Prepare soil for turfing

Laying down new turf grass is an exciting project that can totally transform your yard. But beautiful, lush turf relies on diligent soil preparation first. Good soil establishes the foundation for healthy grass growth. Follow these key steps to properly prepare your soil before turfing.

Remove Existing Grass, Weeds and Debris

If you currently have lawn in the area, the first step is removing all existing grass, weeds and debris. Here are a few options:

Physical Removal – Manually pull out as much unwanted vegetation as possible. Be sure to dig out the entire root system to prevent regrowth. Rake thoroughly to remove any remaining grass or weed debris.

Herbicide Application – Apply a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate 2-3 weeks prior to turfing. This will kill off any lingering grass and weeds. Remove dead vegetation once browned.

Sod Cutter – For large areas, renting a sod cutter efficiently removes existing grass in strips. Dispose of the sod strips offsite.

Completely clearing away old growth allows your new turf to establish without competition.

Soil preparation for planting grass

Evaluate Drainage

Flooding or overly soggy soil causes turf failure. Check that your soil drains well by:

Digging several holes 12 inches deep – water should percolate and drain rather than pooling.

Examining the soil profile – quality turf soil is loose and crumbly up to 12 inches below the surface.

Assessing the slope – areas with at least a 2% slope facilitate drainage.

If drainage is inadequate, installFrench drains, rain gardens or drainage tilesto redirect excess water before laying turf.

Loosen Compacted Areas

Heavily compacted soil prevents grass roots from penetrating deeply and expanding properly. Use a shovel, rake or coring aerator tool to loosen compacted zones to a depth of at least 6 inches.

Breaking up tightly packed soil improves drainage and oxygen circulation to roots as well.

Remove Rocks, Debris and Weeds

Carefully rake through the site and remove all rocks, sticks, leaves, roots or other debris. These can create lumps and indentations in the finished turf.

Also eliminate ANY remaining weeds – even small roots left behind regrow quickly. It’s imperative to start with the cleanest slate possible.

Prepare soil for turfing


Till In Compost and Fertilizer

Spread 2-3 inches of quality compost over the entire turf area. Using a rototiller, thoroughly mix the compost down into the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches.

Compost lightens and enriches the soil structure to facilitate healthy rooting and growth.

Also till in an all-purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10 at the recommended application rate. This infuses key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to feed newly establishing grass plants.

Level and Grade the Soil Surface

Use a landscaping rake to smooth out humps, divots and uneven areas across the turf zone. Establish a uniform grade sloping away from any buildings for drainage.

Level soil allows the turf to knit together seamlessly and prevents low or high spots later on.

Perform Final Debris Removal

Carefully rake over the area again to remove any remaining rocks or debris that was unearthed during tilling and grading.

Pick these out completely for the smoothest, safest turf substrate.

The soil is now perfectly primed for laying sod or seeding new grass! With proper preparation, your new turf will thrive for years to come.


Preparing soil properly before installing new turf grass is a critical investment. Follow these key steps – clearing away old growth, assessing drainage, loosening compacted zones, removing debris, tilling in amendments, leveling and grading. Taking time upfront results in a healthy, uniform, lush lawn that brings joy for years to come. With a optimally prepared soil base, your new turf is set up for success!

By p ly

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