Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Spread Topsoil

By Daniel Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017
Spreading topsoil may be tedious but is worth the effort.
garden tools image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com

Spreading topsoil over an area of your yard or garden can provide a better growing medium, which in turn makes for healthier plants and a more beautiful lawn. Topsoil is the top layer of soil down to a depth of approximately 10 inches. Roots from plants, trees, flowers and other vegetation obtain the majority of their nutrients from this section of the soil. The key to spreading topsoil is to use generous amounts and work in small sections.

Insert gardening stakes in four corners of a work area that is about 5 square feet. The stakes should be approximately the same height. Working in small sections will make it easier to spread the topsoil evenly.

Fill a wheelbarrow with topsoil. Add organic compost and mix well if you will use the area for a flowerbed or vegetable garden.

Use a garden rake to remove large rocks or other debris from the work area you sectioned off. Remove leaves, sticks and twigs to provide a better gardening area when you spread the topsoil.

Shovel topsoil from the wheelbarrow into small mounds throughout the work area. Use the gardening stakes to keep the mounds relatively the same size. Use about one shovelful of topsoil per mound per 1 square foot of work area.

Spread the topsoil in an even layer throughout the work area, using a garden hoe and raking it back and forth in smooth strokes.

Compact the topsoil using a lawn roller. Check for dips or uneven patches using a level. If the area is on a slope, lightly spray the topsoil with water from a garden hose to dampen it before using the lawn roller. This will help the topsoil adhere to the work area.

Fill in uneven spots with additional topsoil and repeat the compacting process with the lawn roller.

Repeat Steps 1 through 7 for additional work-area sections as needed.


Things You Will Need

  • Gardening stakes
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Gardening hoe
  • Gardening rake
  • Lawn roller
  • Level
  • Water
  • Gardening hose


  • Place decorative borders at the bottom of sloped areas to prevent the topsoil from washing downhill.
  • Plant ground cover or flowerbeds to keep topsoil erosion to a minimum.


  • Do not add lime to topsoil because it can become too alkaline to sustain healthy plant growth such as shrubs, trees, grass or vegetables.

About the Author


Daniel Smith graduated from technical school in 1993 and has been writing since 2005. His has written numerous articles for the instructional website called eHow in areas including gardening, home improvement, celebrating special events and health-related topics.