils but with certain grass seeds you can get a garden as you wish.

​What Is Wrong In Sandy Soil?

Sandy soil is very good for growing fruit trees and plants but when it comes to growing grass, it can be pretty troublesome. Sandy soil contains irregular round particles, which contain air pockets in the soil.

Due to this, the soil is unable to hold on to the water and mineral content required by the roots of grass. Water drains out from such kind of soil too quickly, even before the roots can absorb it, moreover sandy soil also doesn’t provide stability to the roots.

​Which Type Of Grass Seeds Can I Use For Sandy Soils?

Growing grass or turf on sandy soil can be a tricky thing to do. Not all grass types can survive on such soil conditions, but there are few grass types which can be used in such conditions.

Below given are some of the types of grasses, which you can use if you have sandy soil. These grass all have the similarities: they requires less water, less nutrients and you don’t have to mow them frequently.

The mowing for grass in sandy soil therefore can be reduced, but it doesn’t mean to not mow at all. In contrast, mowing in a certain time and frequently can help the lawn to eliminate weeds. Remember to water the grass and sharpen your blades mower before cutting.
Read more: Top 7 Best Corded Electric Lawn Mower Reviews In 2019

​Bermuda Grass

​Bermuda grass requires well drain soils or soil types with less water content since it is a warm season grass and if you have sandy soil, then this grass type is best suited for it. Bermuda grass is a very fast growing grass. It has a dark green shade to it and is very thick. It’s also the best grass for clay soil.

Bermuda grass can easily survive both conditions of flood and drought, but it can’t live in conditions of no sunlight or shade. So make sure you plant it in regions having continuous exposure to bright sunlight during the day time. Its color changes to straw colored during the period of dormancy. It was originated from South Africa and now has become enough popular in South America.

You can buy Bermuda grass seeds form here


Scotts Turf Builder Bermudagrass Seed

Centipede Grass

​Centipede grass gets the name from the insect centipede, as it resembles to it in looks. It is slow growing and coarse textured. It is light green in color and needs stolons to spread. The mowing and fertilizing requirements of this grass are very infrequent. This grass can’t stand high pH of soil, traffic and shade, so make sure you plant it in only sunny areas.

​You can buy centipede grass seeds from here


Tifblair Centipede Grass Seed

Bahia Grass

Bahia grass doesn’t require much water to grow but when it faces water shortage for a longer period, its color starts to fade away. It has a deep root system which helps it to penetrate its roots much deeper in the ground making it excellent for sandy soils. It doesn’t require much water and fertilizers but when dormant, starts to turn brown and die.

Bahia is good for sandy soil but it also has some disadvantages such as it doesn’t make a very attractive lawn to look at when planted, since its color is dull and it is not much dense as compared to other grass types. It should be only used when the area needing plantation is large and sandy in nature.

You can buy Bahia grass seeds from here


Scotts 18103 Pensacola Bahia Turf Builder Grass Seed

Cool Season Fescue

Fescue grass can be used in drought prone areas or areas having low water content, and it is all because sandy soil is an optimal choice to plant this grass. It has deep root system which can easily stand stable even in sandy soil.

Fescue doesn’t have issues with light or dark and so it can grow very well in both sunlight and shade. Red, tall and hard Fescue grows the best in sandy soils. The creeping red Fescue is the most popular of them all as it grows fast and occupies empty patches in lawn quiet fast. Tall fescue is best for providing a good color for the lawn and if you need a low maintenance grass, Hard Fescue is the best.

You can buy Fescue grass seeds from here​


Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed – Dense Shade Mix for Tall Fescue Lawns

Zoysia Grass

​Zoysia is the best for highly porous sandy soils. It has long roots which go deep in the soil. Once the roots make their place in the soil, they make the grass drought tolerant. It’s roots also helps to make it less dependent on the fertility of the soil to get its nutrients from.

Zoysia grass provides high density lawn with a lush green color which even lasts longer as compared to some other grass of same region. When in dormant state, it turns golden brown which looks good enough. It requires full sun exposure for growth but can also do fine when grown in shade.

​You can buy Zoysia grass seeds from here


Zenith Zoysia Grass Seed

You can refer a great article on LawnStater to know more about grass seed for sandy soil


Having sandy soil can be trouble for getting your lawn prepared but with these given grass turfs, you can easily get a lush green and dense garden in a matter of months. Sandy soil doesn’t hold water for a long time and so the grass should be chosen accordingly. Grass plants which can be suitable for such soil conditions are:

  • Bermuda Grass
  • Centipede Grass
  • Bahia Grass
  • Cool season Fescue
  • Zoysia Grass

These grass types do well in sandy soil as they don’t require more water as compared to other type of grasses. They all have their own pros and cons. So, choose wisely. Of all the options Zoysia can be the best option as it doesn’t require much water and can grow well in both sun and shade.

Different Types Of Seed Spreaders

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What Does Sand Do For Grass?

When maintaining greens in a golf course, staff would add a thin layer of sand over it. This is known as topdressing, which is a common practice for grass maintenance. Many homeowners also do it in their own lawns, but what does sand do for grass anyway?

Using sand for your garden might not be as beneficial as you think. So read on as I show you the different benefits sand can do for your grass.

Like mentioned, the act of placing sand on your grass is known as topdressing, which is mostly used in high-activity areas like gold courses or fields. The purpose of applying a layer of sand over grass it to level out the uneven surface, as well as cover tree roots.

Besides this, they are also used to address common lawn issues like low spots, compacted soil, bare spots, or depletion of nutrients from neglect, chemical exposure, or leaching.

However, adding sand isn’t recommended. Studies show that placing sand on your lawn can cause compaction and drainage issues, and it actually doesn’t add any nutritional value to the soil underneath! While it’s used for commercial areas, it’s not the best practice for domestic lawns. Why?

This is because sand can’t retain nutrients, so applying it yearly can cause the grass to list its fertility. Golf courses can do this as they use specialized grades and sandy soil that thrive in the sandy conditions. Additionally, golf courses have daily maintenance, maintaining its vitality. With the average lawn, it won’t be able to do so, as we have different grass seeds, soil conditions, and sod.

But what you CAN use sand for is when leveling it on low areas, to cover exposed roots, or to fix heavy thatch build-ups. Though even then, it’s still better to use compost rather than sand. As much as possible, I highly suggest that you look into different alternatives for your lawn issues rather than sand.

Putting Sand On My Lawn

If you’re still planning to put sand on your lawn for various reasons, then you have to be wary. One mistake many people make about placing sand is applying TOO much of it and/or unevenly. As a result, there are globs of sand all around the lawn while the grass feels choked because of the excess sand on top of it.

When you’re topdressing your lawn, may it be with sand or compost, you need to make sure that you spread a very thin layer evenly all throughout the lawn. If you do see globs or mounds, you need to correct it immediately.

Furthermore, avoid topdressing your lawn with sand when correcting clay soil. It won’t loosen the soil but actually hardens it to have it feel cement-like!

I highly recommend that when you topdress with sand, mow your lawn beforehand. Then, use a mix of 50% sand with 50% of fresh topsoil. Only cover the lawn to about 1/8 inch of the mixture, tamping it down lightly using your hand.

While you can do this yearly or as needed, I discourage you to do so, unless you’ll be using high-quality compost soil. This can help maintain the health of your lawn.

Wrapping It Up

I hope that this article answered your question, “what does sand do for grass?” Now that you know the answer, start learning more about what to do and what to avoid when it comes to grass maintenance now.

If you have any questions or want to share your tips and experiences on using sand on grass, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

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Use no more than an inch or two of sand to fill the low spot. Shovel the sand into the area and seed and water it. Maintain the lawn normally until grass grows on top of the first layer. Repeat the process until the low spot is filled.

How To Use Sand To Repair Bare Spots

Sand can also be used to repair bare spots in a lawn.

Repairing bare spots.
(Courtesy: Nanadw at

Items you will need for the project include:

  • A Spade
  • Sand
  • Topsoil Mix
  • Grass Seed
  • Shredded Mulch

The process can be performed in nine steps.

  1. Dig straight down into the area with the spade and remove as much of the dead spot as possible including the dead root system. Cut through the dead spot and stop at healthy grass.

2. Mix a 50-50 ratio of sand and fresh topsoil in a clean bucket with a clean spade.

3. Fill the hole with the mixture until it is level with the ground.

4. Sprinkle seed on the fresh sand and soil mixture. Add slightly more than one-third of a pound of seed per every 250 square feet of dirt. For larger areas, add 1.5-pounds of seed per thousand square feet.

5. Lightly cover with one-eighth-inch of sand and soil mix.

6. Tamp down lightly with your hand enough to set the seed so it won’t blow away.

7. Cover the fresh seed with a thin layer of shredded mulch. Keep the area covered with mulch for a minimum of two weeks or until the seed germinates.

8. Water the area enough to keep it moist twice a day in regions with limited rainfall. Don’t allow the seed to sit in standing water.

9. Continue to water daily until the seeds germinate and sprout.

When you mow the area, keep the cutting height slightly higher than usual until the spot has blended seamlessly into the surrounding grass. Don’t add fertilizer or weed killer and feed to the grass until it is firmly established.



Topdressing is a sand or prepared soil mix applied to the surface of the lawn. The term topdressing also is used for the process of applying the material.

Topdressing materials are evenly applied in a thin layer, typically ¼ inch (6.35 mm) or less, for a variety of purposes. Topdressing can be used to smooth the surface of the lawn. It can reduce thatch buildup by encouraging decomposition. It can be used following seeding, overseeding or sprigging to protect the developing plants from desiccation during the establishment process. It also can be used on open, windswept turfgrass to help avoid winter desiccation.

When applied following core aeration, the topdressing material filters into the holes opened by the aeration process, speeding turfgrass recovery.

Typically, for all of these uses, the topdressing material should closely match the composition of the soil profile.

Topdressing also may be used to modify the soil profile, though this takes multiple applications over a number of years. For this use, the topdressing material differs from the composition of the soil to which it is applied.

Typically, this practice is combined with core aeration, with a coarse-textured material (sand or sand-organic matter combinations) applied to soils with high clay content (fine-textured). The goal is to alleviate compaction issues and improve water, air and nutrient movement into the soil (infiltration) and within the turfgrass rootzone (percolation).

Topdressing for soil modification can be detrimental if done improperly. Once the topdressing material is determined, that same material must be used throughout the process to insure the consistency that facilitates water movement and root growth.

The use of varying topdressing materials can result in layering, with different textured soils stacked in layers within the soil profile. The greatest problem occurs with a fine-textured soil forming a layer on top of a coarse-textured soil. This can hinder water’s ability to reach the turfgrass roots since water moves throughout one layer of soil texture before infiltrating the differing texture of the level below it.

Problems also can occur if the process of applying the topdressing materials is done improperly, resulting in uneven depths of material across the lawn. This can impede water and nutrient accessibility creating wet and dry areas that impact turfgrass growth and the overall appearance of the lawn.

Applications of too much topdressing material, or applications made too frequently, over an existing thatch layer can bury the thatch layer. Without proper aeration to rectify this, turfgrass roots may grow into and within the thatch layer rather than extending into the soil profile. This makes the turfgrass more susceptible to drought, heat and other stresses.

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