What Type of Sand for Lawns? (Leveling + Top Dressing)

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Written By: Mark Marino

a Massachusetts Core Applicator License holder and owner/operator of Lawn Phix,

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Whether you’re a homeowner needing to cover exposed tree roots and fix divots in your lawn or work on golf courses and sports fields, adding sand top dressing to your lawn can improve the leveling over time. While adding sand does not add any nutritional value, it can be mixed with compost and organic matter to improve the soil composition over time. So, what type of sand for lawns?

What sand is best for lawns?

The best types of sand for lawns are masonry sand or play sand. These types are the finest sands, sifted and screened of pebbles and rocks. For larger areas of lawn, mason sand can be ordered and delivered in bulk (by the yard). And for smaller areas, play sand can be purchased at local hardware and big box stores in 50-pound bags.

It’s common practice for golf courses to use a lot of sand to topdress putting greens. Fill sand is applied on golf greens to fill aeration holes. Adding sand allows for more air exchange (to penetrate deeper into the root zone) water infiltration and draining, and to help promote deeper root growth.

For homeowners, top dressing sand can be incorporated into a lawn care program to help level a lawn over time. Mason sand or play sand can also be mixed with loam, dirt, topsoil, or even garden or potting soil to help repair and level larger divots and bumps in a lawn. Note that depending on the lawn size and the size of the divots will dictate how many yards of sand you will need. Larger ruts may take several applications plus overseeding to make the lawn completely level.

When to add sand to your lawn

If you have a riding lawn mower and mow in the same direction, you may develop ruts from the tires. Over time, these ruts – when driven over in the same location – can become deeper and scalping can occur as the lawn becomes more uneven.

Lawn parties and outdoor events can also cause divots throughout the lawn. Every summer we rent inflatables such as bouncy houses/water slide combo inflatables that always compact our backyard soil and leave the area very bumpy with deep divots.

Fine sand is best to use to help level a lawn. Thin layers (about a half inch) of multiple applications of sand can help level an uneven or bumpy lawn over time. Sand top dressing can also

Top dressing Material

Ensure the thatch layer is less than a half inch. Otherwise,

Spreading sand: Apply a thin layer (about a half inch) while the turf grass is actively growing (i.e. spring or early fall).

My lawn size is about 9,000 square feet. When I fill in bare spots and divots in my lawn, I use a combination of play sand and potting soil. For a big lawn and sports fields, mason sand is used by the yard and often spread with ride-on spreaders.

Sand for Lawns FAQs

What kind of sand should I use on my lawn?

To avoid rocks and small pebbles, use fine screened sand such as masonry sand or play sand. Beach sand is more coarse and may contain debris from the beach (pebbles, shell pieces, etc.)

What sand is best for top dressing a lawn?

If you need to topdress a larger area. This is the type of sand used on putting greens at the golf course.

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Author's Note: this piece has been updated for accuracy since its first publication on
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Author: Mark Marino
My name is Mark Marino, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Lawn Phix. With a passion for lawn care and turf nutrition for over a decade, I've dedicated countless hours to correcting soil and perfecting lawns. Today, my expertise, backed by formal courses at UMass Extension Pesticide Education, allows me to offer top-tier lawn care services and advice. I am a fully licensed and insured lawn care applicator in Massachusetts, specializing in comprehensive turf nutrition, weed control, and lawn pest control. My license number is AL-0053865. Contact me at [email protected] or +1 (508) 500-8402.

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