Removing paving stones to lay a lawn

Hi all.

I plan on removing the paving stones in my back garden and replacing it with a lawn, in order to make a much more pleasant environment and encourage more biodiversity. I've lifted up one stone to investigate, and there is a lot of sand (presumably builder's sand) underneath. It's at least half a foot deep. Do I need to remove all of this and replace with topsoil in order for new turf to thrive? Or can I simply mix the topsoil I have with the sand, and lay the turf on that? I fear it's the former, but that might make the whole project untenable. Or can I lay topsoil on the sand without mixing it, and then lay turn onto that? Any advice would be hugely appreciated. I'm clearly a complete novice at this and can't seem to find much online.

Thanks in advance!



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 58,715

    Hello Matthew image

    I would mix the sand with plenty of good topsoil then firm and prepare as normal.  I've seen jolly good lawns come from being laid on quite sandy soil - as long as it's more soil than sand.  Just make sure you remove any rubble and other builder's debris that often finds its way into the foundations of a patio.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 28,233

    It's what I've done here Matthew. Dove's advice is the same as mine. Mix well and break up the surface below the sand with a fork as well. Make sure the ground is firmed and levelled and leave it for a couple of weeks to settle before you lay your turf too. I added compost and extra grit as well ( heavy rainfall area) and sowed seed last summer. Grass is doing well. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Matthew is it sand or a mix of sand and cement? If it's sand and cement ( it'll be a greyish colour mix) you'll need to remove the lot. Not fun but cement contains lime and that's not good for grass.

  • Thanks for the replies. From what i can tell so far it is just builders' sand - here's hoping! Is it worth getting a soil testing kit to check it after mixing the topsoil in? I'm actually thinking of making it a flowering lawn / meadow now, if that makes any difference.

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    It may be worth it. It'll give you a good indication if cement is there. Cement is very alkaline.

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