When you own a home with a lawn, you quickly learn that maintaining it is a lot of work. One of the lesser-known but vital tasks is topdressing. As a business owner, a well-maintained lawn is key to making a good impression on customers and clients. First impressions matter and an unkempt lawn can send the wrong message about your business.

What Is Top Dressing Soil?

Topdressing soil is a layer of material spread over the surface of the lawn. The purpose is to improve the look and the health of your customer’s lawn.

The benefits of topdressing a lawn are many:

  • It can help level out an uneven lawn
  • Fill in holes and divots
  • Improve drainage
  • Aerate the soil
  • Improve nutrient levels
  • Fertilize the lawn
  • Help control thatch
  • Reduce water and fertilizer requirements
  • Reduce thatch buildup

What Are the Best Materials To Use?

How to topdress a large lawn, medium, or small? The most important thing is to use the proper materials for topsoil. Sand, compost, and soil amendments are all popular choices for topdressing and some of the best ways to top-dress lawns.


soil with shovel teel shovel be used for scoop sand to construct the picture

Sand is good for leveling out an uneven lawn. It can also fill in divots and holes. Make sure to research the best sand for top-dressing your lawn. The main downside of sand is that it doesn’t retain moisture or nutrients well, so it can be tricky to get the right balance. With too much sand, you’ll end up with a drought-prone lawn. Too little sand will wash away. 

Sand for lawn leveling is a popular topsoil choice on golf courses. A layer of sand over the Bermuda grass helps keep the area looking nice and prevents the grass from growing too long.


Compost is for top dressing and provides tons of nutrients that help your lawn flourish. It also helps improve drainage and reduce thatch. The only downside of compost is that it can be expensive to buy in large quantities.

You can make and maintain your compost bin relatively easily. Best compost materials include grass clippings, leaves, vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells.

Soil Amendments

Soil amendments are materials you add to the soil for the purpose of improving soil. Common soil amendments include lime, sulfur, and magnesium. You can purchase materials at most garden stores.

Which Method Is Best?

What is the best top dressing for lawns? There are two popular methods for topdressing a lawn. These are the dry method and the wet method.

Dry Method

The dry method is simpler but less effective. You spread the top dressing material over the surface of the lawn and then rake it in. This method is best for leveling an uneven lawn and filling in holes and divots.

Wet Method

green grass on a lawn picture

The wet method is more effective but takes a bit more effort. First, wet the lawn, then spread the top dressing material over the surface. The wetter grass will help hold the top dressing in place. You then rake it in and water it again. This method is ideal for all the purposes of top dressing, from leveling an uneven lawn to fertilizing your grass.

How Often Should You Top Dress a Lawn?

The frequency with which you top dress a lawn depends on its condition. If it is in good condition, you can topdress it once a year. If your lawn is in poor condition, you may need to topdress it multiple times a year.

How To Prepare to Top Dress a Lawn

You will need a few tools and prep the area before you begin topdressing your lawn.

Gather the following supplies:

  • Topdressing material (sand, compost, soil amendments)
  • A rake, shovel, or spreader
  • A watering can or garden hose
  • If you are using the wet method, you will also need a shovel.

Once you have gathered your materials, it’s time to prepare the area. Remove any debris from the lawn, such as sticks, rocks, and leaves.

Use a rake to loosen the top layer of soil. It will help the top dressing material penetrate the soil.

Before you begin, check the pH level of your soil. You can purchase a pH test kit at most garden stores.

How To Top Dress a Lawn

top dressing lawn

There are many ways to top-dress a lawn. The easiest way to topdress is to use a spreader. If you don’t have one, you can use a shovel or rake to spread the material evenly over the surface of the lawn.

Once you’ve spread the top dressing soil, water it in well. This will help the material to settle into the lawn.

If you’re using compost, you can top-dress your lawn at any time of year. For best results, spread a thin layer (about 1/4-inch) over the surface of the lawn..

Topdressing with sand should be done in late fall or winter when the grass is dormant. Rake the sand over the surface of the lawn.

If you’re using a soil amendment, wait until spring to topdress your lawn. Apply a thin layer (1/4-inch) of amendment over the surface of the lawn and water it in.

What To Do After Adding Topsoil

grass seeds begin to grow on new soil in the garden picture

Once you’ve topdressed a lawn, be sure to water it regularly. A well-maintained lawn requires 1-2 inches of water per week, depending on the time of year.

Next, research the best topsoil for grass, and after adding this topsoil, keep fertilizing your lawn. Fertilizer will help the new grass seedlings grow and give your soil a boost of nutrients. You can purchase fertilizer at most garden stores. Don’t expect to see results overnight.

It can take weeks or even months for the new grass to grow. Be patient and water your lawn regularly. With some time and effort, you’ll have a lush, green lawn that is worthy of showing off.

Final Thoughts on Topsoil

If you are a lawn care business owner, you may be called on to topdress soil. Topdressing a lawn is a great way to improve its condition and appearance. There are many different materials to choose from, including sand, compost, and soil amendments. It is an easy and inexpensive way to give the soil the nutrients to thrive.

Start Using Lawn Care Software!

With Real Green Lite’s lawn care software, you can eliminate the guesswork and manage your entire lawn care business in one single, complete platform.

Hosam Sayed is a Product Marketing Manager at WorkWave with extensive knowledge of B2B product and marketing positioning. When not in front of his computer, he can be found spending time with his family, enjoying outdoor activities, and working on perfecting the art of landscaping.