New homeowners often consider various home improvement task, including relaying their lawn. One of the most common question on gardening forums often is “Is it possible to lay new turf over the existing lawn?”. The other frequently asked question is “Can you lay grass on concrete?“. Well, there are various opinions on the topic and it all depends on whether you want a quick way out, or to establish a healthy, lush grass.

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But almost any experienced or professional gardener will tell you that you’ll find it much easier to get healthier grass – and a better-looking lawn – by removing the old plants first.

Should laying new grass on an old turf be done?

The main problem with this job is that it can be difficult for the root system of your new lawn to grow in properly. Grass needs at least 6-8 inches of topsoil to be dug over before planting. Its roots need room to grow.

Following this, here’s what to expect when laying turf on turf:

New turf put over old turf will grow if you water it well and maintain it. However, over time you will see a gradual deterioration in the condition of your lawn. Because the old grass underneath dies off, the new turf will compact itself, making drainage and root growth difficult.

In fact, you’ll see this in any situation where there’s not enough room for the grassroots to grow down – newly built homes commonly have this problem. The builders don’t bother to make sure there’s a decent amount of topsoil before laying the rolls of grass down. The end result?

Will new turf grow successfully over old grass?

Laying new lawn on old turf can be a successful project. In fact, many gardeners in the U.S. seem to have found success when doing so. Some claim that simply rotovating the old grass and frequent watering can solve the problem…

But it’s really not recommended if you can avoid it.

If you have a professional on hand who’s willing to back up their opinion and their work with a guarantee, then by all means – consider the option. Otherwise, stick with doing things properly and properly remove the old and compacted turf before laying new sod.

How to lay new turf – the right way

Stage 1: Prepare the ground before laying turf

Whether you decide to lay artificial or real turf, you need to prepare the ground beforehand. If you already have a lawn area that you’re happy with, there are some ground preparation steps you can skip. For example, getting rid of old tree stumps or removing rubble.

With an area that’s been freshly stripped of its old turf, all you’ll likely need is some weed killer to get rid of unwanted growth and moss.

Stage 2: Leveling and adding topsoil

Again, if you’re happy with the site as-is, the amount of levelling you’ll have to do might be zero! In any case, there’s not necessarily a need to get out the old spirit level. A general slope can be beneficial when it comes to drainage, but if you want everything to be bowling-green flat – now is the time.

You’ll find it’s better in the long run to buy new topsoil to fill in any divots. It’s better to add more topsoil instead of trying to dig out other areas to compensate. This is the perfect method to level a lawn that’s already laid unless the voids are too deep.

When it comes to the amount of topsoil to aim for, you’ll want to make sure that your new grass has at least 6 inches of decent topsoil underneath. It’s even better if it’s 8 or even 10 inches thick. This is so that the roots can grow down properly.

Stage 3: Readying the topsoil

This will happen in two parts, with you doing the second part at least a week after the first. Firstly, you’ll need to dig over that 6-inch layer of topsoil you put down. Make sure there are no lumps or other obstructions.

Leave this for about a week, or 8-10 days, and then firm up the ground. Depending on the size of your lawn area, you can do this using your feet – or for larger areas, a garden roller.

Finally, the day before you plant your new lawn, make sure your topsoil looks firm and level.

Seems like too much work?

Hire professional turfing services instead.

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What to do with old lawn turf

If you’re wondering what to do with dug up grass, don’t throw it away. There’s no sense wasting the old turf that you’ve pulled up while preparing the ground your new lawn.

Pile it in an unobtrusive corner, leave it to settle, and in a few months to a year – or longer depending on the weather in your part of the world – you’ll have some great compost material for potted plants!

Final thoughts

So, can you lay new turf over an old lawn? Yes, you can. Should you? Probably not. With proper care, including spiking, fertilising, and raking later on down the line, you can get a lawn that won’t cause you any serious problems. But for the best results…

Always remove old turf and put it safely to one side before laying new grass.


Do leave a comment below if you feel you need more answers!

Header Image Source: Shutterstock / By SpeedKingz

  • Last update: August 8, 2019

Posted in All About the Lawn

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