What is Top Soil and How to Use It on Your Lawn

Primarily, topsoil is used for top-dressing lawn areas. This helps to create a more level and smooth area and fills in any holes in the turf.

A beautifully lush green lawn is what almost every homeowner strives for. Not only does it look great and makes your home more appealing but it’s also a functional area for your kids and pets to play.

However, when your lawn looks a little tired and worn, topdressing with some new topsoil is one of the ways that you can rejuvenate it and bring it back to its former glory.

What is top soil?

Top soil is primarily the top layer of soil in any garden. It should be dark and loamy and contain a certain amount of organic matter.

It also allows the water to flow freely through it to the layers of soil beneath.

What is top soil used for?

Primarily, topsoil is used for top-dressing lawn areas. This helps to create a more level and smooth area and fills in any holes in the turf.

It’s also used after seeding a new lawn to protect emerging seedlings.

These days, topsoil is also commonly used to create a base under new turf that is to be laid.

It’s also common practice to fill raised garden beds with topsoil in order to grow fresh vegetables and herbs at home.

How to use top soil for a lawn

lawn front yard | Lawn care

The two main reasons for rejuvenating your lawn by top-dressing are to even out the surface and to supply additional nutrients to the lawn. 

The best time to topdress your lawn is in early spring, especially if you have a warm season grass. You want to ensure that the grass is in its growth phase so that it can fill in all the gaps quickly and evenly.

Here’s the best way to topdress your lawn with top soil:

Add some fertiliser to your lawn before top-dressing

Around two weeks before you intend to topdress your lawn, apply a lawn fertiliser and water well.

This will allow the nutrients to get into the soil under the grass and encourage the grass to start growing.

Mow the lawn the day before top-dressing

The day before you intend to topdress your lawn, mow it to the height that you want it to be.

This will remove any excess growth and allow room for the topsoil to drop through the blades of grass and onto the soil beneath.

Make sure that you don’t mow too low because you don’t want to scalp your lawn at this stage. Scalping will make it harder for the grass to recover and you will end up with bare patches for a longer period of time.

Remove all clippings, leaves, and other debris before top-dressing

Make sure that you rake the lawn well to remove any debris such as lawn clippings, leaves, and other materials. This will provide an even surface for the topsoil.

Coring is optional

Some people like to core the lawn before applying topsoil but this is totally optional.

Coring involves removing plugs of soil evenly around the lawn area. This leaves open spaces for the new topsoil to settle into.

Apply the topsoil

Once your lawn is prepared for top dressing, it’s time to apply the new topsoil.

Make sure that you’ve purchased good quality topsoil that is rich in organic matter and free from weed seeds. It should also be finely screened so that it can easily drop down between the blades of grass.

Using a wheelbarrow, add small piles of topsoil all over your lawn area as this makes it easier to rake in. Use the flat side of a steel garden rake to spread the topsoil evenly over your entire lawn.

You might want to use a soil leveller during this process to ensure that the soil is nice and even.

It’s important that you don’t bury the grass beneath the topsoil because this will stop it from growing.

Therefore, you want to continue raking over the lawn to distribute the topsoil well enough so that it drops between the blades of grass and onto the soil layer underneath.

If you have any deep holes, lift the grass with a spade or shovel, fill the hole underneath, and then replace the grass on top.

Water well and keep off the grass for a week

After the top dressing is complete, water the lawn well. This will continue to push the particles of topsoil down between the blades of grass.

You also want to make sure that you stay off the grass for at least a week in order to let the soil settle and the grass to start growing again with the additional nutrients that you’ve just added.

How much topsoil do you need?

For topdressing a lawn, you want the topsoil to be around 1 cm deep. Therefore, you will need around one cubic metre of quality topsoil for every 100 square metres of lawn area.

The best top soil for lawns

When selecting the best topsoil for your lawn, choose one that is dark in colour and has a loamy consistency. It should also be rich in organic matter and finely sifted.


What is the difference between garden soil and top soil?

Topsoil is dark and loamy and usually finely screened. On the other hand, garden soil usually contains a greater mix of organic matter as well as additional fertiliser. Garden soil is often more expensive and sold in bags.

How much does topsoil cost?

In Australia, you can expect to pay around $60 to $90 per cubic metre for top-quality screened topsoil.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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