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Possibly a very stupid question but friends and family have said it doesn't really matter so i thought i'd ask people that actually have some knowledge in this area!!


I laid turf last year and to cut a long story short a combination of not enough topsoil put down beforehand, a pet dog with a penchant for subterranean activities and a harsh winter have left me taking the easy if more expensive option and deciding to relay turf this year.

My question to you all is this...

Would I be wise to take up the turf and flip it over before adding more topsoil and re-turfing as seems logical if a lot more work,Or as some friends have said just topsoil on top of the old turf and then re-turf on the assumption that the old grass will die and provide further nutrition?


Many thanks for any advice.


Apart from the help from the dog - do I gather that there may have been drainage problems - if so I'd get that sorted first, we may have more wet winters.  Have you got a clay 'pan' beneath your lawn which needs breaking up?


The drainage issue seems much less of an issue than I'd assumed to be honest, just need to see what's the best way to go forward now
Scott Edwards

There seems to be mixed opinions online with some saying yes and others no. I'm no expert but would say that I would remove the old grass first and take time to carefully prepare the ground: weeding the area, rotavating the soil, adding a good layer of top soil mixed with sand etc. My concerns with laying new turf on top of old are that any weeds that are present will grow through, any problems of compaction won't be solved by rotavating the soil, and that the old grass will compete with the new grass for nutrients before it dies off. As I say, I'm no expert but would prefer to do a bit more work and give the new grass the best possible start. I would also consider waiting until the autumn before laying new turf as it won't need to be watered as much as will over the summer if laid now.


Whom ever said gardening was easy? well it is not and lawn laying can be heavy work, think about it once laid properly it will last years my front lawn is 30 years old and with careful maintenance as good as any in the area. Last year on a programme about bodged workmanship they showed some gardens where a chap had laid lawn, basically he rotovated the old grass raked it out and laid the rolls of new on top, it was a total failure and when asked said well it should have worked.

A lawn like a dog is for life and worth the effort of correctly laying it down, you can also get grass rolls to suit all purposes Bowling green down to Dogs and Kids, no point in putting down a bowling green for the latter two.

It is a good time to put down a lawn although my side lawn was put down in December and is now nearly eight years old, so apart from a very hard winter it can work.

The old grass can be lifted stacked in a corner for a couple of years and you will have a wonderful potting media. A few bags of top soil or compost raked out and left to settle then choose the correct mix of grass for your purpose and roll it out and  water it well for a week or more depending on the weather. No it is not easy but well worth the effort, my lawns will see me out.


its not good practice too... proper ground preparation is to be the prefered option if you want a decent lawn.

I have a similar problem, I will remove the turf and add at least 6 to 10 inches of top soil all over the lawn area. There's only one way, that's the right way.

Cheers guys, budget will probably stop me from doing it by the book but i think rather than just flipping the turf, I'll try to break it up as much as possible before adding as much soil as my my limited budget will allow before laying new turf. 



Thanks very much for the replies all, much appreciated.

(even if it probably appears that I'm ignoring your good advice) 


That's fine Kinny - we all have budgets to try to work within - but it's good to know what 'best practice' is then you can make intelligent decisions about priorities.

Good luck with the lawn (and the dog) 

Let us know how you get on.

Haha thanks, well luckily the dog won't cause problems as he was a temporary foster dog, now e only have a 9 month old baby to worry about


Hence the low budget and urge to perhaps go for quickest result rather than best practice. Will post some picture after I've finished and it's hopefully bedded in in case anyone else comes here with a similar question.


thanks again all.


The baby will do less damage than the dog - well for a while anyway! 

Not worthwhile spending a fortune on expensive turf either while children are going to be using it. You can still have a nice lawn without spending loads- a feed in spring and keeping it regularly mown will be fine until you reclaim it for yourself and have your velvety green sward 


If you can bear to be without a lawn for a ittle while, it's much  cheaper to do it with seed - by the time baby is running about you can have a lovely soft green sward.  

But good luck, whichever method you choose and keep us posted - we've all been there! 


last year we put a lot of effort into our very small lawn,( 40ft x 15 ft ). Well dug over, remains of Tarmac car park dug up, and loads of topsoil. Good quality Rolawn was laid, but soon started to look thin. It was well watered, we are retired so no kids ( or dogs ) using it. It is now as bad or worse than before we started. Husband thinking of sand and fine grit mix on top of remaining lawn, no weeds as Greenthumb look after it, then topsoil and more Rolawn. Do you think this would work .

many thanks


we laid a turf path last year .. very well.. BUT then my hubby cut it to soon ripping the grass out ..... so i got a professional turfier to relay .... all he has done is exactly that straight over the old ... no preparation.... will it take if we water regularly and don't cut     


It is all about the preparation with lawns, if you turf over rubbish soil, expect rubbish results. Consider this.. for optimal lawn conditions the roots of the lawn will extend 6 to 8 inch, so to be on the safe side, especially with heavy clay/stoney soils think 10". If you have had a lawn returfed only for it to fail, typically the soil is too shallow for the roots, sticking half inch to an inch on top and returfing isn't going to do anything aside from fail again.. Dig the plot, typically to a depth of 8-10inch, remove any rocks above an inch or so, add sharp sand, add more sharp sand, add even more and mix it in thoroughly, rake to level and a decent tilth, then lay lawn using boards. Keep watered for 6 weeks, don't mow for 8-10, first cut should be highest, leave a couple of days, then cut same height, then following day one step lower, keep watering. When you start cutting, a feed once a week. Ideally this will produce what you require, but due to soil conditions and more importantly light as in shade, you will have mixed results. Obviously if you have mad free draining soil add a little organic stuff rather than sand, like I said, lawns aren't something that can just be 'done' and there it is forever, it's a labour of love that requires constant attention, even worse if you have no kids/pets and want an ultrafine lawn with high fescue because it's to be looked at not walked on!!!

if you lay new turf over old turf, if you water well it will root and grow. .No real problem with this if you do basic maintenance ( spiking raking fertilising etc at a later stage ) but maybe the level of the new surface may be higher. Over time the underneath of the new turf may become quite compact with thatch as the old turf dies off.  Best to skim off the old turf first and slap down the new stuff.  good luck

As a consequence of my lawn  resembling a paddy field I had land drains installed last September. Despite the incessant rain during the Winter the cure has worked.

Unfortunately the people who did the job left the lawn in a mess so they suggested putting down 2" of topsoil hoping that the old grass  would grow through.

Despite the drainage issues my lawn was reasonably good

I cannot see many new green shoots as yet and I wonder if I added another 2 inches of topsoil and laid new turf would be it be a success?



I would have tgought that two inches of soil on tge old grass will have finished it off.

On the other hand, it will give you a base for new turf.