How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

By Harry RamosLast update: 2024-07-11

If depleted soil is the main cause of your poorly-grown turf, don’t miss out on this article! While there are many reasons leading to bad soil, fixing it is quite easy as long as you follow our 5-step guides.

Without further ado, below is how to grow grass in depleted soil:

How To Grow Grass In Depleted Soil

Test The Soil

You’ll need:

  • An envelope
  • A plastic bag or wet newspaper
  • A bucket
  • A garden shovel


Press a garden shovel 6”-8” deep to the depleted soil and collect samples at ten different spots throughout the area that you intend to grow grass in.

Store all the samples in a bucket and give them a good mix.

Transfer the mixture into a sealable or Ziploc plastic bag or wet newspaper, then put it inside an envelope.

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

Send it to the local soil analysis laboratory.

After receiving results, read the soil analysis to know what type of your soil, its nutrient portions, and its pH levels.

Find The Right Treatment For Depleted Soil

To deal with pH problems

The optimum soil pH levels that help the grass to quickly get nutrients from it are between 6.0 and 7.0.

Beyond that range, the soil has high alkalinity; lower than that range, the soil has high acidity, which all impacts on the availability of nutrients to the turf.

To fix soil’s pH problems, you should find the right treatment.

Use elemental sulfur for too-high pH levels…

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

…and agricultural lime for too-low pH levels.

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

What you’ll need:

  • A water hose
  • A bucket or a lawn spreader (to distribute treatment all over the soil; the choice depends on the lawn size)
  • A pair of work gloves
  • Elemental sulfur or lime


Put on the right gardening clothes and a pair of work gloves.

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

Transfer elemental sulfur or lime into a bucket (or a lawn spreader). With a bucket, spread the treatment manually or using a plastic cup. With a lawn spreader, push it over the depleted soil.

Finally, use a water hose to wet the soil, helping the treatment to go more deeply for optimal benefits.

Improve The Soil Compaction

Overly compacted soils or clay soils are poor in ventilation, which disturbs your grass to receive the required oxygen, water, and nutrients to thrive.

Aerating is the most effective solution to fix this issue.

You can use a lawn aeration service, or do it manually with an iron rake, or hire a lawn aerator, depending on your budget, the lawn size, and your desire.

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

Either way, the way it works is to leave numerous small 3”-6” deep holes in the soil to hence allow more nutrients, water, and oxygen to go deep down to the turf root system where they are truly in need. It also improves water drainage of the soil.

This task should be done once or twice per year or at least every 2 years.


This technique is to add a thin 1” deep layer of organic matter over the lawn to enhance soil’s drought resistance and water drainage. Besides, it can even out the surface as well as provide the turf with enough nutrients so that you don’t need to care for that much.

While there are many options of bagged lawn soil or top-dressing mixture in the market, you can DIY it to save more by mixing these ingredients:

  • Compost or peat
  • Topsoil or loam
  • Sharp sand

The portion of each depends on the soil type: reduce the amount of sharp sand if your soil is sandy; reduce the topsoil/loam if your soil is clay; mix them all equally if your soil is averagely loamy.

Extra notes:

For better results, it is important to pay attention to these things:

While the recommended thickness of a top-dressing layer on a lawn is no more than 1”, it could be more in lower spots. With too-deep areas, remain adding layers of top-dressing each year to build it up gradually

Use a hefty rake to spread the topsoil evenly

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

Water the top-dressed spots well at mist setting will help the organic matter breaks down faster, combining with frequently aerating or raking every 2-3 days

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

The best time to apply top-dressing on a lawn is in early spring or autumn

You can add fertilizer over the soil after top-dressing it; remember to remove debris and rocks before applying

Sow Grass Seeds

You’ll need:

  • A seed spreader or a bucket
  • A garden shovel
  • A water hose or watering can
  • Grass seeds

Cover the whole area with grass seeds by pouring them into a seed spreader, then evenly push the machine across the soil.

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

Use a shovel to cover the seed with 0.25” of mulch or topsoil.

How to Grow Grass in Depleted Soil?

Wet the area well by connecting a water hose to the closest faucet or using a watering can (depending on the lawn size). Remember to adjust the water force of the hose to the mist setting.


To renovate depleted soil, it could be months to years. Therefore, you should be patient. Frequently aerate and top-dress the lawn combining with an appropriate watering schedule depending on the grass growth and the weather.

Hopefully, this post was helpful to you to successfully grow grass in depleted soil. Thanks for reading!

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