Is sand good to fill in low spots in lawn?

Having low spots in your lawn can be frustrating. The dips collect water and turn into muddy messes after rain. Filling in low spots helps level your lawn for a more uniform appearance and improved drainage.

Adding sand is a common solution for fixing low areas in lawns. But is it the right material for the job? Sand has benefits and drawbacks when used as infill for lawn low spots.

The Benefits of Using Sand to Fill Lawn Low Spots

Filling low spots with sand offers several potential advantages:

  • Sand levels the lawn – Sand can help raise the grade in sunken areas to match the rest of the turf.
  • Sand improves drainage – Its free-draining nature prevents water from pooling in low spots.
  • Sand loosens compacted soil – Mixing sand into heavy or compressed soils improves aeration and permeability.
  • Sand is inexpensive – Basic builders sand is an affordable material for DIYers on a budget.
  • Sand conforms to the existing lawn – It forms a natural surface that blends with surrounding turf grasses.

The grading and draining capabilities of sand make it a popular choice for filling small lawn depressions. The particle size and shape allow it to pack tightly and raise low areas. Excess water can readily drain down through sand, instead of puddling on the surface. This helps prevent muddy spots.

Sand also benefits the soil structure when mixed into densely compacted clay soils. The small sand grains physically separate the clay particles and open up air space. This improves drainage, nutrient delivery, and root growth in the soil profile.

Lastly, sand is relatively cheap, especially compared to trucked-in topsoil. Basic sand sold at home improvement stores typically costs $20-$50 per cubic yard. So it can be an economical solution for fixing low spots across your entire yard.

Potential Drawbacks of Sand for Lawn Low Spots

Despite its advantages, using sand as infill material also has some potential drawbacks:

  • Weeds – Sand lacks organic matter needed for healthy turf. Weeds may colonize bare sand patches.
  • Dust and splash – Pure sand can become dusty when dry and splash onto sidewalks when wet.
  • Compaction – Without proper soil structure underneath, sand can re-compact over time.
  • Uneven settling – Sand may settle at different rates across the infilled area.
  • Too much drainage – Excess sand can drain water too quickly from lawn soils.

The most significant concern with filling low spots solely with sand is that it lacks organic matter. Sand itself has no nutrient value for grass plants. Bare sand patches are prime areas for weeds like crabgrass to take hold.

Sand also readily splashes and scatters. So sandy infill areas often erode from wind and rain impact. This leaves bare spots and creates dusty buildup on nearby walkways.

While sand improves dense clay soils initially, it can re-compact over time. Traffic and irrigation cause particle settling. This negates the original benefits of sand amendments.

Different sinking rates may also leave uneven grades across the top-filled area. And in sandy native soils, adding more sand provides too much drainage for turfgrass to thrive.

Best Practices for Using Sand as Lawn Low Spot Filler

If you wish to use sand for filling depressions in your lawn, some best practices will help avoid potential issues:

  • Test soil texture – Determine your native soil type before adding sand amendments.
  • Mix sand thoroughly into soil – Blend sand 6-8 inches down into the existing soil.
  • Include organic matter – Add compost to enrich sand patches with nutrients and humus.
  • Stabilize the surface – Cover sand with straw or erosion control mats when seeding.
  • Seed and fertilize – Quickly establish turfgrass and nurture growth over sandy areas.

Testing your soil first gives insight on its particle size and pore space. This helps determine how much sand potentially makes sense for your lawn’s condition. Clay-based soils usually benefit from more sand content, while sandy soils won’t improve much with extra sand.

Rather than just top-dressing low spots, thoroughly mix-in sandy amendments several inches deep. This integrates the sand into the native soil and prevents stratified layers from forming under the surface.

Always combine sand with ample organic matter too. Materials like compost, peat moss, manure, or leaf mold provide nutrients for establishing grass in amended areas. Organics also retain moisture and support soil biology.

Newly seeded sand patches are vulnerable to erosion and drying out. Cover the spots with straw mulch or erosion control mats while grass establishes. This minimizes any potential washout or dust blowing.

Turfgrass grows best when kept moist and fertilized, especially over sandy soils. Monitor moisture levels. And apply proper starter fertilizer and frequent nitrogen to nourish rapid turf coverage.

Topsoil vs. Sand for Filling Lawn Low Spots

Beyond sand, imported topsoil is another common material for filling in sunken areas of lawns. Topsoil contains organic matter and a blended texture ideal for growing thick turfgrass. But how does it compare to using sand as infill?

Here’s an overview of key differences between sand and topsoil for filling lawn low spots:

Sand Topsoil
  • Very fast drainage
  • Readily compacts over time
  • Prone to erosion and dust
  • Provides no nutrients
  • Affordable
  • Balanced moisture retention
  • Resists compaction
  • Less prone to erosion
  • Nutrient-rich
  • More expensive than sand

Sand fills low spots quickly but provides no long term benefits for healthy turf growth. Topsoil has ideal texture and nutrients for lush grass. But costs more to purchase and haul than basic sand.

To get the benefits of both materials, a 50/50 sand-topsoil blend is often ideal DIY infill. The mixture fills low spots effectively while supplying some organic matter. Simply mix equal parts sand and quality topsoil in a wheelbarrow or cement mixer before spreading it across depressions.

Alternatives to Sand for Filling Lawn Low Spots

In addition to topsoil, other handy materials can amend sand or replace it entirely as infill for lawn low areas:


Compost improves all soil types and provides vital organic matter for turfgrass growth. Incorporating 2-3 inches of compost into low spots before seeding boosts moisture, nutrients, and soil biology. The rich humus in compost also helps loosen compacted subsoils.

Peat Moss

Peat moss offers similar benefits to compost, though less nutrient value. The spongy texture of peat moss lightens heavy soils and retains moisture well. Mix peat thoroughly into low spots as an amendment or use as a thin top-dressing/mulch over seeded areas.


Animal manures like cow, horse, chicken, or rabbit add beneficial organic matter to sandy fill areas. Make sure manure is fully composted before application. Then mix 1-2 inches into the top 6 inches of soil when filling low spots.

Leaf Mold

Partially decomposed leaves make excellent soil amendment called leaf mold. Leaf mold retains moisture, adds humus, and loosens compacted soils similarly to compost. It also contains micronutrients that benefit establishing lawns.

Lawn Soil

Packaged lawn soil and turf mixes provide an alternative to sand-topsoil blends. These products blend specific ratios of sand, topsoil, and compost ideal for growing thick grass. Using quality bagged lawn soil avoids calculating and mixing amendments yourself.

Step-by-Step Process for Filling Low Spots with Sand

Follow this basic process if using sand as infill material for your lawn’s low areas:

  1. Measure low spots – Use a lawn level or straight board to map out low areas needing fill.
  2. Water the lawn – Thoroughly moisten low spots a day before filling to prevent soil shifting.
  3. Calculate needed sand – Measure depth x length x width to determine cubic feet of sand required.
  4. Incorporate sand – Spread and till sand into low spots, mixing with top 4-6 inches of soil.
  5. Grade smooth – Rake blended fill flat, matching surrounding lawn height.
  6. Seed bare spots – Apply grass seed to establish new turf growth.
  7. Mulch and fertilize – Cover seeded spots with straw. Apply starter fertilizer.
  8. Water frequently – Maintain moist soil while new grass germinates and covers.

Carefully measuring low areas helps determine how many yards of sand you’ll need. Remember to account for blending sand into the soil profile, not just topping the surface. Moistening soil first prevents heaving.

Aim to incorporate sandy fill about 4-6 inches deep into problem spots for proper integration. This may require multiple rounds of tillering to blend thoroughly with underlying soil structure.

Newly exposed soil should be promptly reseeded to avoid erosion and weed growth. Careful watering and fertilizing are especially crucial when establishing turfgrass over sand-amended lawn spots.

Common Questions about Sand for Filling Lawn Low Spots

How much sand do I need to fill lawn low spots?

You’ll need roughly 1 cubic yard of sand for every 150-200 sq ft of lawn at 1 inch depth. Measure low spot’s length x width x desired fill depth in inches. Convert to cubic feet, then to cubic yards (1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet).

What type of sand is best for lawns?

Look for coarse builder’s sand, usually called concrete sand. Avoid fine grades like play sand or sand with organic material screened out. Match native soil texture – add medium sand to sandy soils, coarser sand to clay soils.

Will sand wash out of lawn low spots?

Pure sand is prone to erosion, especially on slopes. Stabilize with grass seed or sod. Use erosion mats/netting if needed. Top-dressing with compost or peat moss also helps minimize washout.

How do you keep sand from washing away?

Always seed or sod immediately after adding sand. Cover exposed sand with straw mulch to absorb raindrop impact. Use silt fence perimeter controls if area is sloped. Lightly water newly filled spots to settle sand.

Can you just add sand on top of grass?

Not recommended. A light top-dressing up to 1/4 inch may work. But deeper layers will lack soil contact and smother existing grass. Thoroughly till sand at least 4 inches down into the soil profile instead.

How long does it take for grass to grow in sand?

With adequate water, fertilizer, and ideal growing temperatures, newly seeded grass takes 1-3 weeks to establish over sand fill areas. Spot seeding isolated patches grows faster than large-scale overseeding.


Filling low spots in your lawn with sand has some clear advantages, such as quick drainage, affordability, and availability. But there are also limitations if not properly amended with organic matter and stabilized once applied.

While sand alone restores level grading, the lack of natural soil structure and nutrients can leave filled areas prone to compaction, erosion, and weeds over time. Proper mixing and establishment techniques help maximize the benefits of sand for fixing sunken spots.

For best results, combine sand with organic amendments like quality topsoil, compost, peat moss, or manure. Test existing soil first to determine suitable sand quantities. Stabilize and seed sandy areas promptly. And nurture new grass growth with attentive watering and fertilization.

With informed usage, sand can be an economical solution for smoothing out problem low spots to improve drainage and appearance of your lawn.

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