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Can You Put Soil on Top of Sand? Thickness and Tips Explained

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There may be some sandy areas where you may want to start a garden or even grow turf and placing soil over the sand will give the plants a better chance of survival.

Soil can be placed on top of sand to enhance the growing medium on which plants or lawn grass has to grow. Healthy soil applied at a thickness of 2 to 4 inches on top of sandy soil will provide enough depth for grass and plants to grow and access nutrients without facing drainage issues associated with sandy soil.

This article will explain what to do when placing soil over sand in both garden and lawn applications so that the plants will benefit and thrive.

Things to Know When Placing Soil on Top of Sand

Soil on top of sand

If you have heavy clay soil, it may need to be mixed with other types of soil to make it workable. Manure does the trick, be it chicken, horse, or cow manure.

When placing soil on top of sand, you should work in the soil at least 2 inches into the sand, meaning that the first two inches of sand should ideally be mixed with the soil so that there won’t be a sort of “barrier” between the two substrates.

It helps roots to have an easier transition when venturing further into the ground in search of nutrients.

With that said, don’t underestimate the sand beneath. Sandy soil does have nutrients that plants can grow healthy on. The only problem is drainage and its ability to hold water.

Other than that, sand is a great substrate to grow, and some plants like the cactus thrive well in sandy soils.

Does Sand Need to be Removed before Putting Soil Down?

You may need to remove sand before nutrient-rich soil is added to ensure that the area is at your desired level. 

On the other hand, if you are ok with the current sandy soil level adding a layer of topsoil will increase the area’s height. 

Sandy soils are often loose and tend to sink when walking upon or when weight is applied. 

To add soil on top of sand, you may want first to compact the sand to ensure there is no noticeable drop in height when topsoil is applied.

This is because the topsoil will have some weight by itself and will compact and sink the sand below it, causing a general drop.

If the sand is not leveled before adding soil you may end up with an uneven-looking space and it will affect the overall look of your lawn. With gardening spaces, you may not be too concerned with the aesthetics when vegetable plants are to be grown.

Can You Plant Over Sand?

Yes, you can plant over sand, and plants can thrive well in sandy soils. 

I have seen veggies like eggplants and ochre grow well in just sand, and they sometimes produce without even tending to them. Crazy but true.

On the other hand, plants like cacti love sandy soil and thrive well on it because they have a well-developed system where they store water for use when it is unavailable in the soil.

We do recommend going for better quality soil enriched with organic compounds.

As grasses need more moisture to grow vigorously, you must amend the sandy surface to let them grow but a minimum of 2 inches of topsoil is highly recommended.

If you ask how much topsoil over sand is needed to grow grass, it should be at least 4 to 6 inches of topsoil cover above the sandy subsoil is preferable.

How Much Topsoil Over Sand To Grow Grass?

The amount of topsoil needed per square foot will vary depending on what type of grass you want to grow. A lawn requires about 2 inches of topsoil, but some types of turfgrass require between 2 and 4 inches of topsoil.

The depth of soil that should be added to the top of the sand will give the plants or grass enough room for the roots to grow through and access nutrients while getting the moisture they need. 

Nutrients require water to move from the soil into the plant. Water acts like a carrier medium for the nutrients, and with sandy soil, this can prove to be difficult.

If you know you are going to plant grass the top soil thickness can be at the 2 inches mark because grass roots grow more shallow than larger plants.

On the other hand, larger plants will require a thicker layer of soil for nutrient accessibility, especially when the roots start growing down into the soil.

To plant flowers or vegetables in your yard, consider adding composted manure or topsoil to increase nutrient content.

Can You Lay Lawn Turf On Top Of Sand

Yes, it’s possible to lay lawn turf on top of sand. The key is ensuring that the grass’s soil is not too wet or dry. If it’s too wet, the roots will rot; if it’s too dry, the grass won’t grow properly. It’s best to keep the soil between 50–60 percent moisture.

How to Lay Turf on Sandy Soil

The most common way to install turf is by laying it down first and then filling it around the edges with sand.

This method works well if you have a flat area that you want to cover. If you don’t have a flat area, you may need to dig out some of the sand and level the area first before applying the turf.

9 Tips when Laying Turf on Sandy Soil

  1. Start with an even base of sand. Use a shovel or tiller to remove all the loose sand.
  2. Lay the sod over the base of sand and tamp it in firmly until it is level.
  3. Fill any gaps with additional sand.
  4. Level the top of the sod with a rake.
  5. Mix up some topsoil and spread it evenly over the top of the sod.
  6. Knowing the turf’s dimensions, start from one side and start rolling it out.
  7. Cover the desired area fully.
  8. Identify gaps and gently pull in the turf to cover
  9. Water lightly.

Benefits of Topdressing a Lawn

Topdressing a lawn refers to the process of applying a mixture of different materials over the lawn’s surface. This gardening method has a lot of benefits but the one it’s most widely known for is producing stunning-looking lawns.

The best way to fertilize your lawn is by applying a top dressing. This means spreading a layer of organic matter (such as compost) across the surface of your lawn before planting seeds or seedlings.

It will provide nutrients for the grass and improve soil structure so that water drains better.

It will help prevent erosion by reducing runoff from rain or snowmelt. It also helps retain soil moisture which promotes healthy root growth.

Topdressing is one of the most important steps in maintaining a lush green lawn.

When to Apply Topdressing to a Lawn?

Apply top dressings during the spring and summer months. These seasons are ideal for growing grass because they are cooler and dryer than the fall and winter months.

You should apply top dressing every 3 to 5 years if you are using fertilizer products containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur.

In case you are using a product that contains only nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, then it is advisable to apply top dressing once every year.

Other times you might need to apply top dressing include:

  • When you are starting new grass seedlings.
  • To fill a sink in the lawn where the soil has shrunk or become compacted
  • After mowing or trimming the lawn.
  • Before seeding a bare spot into a lawn.
  • In order to maintain the health of existing grass.

Tips for Topdressing Your Lawn

The best way to topdress your lawn is by cutting the existing grass down to the soil level. This is where the grass is cut so low that the soil beneath is exposed.

Rake the grass and use a mulcher. This will allow you to cut grass clippings into small pieces that can be mixed into the topdressing to give you more volume. The grass clippings will decompose quickly and add nutrients back into the soil.

Then identify the areas that will require more topdressing or soil to bring it up to be leveled with the rest of the lawn.

 Using compost, mature manure, or any nutrient-rich soil of choice, start layering the lawn and fill to a thickness of 2″.

You may not get the two inches thickness uniformly throughout the lawn, but that’s ok as long as it’s covered.

Types Of Lawn Top Dressing

The most common type of lawn top dressing is composted manure.

Composted manure contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, and sodium.

It also has trace amounts of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. This fertilizer works well because it provides nutrients that plants require but don’t always absorb from soil alone.


The compost bin is a great way to recycle food scraps into nutrient-rich soil. It’s easy to set up and requires little maintenance. Many commercial options are available if you don’t want to deal with it yourself.


The topsoil layer contains organic matter, nutrients, and microorganisms that hold moisture in the soil. It also provides a habitat for earthworms and other organisms that break down plant material into humus, which improves the quality of the soil.

These characteristics give topsoil its dark appearance which will undoubtlbly support healthy plant growth.

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