Guide To Leveling Yard With Sand

Guide To Leveling Yard With Sand

If you’ve ever gone to a golf course or driving range and swung a club as I do, you’ve most likely produced your fair share of divots that needed to be filled in with a sand and seed combination. Using sand to level off your grass follows a similar reasoning. Whether you place bumps, divots, or ruts in your grass on purpose or not, it is unlikely to be exactly full and level. You may revitalize your grass ( tall fescue or bluegrass, centipede or bermuda grass ) by using the correct sand to fill in any low places or faded patches.

A coating of sand may significantly impact the appearance and durability of your lawn by assisting with compaction and drainage. Sand combinations, on the other hand, are not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Some sand combinations are rocky/gravelly, while others are extremely fine and powdery. I’ll discuss what I believe to be the greatest sand for lawn leveling, and you may be the judge.

Leveling Lawn With Sand

If you want your lawn to look like a golf course, you must keep it that way. And that includes, among other things, sand leveling. Sand leveling may appear to be a modern technique, although it is one of the oldest grass treatments being used. And as I’ve learned, leveling is only one of the numerous advantages of topdressing with sand, which also includes increased drainage, hardness, and thatch reduction. This article will describe these benefits, the disadvantages, and the specific stages and concerns of undertaking this project.

How Much Sand Do I Need To Level My Yard

Although research has indicated that light and frequent sand top dressing is beneficial, it is advised that some preliminary application calculations be performed. There are two key rates to consider: the sand application rate for each topdressing event and the overall annual rate. As the number of applications rises, the rate required for each application reduces.

The goal is to apply enough sand to keep up with lawn development while limiting organic matter collection. Lighter rates provide advantages such as ease of absorption and less mower wear. During the active growth season, golf courses have traditionally applied 2-4 cubic feet of sand per 1,000 square feet every three to four weeks (Rieke, 1999).

According to my study, 1 cu ft of every 1,000 sq ft is a fair starting point for times of consistent expansion. This is very manageable for me. My spreader ( Drop and broadcast ) has a capacity of roughly 50 pounds; thus, it takes 7 loads to cover my entire grass. My leveling needs to define my plan for this year. I purchased 3 tons of sand for my 3500 square foot lawn, which is probably approximately 50 cubic feet given how damp it was.

That is around 14.3 cubic feet/1000 square feet. I purchased three tons because it was the cheapest method to get a modest quantity delivered with a dump trailer. I had about 15 cubic feet of sand left over when I finished leveling. This was sufficient for two hefty topdressing applications. I believe this is the ideal quantity for my grass in the future (1 ton/1000 sq ft).

When To Level Yard With Sand

Early fall is the greatest time to conduct a lawn leveling task, especially if you are overseeding, because it is a season of vigorous development and will allow the grass to recover before winter arrives. Allow your lawn at least 3-4 additional mowings before severe weather. If Fall is not a possibility, Spring is the next best alternative, as long as soil temperatures are above 50° F (10° C).

Also read: How to Remove Rocks from Yard?

Advantages Of Leveling Yard With Sand 

The main advantage of topdressing with sand is that it is the simplest and most efficient approach to level your grass. Having utilized topsoil and different topdressing mixtures throughout the years, I can say that sand is by far the simplest to distribute (whether wet or dry). Furthermore, once applied, it has great structure and is not prone to settling or compaction, as are topdressing mixtures containing organic matter.

Sand treatments can help firm up moist surfaces over time, improving maintenance and durability. The benefit is particularly noticeable in the spring and during periods of heavy rain. Sand-topped lawns may be utilized again quickly after rain, but natural soil lawns (those containing silt and clay) cannot. When a sand layer becomes wet, it retains its strength considerably better, allowing a lawn to be utilized without being destroyed.

Native soils are virtually always incapable of maintaining a high level of activity without getting compacted, and this happens more quickly when they are wet or almost saturated. When soils get compacted, drainage slows, and lawn quality degrades quickly. Other significant advantages of sand topdressing include reduced thatch and organic matter, reduced earthworm castings, enhanced roots, and early spring green-up.

Given these benefits, and frequently utilized in the design and building of golf courses and, increasingly, sporting fields. Although this is beyond most households’ financial and technical resources, it is the best-case situation. You may enhance the performance of a sand system by developing it from the ground up. This typically comprises drainage tile and stone to a depth of 12-18 inches.

Disadvantages Of Leveling Yard With Sand

The main disadvantages of sand topdressing are price, labor, and equipment. The amount of sand used in each application is essential. Golf courses, for example, may strive for a sand layer that is four to six inches deep. This may add up. Larger properties may demand the use of specialist top-dressing applicators and utility vehicles.

Because sand is heavy, this is a labor vs. equipment tradeoff. One cubic foot of dry sand weighs around 100 pounds (if it is wet closer to 130 pounds).Homeowners may choose to rent a topdressing applicator (with large or small properties). Another factor to consider is mower wear and tear. Mower blades and bed knives can be dulled by sand (in the case of reel mowers).

This hasn’t been a huge issue for me since I have the luxury of letting my grass grow a little longer as the sand settles.The last drawback is the possibility of higher irrigation requirements due to sand’s diminished water-holding capacity. As a result, irrigation systems are strongly suggested. This hasn’t been an issue for me yet, but next summer will be a better test.

Sand For Yard Leveling

As previously said, the ideal sand for grass leveling is one with a fine granularity. Mason sand and play sand are two of the most prevalent fine grit sands. These are sands that have been properly filtered to eliminate bigger sand and gravel particles. They both have extremely few grains and will distribute evenly. Let’s compare these various sand combinations.

1. Mason Sand

Mason sand

Mason sand (also known as mortar sand or brick sand) is commonly used to build smooth concrete and mortar for placing bricks. It’s also used to line volleyball courts and playgrounds on occasion. This is because it is one of the best construction sands available. Mason sand is effective for grass leveling because the microscopic grains may penetrate the turf canopy.

2. Play Sand

Play sand

Play sand has qualities that are quite similar to mason sand, although it has a little finer grain. This is because it has been significantly more processed. Play sand is ideal for lawn leveling since it is dusty and soft, and it is also easy to apply and work into your grass.

But there are a few things to keep in mind. Because play sand is so tiny, it washes away more quickly and, in extreme circumstances, may choke your grass. Applying little quantities at a time is an effective strategy to treat these concerns.

Steps To Leveling Yard With Sand

Although sand leveling requires some manual labor, the procedure is quite easy.

Step 1: Keep your lawn short

To begin, it is advised that you trim your grass as short as possible. This makes later sand incorporation easy.

Step 2: Aerate and dethatch the soil

As with other lawn restorations, it is recommended to start by aerating and dethatching. Core aeration eliminates soil plugs from the ground, leaving pathways for air, water, and our top-dressing mixture to reach the surface. If your grass is short or you have already topdressed with sand, I recommend cleaning up the cores. The use of a roller after aeration helps to reduce any heaving that may have occurred. Dethatching removes extra thatch and opens up the lawn for overseeding. In my experience, this isn’t always necessary.

Step 3: Apply Top-Dressing

You’re now ready to begin. Working in tiny parts, begin dividing the sand into small mounds with a shovel and wheelbarrow (or cart). Spread the sand roughly using anything flat, such as the back side of a landscaping or leveling rake, pressing it into the aeration holes and filling low places. Rake the top-dressing into your lawn as much as possible until you can see your grass through it. A push broom can assist with this, as can a level lawn.

Ensure the sand is no deeper than 1″ (ideally 12″ or less) than the grass. In an ideal scenario, applying dry sand to a clean, dry grass surface aids the substance in filling the gaps. Dry sand flows more easily into holes, but damp sand tends to clump at the tops of the holes. It takes more work to entirely cover holes with sand when this happens.

Rain or heavy dew might sabotage the process and necessitate further brushing, raking, and watering to mix the sand. Allowing the sand to dry in the sun for a few hours typically results in it being simpler to integrate. Work the sand in until your grass is visible and the depth is uniform. To properly absorb the sand, I prefer to drag the grass in alternate directions.

I use my 50lb capacity drop spreader for minor topdressing of my lawn. Allowing the sand to bake in the sun for a few hours on a tarp effectively dries it out. Drop-style top dresses are typically employed in big areas and have a great degree of accuracy. This operator uses 1 cubic foot of sand every 1,000 square feet.

Remove the current sod in low locations that require more than an inch of top-dressing to prevent subterranean rot that might harm new grass seedlings. Replace the old sod or reseed the area after filling in the low region. You may also handle deeper issues by gradually building them up.

Fill the aeration holes to the surface. Partially filled aeration holes provide a rough surface and reduce the overall effectiveness of core aeration. The holes will eventually fill with something, most likely organic materials rather than sand. After a few days, and will often collect within the perforations. After a few days, a second application of sand at a lesser rate is occasionally required to top over the holes. Going back with your rake and smoothing out any depressions or bumps that may form is also an excellent practice.

Step 4: Overseed as needed

If necessary, replace grass in any bare patches. Depending on the type of grass, existing grass should be able to grow through up to an inch of top dressing. Check out my piece about overseeding. It is crucial to utilize seed rather than sod because sod planted over sand can generate a perched water table, which severely inhibits soil penetration. Repeat treatments may be required in troubled areas.

Step 5: Irrigate and fertilize the turf to promote recovery

It is essential to water and use fertilizers like bark or mulch on your lawn depending upon on your yard followed by leveling to assist in better integrating the stand and accelerate healing. Sand leveling and aeration can cause substantial drought stress on the grass, especially in the late afternoon.

Frequent irrigation and extra hand watering throughout the day for many days are often required to promote and speed grass healing. Because sand is inert, a starting fertilizer is especially suggested for overseeding. A fertilizer treatment five to seven days after restoration at a rate of 0.25 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet speeds up grass recovery even further.


Leveling your yard requires some effort, but it is one of the most reliable strategies to improve the health of your grass. As long as you can get a few more mowings in before winter, early autumn is the optimum time to accomplish it. If the weather permits, you may even begin the job in the spring. Overall, use fine grit sand and apply a little at a time. If your grass has difficulty in places, add some dirt and seed it.

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