Gardening Advice

How to Topdress Your Lawn the Right Way


A house with a lush and well-maintained lawn is a dream of many homeowners. Enjoying a fresh cup of coffee at the sight of neat, green grass on a sunny day, it’s priceless. Undoubtedly, growing a beautiful and healthy lawn is a challenging job, involving a range of maintenance tasks at different times of the year. One of them that certainly can improve turf quality and every gardening enthusiast will enjoy is lawn topdressing.

Although it can be a little time-consuming, topdressing is quite a simple task, which can resolve serious lawn problems. It can help with the lack of topsoil underneath the grass, uneven terrains, dead spots, poor drainage and more. It’s definitely worth a try and will give you more than it will take. In a week, you’ll notice your lawn looking revived.

So, if you:

  • Are searching for a natural way to make your lawn healthier and thriving;
  • Are faced with uneven areas or water runoff in your yard;
  • Want to improve the structure of the soil while reducing the need for fertilisation.

Keep reading. In this article, you will learn all you need to perform lawn topdressing. We’ve gathered useful tips from the pros, as well as detailed instructions on when and how to get the job done in the right way.

Table of Contents:

What is topdressing and why is it important?

Lawn topdressing is the process of applying a thin layer of special soil mix over the grass. It’s a simple organic lawn care operation that feeds up the topsoil and improves the lawn’s appearance by correcting the terrain’s imperfections in the easiest way possible.

Probably, if your lawn is correctly established and fertilised regularly, you may think that topdressing is not necessary. However, it has many more benefits than fertilising, such as levelling, improving drainage and decreasing thatch build-up.

Let’s have a look at them in more detail:

  • Topdressing adds valuable nutrients and helps promote healthy growth, reducing the need for fertilisation – Applying a topdress properly reduces the dead spots and prevents the accumulation of thatches. By enriching the poor topsoil, it restores the lawn’s natural balance and makes it more resistant to diseases. Moreover, topdressing releases valuable nutrients into the roots slowly and for a long time, which minimise the need for fertilisation.
  • It improves the soil structure – A better-textured structure of the soil makes the oxygen, water and nutrients infiltrate much easier into the roots of the plants.
  • With topdressing, you can fix holes and level uneven areas – It’s the easiest way to repair the damage caused by natural soil subsidence, worm castings and water runoff. Also, it’s a great way to deal with reduced levels of soil underneath.
  • Proper topdressing improves lawn drainage – It enhances the soil structure, allowing it to retain more nutrients and moisture during the dry weather, and to drain away the excess water in rainy seasons.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to topdress a newly planted or renovated lawn. Topdressing can damage and suffocate delicate roots.

When is the best time to topdress your lawn?

As you probably can guess, this should be done during the spring or early summer, when the grass has started growing and you’ve begun to mow regularly. Generally, you may apply a topdressing mixture whenever you need to improve your turf’s look or minimise uneven spots, but not during the winter. Covering the grass with a topdressing mix, when it’s not growing, may damage or even kill the lawn.

Another thing you have to consider is the weather forecast. Be sure that rainy weather can make your work difficult, especially when you need to level the grassed area.

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Which is the best soil for top dressing your lawn?

The most important thing when choosing the topdressing mix is to consider whether it will suit the texture and composition of the underlying soil. A topdressing mixture with a finer texture can make it difficult for water and air to move through the layers. So, the end result will be poor turf quality. Most topsoil products are an 80/20 blend of sandy and loam soils, so sticking to a similar structure will be fine.

Many options are available on the market, which contain compost, sand, loam and fertilisers in different proportions. A blend of compost and either topsoil or sand is recommended as it gives excellent results. Compost has the quality to release nutrients slowly for an extended period. It will ideally assist turf growth and will also protect the lawn from plant diseases. You can check the options available at your local gardening store or order online.

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Keep in mind that using topsoil or sandy soil is not a good choice. Both will help with levelling and improving soil drainage, but won’t add as many valuable nutrients, as a proper topdressing mix with organic matter.

As for the quantity of the topdressing product, you don’t need a special topdressing lawn calculator. A bag of 25 litres of a standard mix should cover about 12 m2, or in other words, you need 2 litres per square metre of lawn. So, measure the area you want to treat before getting the right amount.

25 litres of soil weighs around 22 – 25 kg. So, you will need approximately 2 kg of topdressing mix to cover 1 m2.

How to topdress your lawn

In this process, you aim to spread a thin layer of topdressing mix over the lawn after proper preparation. It’ll add valuable nutrients around the root zone, help healthier growth, and improve the soil structure. An essential part of the preparation is that you should mow the lawn before topdressing it at about 40 – 45 mm grass length. It’s better to do it the day before. So, let’s get on with the supplies.

These are the tools and material you will need for the job:

  • A dust mask;
  • Gloves;
  • A lawn aerating device;
  • A garden shovel;
  • A steel rake;
  • A topsoil spreader (optional, you can use the back of the steel rake);
  • A wheelbarrow (for bringing the mix if you are going to topdress a big lawn);
  • A hose or sprinkler with access to water;
  • Topdressing mixture;
  • Fertiliser (optional).

So, now we are ready to start with the first step of the process.

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Aerate the lawn

Lawn aeration is an integral part of the job because it provides the roots with easy access to water, air and nutrients. Use a lawn aerating device and make sure not to miss some area of the lawn. You should remove all the plugs of grass and soil. You don’t want to leave them over the lawn, as they will form bumps later.

2. Rake up all debris, thatch and moss

Use the steel rake to remove all the grass clippings, plugs, debris, thatch and moss from the lawn. By doing this, you’ll prepare the terrain for the next steps, making sure the topdressing and fertilisers will reach the grass’ roots easily.

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3. Fertilise the lawn

This is not a mandatory step, but it’s a perfect time if you haven’t done it recently. Keep in mind that it’s best to fertilise the lawn a few weeks before topdressing it for maximum effect. Also, some top dressing mixtures are enriched with fertilisers. So, if you are supplied with such topdressing, skip this step.

Follow the instructions on your fertiliser to spread it evenly on the grass, and you can also check our guide on How to properly fertilise a lawn for more tips.

4. Spread the topdressing mix

Now that you’ve prepared the lawn, it’s time to apply the mix. Here is how:

  • Put on the dust mask and gloves to protect yourself from breathing or touching the topdressing mix.
  • Start shovelling the material around, covering the entire area evenly. You can also first pour the soil into even piles on the whole terrain and then spread it with the steel rake. Make sure there are no lumps and clumps, as they can create holes in the lawn afterwards.
  • Check the producer’s recommendation about the thickness of the layer. As a standard, 0,5 to 2 cm is enough.
  • Rake the mixture into the lawn using the back of a steel rake or a topsoil spreader. Spread it evenly and make sure that the grass is still visible over the dressing. You should aim to cover ⅓ of the grass leaves.
  • Increase the amount in some spots if you’re trying to level an uneven lawn or fill a gap.
  • Finally, remove any excess soil from the areas where it’s covering the grass.
Always protect yourself with a dust mask and gloves. Wash your hands after spreading the top dressing mixture. Most of them contain microorganisms you don’t want to breathe or touch.

5. Water the lawn

Water the lawn well using a hose or sprinkler. This will move the mix down to the roots, penetrating the topsoil better. When you are done, remove all the tools and materials from the grass and try not to walk on it for a week.

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How often to water your lawn after topdressing

You should water the lawn daily for a few weeks after topdressing it. This will help the product mix better with the topsoil and the nutrients it contains reach the turf roots. As a result, your lawn will revive quicker and thrive. Of course, make sure not to soak the lawn.

How often to topdress the lawn

The short answer is – it depends on the situation. Healthy lawns should be topdressed once in a few years with a small amount of material – ½ to 1kg per square metre. However, if you are trying to restore a weak lawn, you can topdress it 2 or 3 times a year.

Remember that thinner layers can be applied more often, as they will penetrate faster into the topsoil, and the lawn will remain beautiful. Thicker layers need more time to penetrate, so your turf may not look its best for about a week or sometimes, more. Also, you don’t always need to treat the whole lawn. You can apply a topdressing mixture only on weak or problematic spots.


  • The best time for applying topdressing is during the spring or early summer.
  • Choose a top-dressing mix that contains compost and has a similar structure as your topsoil.
  • For best results, fertilise the lawn a couple of weeks before the topdressing and mow it at a 40 – 45 mm height the day before.
  • Topdress your lawn regularly to enjoy a healthy and beautiful turf.

Do you feel like topdressing is a hard task for you?
Get in touch with the professionals! The Fantastic gardeners will make your lawn look lovely.

We hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them below. Also, it would be great if you tell us about your experience with topdressing.

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