I've just bought a house and am trying to renovate the garden lawn. The issue is that the soil is a mix of rocks, bricks, plastic, dead grass, weeds and very dry soil. It seems to be just packed full of builders scrap fill.

Id like to lay a new turf but of course it'd be pointless laying it onto this kind of soil. What do I do to prepare it for a turf?

I've considered trying to remove it all and starting from scratch but dont have the time or funds to do so.

At the moment I can only think of digging down, using a rotavator, enough to then fill it with a cheap filler that is better for topsoil and then lay turf onto that? enter image description here

  • 2
    Sorry, but there isn't any cheap shortcut here. "Builders scrap" might include some large plastic sheets or bags that were originally wrapping for other supplies. If you don't get rid of all the buried junk, you might get new turf to look OK for a few months, but it won't last for years. You can't tell if you need "more filler" to make up the level until you know how much garbage you have to remove. For example a big buried plastic sheet will completely screw up what happens to rain water, but it doesn't take up any significant amount of volume of soil.
    – alephzero
    Jul 14, 2019 at 21:22
  • What part of the world are you in?
    – Bamboo
    Jul 15, 2019 at 14:45
  • @Bamboo Im in London
    – LoriDori
    Jul 16, 2019 at 22:25

1 Answer 1


London UK presumably; if that's the case, the soil there will be very dry currently (I live in London myself). Because there is a central concrete path, I'm guessing this is an older property; decades ago, it used to be traditional for people to bury anything they didn't want in the ground, and that might be why you're finding so much rubbish in the soil.

You really need a hose and sprinkler to soak it all to get it nice and damp, which will make it a lot easier to dig over. Then, using a garden fork, dig the whole thing, removing rubble, plastic, weed roots, bricks, larger stones/pebbles. Using a rotovator won't be particularly helpful at this stage - they don't really go deep enough and you may damage the blades if there's lots of rubble type rubbish in there, not to mention it will chop up weed roots, and that might mean lots more weeds over time. Once you've done that, rake it level and tamp it down, leave it to settle for a week or so, then you'll be able to tell whether you need to buy in some topsoil to raise the level a bit to lay turf evenly. In that time, you may find weed regrowth; that should be removed prior to turfing.

The optimum time for laying turf in the UK is October, but it can be done any time IF you are able to keep it well watered, so a hose and sprinkler will be essential for that too.

  • This is perfect thank you so much!
    – LoriDori
    Jul 17, 2019 at 20:33

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