Why Compost Is The Best Top Dressing For A Lawn
Compost is the perfect tool for the job because:
Limitations And Information About The Compost Service
- Watering is strongly recommended to start working the compost into the soil and reduce the chance of any drought stress caused by having the new compost on top of the lawn.
- The special compost spreader will only fit into gates that are 36 or larger. If you have a gate that smaller than this, we will not be able to apply the compost to the area inside the fenced area.
- The compost spreader spreads at a 6-ft wide path. If there is a stretch of lawn that is narrower than 6 feet wide, we will not be able to spread compost on that area.
- The compost spreader will tip over on steep hills so we will not be able to spread compost on steep hills .
- The compost spreader cannot go up or down steps or stairs. If the only access to part of your yard is down steps or stairs, we will not be able to do those areas.
What Can I Compost
Composting may seem like a mindless task of tossing scraps on the heap and stirring, but you must remember what you can and cannot throw on that compost pile. Sure, any organic material will compost, but only certain organic items help your cause.
Some of the obvious compost-friendly organics include: fruits, veggies, nutshells, eggshells, grass trimmings, houseplants, tree trimmings, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags.
Some of the lesser-known compost-friendly items that may otherwise find their way to the landfill include shredded newspaper, cardboard, paper, cotton and wool rags, dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, hair and fur, and fireplace ashes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
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How Much Should I Charge For Compost Top Dressing
Price the service according to how many yards or cubic meters of compost or compost blend you will need to top dress the lawn.
Follow our easy recommendations above to determine the necessary cubic yards or meters based on the lawns surface area.
Example: a 10,000 sq. ft. lawn will need 5 cu. yrds to topdress that size lawn. To renovate that same area will require twice the material.
Next, multiply the cost of the compost or compost blend by 4 or by 5, depending on the total square footage of the area to determine the final price:
- For areas over 10,000 sq. ft. or 930 sq. meters, cost x 4
- For areas less than 10,000 sq. ft. or 930 sq. meters, cost x 5
Exercise common sense in order to determine what your market can bear.
Acts As A Natural Organic Fertilizer
If you dont have enough money to buy fertilizer, compost is a good alternative. Compost acts as an organic fertilizer to help improve soil aeration and retain nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. Instead of throwing organic waste like food scraps in the trash bin, I usually save them in my compost bin and use them to make compost for my lawn.
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Note: Timing Compost Applications
Compost is spread in spring or fall, but there are important nuances. In cool-season areas, the spring application is typically lighter and the fall application heavier. In the south, topdress warm-season grasses in early spring. Consult with the local extension service or your soil test provider for recommended depth and dates.
Keep in mind, too, that compost has some fertilizer value and may partially offset fertilizer application rates.
Topdressing With Small Equipment
It will help to have specific equipment for lawns that are between 50 and 500 square yards. Lets check out the possible options.
There is a hamper for small hand-powered push topdressingers. The topdressing mix should be placed in the soil and criss-cross across the lawn. Its the same tool that is used to spread seeds. The mix is spread evenly by the spinning Gravity and spinners.
The topdressing dispensers have blades that project the mix around. Its very simple to get the hang of it. Its very even to spread the topdressing.
There are rollers made from medium-mesh wire, which you fill up and push along the grass, drilled barrels, or other objects.
This equipment is usually used to break up clumps. To use the device, you need a single pass. If a manual pass is done, the grass blades will be pulled up.
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How Does Composting Happen
Microbes work in three stages to create compost in the presence of oxygen and water. The length of the process depends on how involved you are, the size of your pile, and what you put into it.
The right balance of ingredients allows the growth of plants to break down carbon and nitrogen so they can release oxygen into the atmosphere. The more water you have in your soil, the more greenery will grow.
The process of composting takes anywhere from a few months to three years, according to Daily Gardener experts. If you want to get your lawn and garden in shape quicker, there are many steps you can take.
Composting is an important part of living a sustainable lifestyle and can help your garden. Heres how to do it.
How Often Should I Use Compost On My Lawn
Personally I topdress my lawn with compost as part of my lawn maintenance routine every 2-3 years and it definitely improves the health of my lawn every time.
If you have never used compost to topdress your lawn I would definitely recommend you start doing it.
Once you see the benefit of adding compost to your lawn you will realize just how good it is for the health of your lawn and if you are like me and are seeking lawn perfection it will become a vital part of your routine.
As long as you only add a thin layer of good quality and balanced compost it can really do no harm to your lawn so you may even decide to do it more often than me, which could be every year and you will only see benefits from the process.
Which Topdressing Is Best
For most purposes, mature compost is the best topdressing.
Other possibilities include:
Sand this is almost exclusively used as a lawn topdress, and then again mostly on golf turf. You may include it in your topdressing mix if you need to increase drainage, but dont repeat it too often. Prefer coarse sand to fine sand. Never use sea sand which is salty. Only use river sand or quarry sand.
Manure manure provides very rich nutrients. Depending on what the animals ate, though, you might notice weeds growing out of it .
What Is Top Dressing A Lawn
Top dressing is the act of spreading a thin layer over the surface of something. In this case, were spreading a thin layer of compost over the surface of the lawn, and it doesnt take much to do the job. You want to add enough compost to introduce a good balance of nutrients and plenty of beneficial microbes, but not so much that you risk smothering your lawn. When top dressing lawn, you only need to spread ¼ to ½ of an inch of compost over the grass. Rain, wind, soil organisms, and human actions quickly move the compost down through the grass and into the soil where it can work its magic.
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The Best Reason To Top Dress Lawn With Compost
Managing a lawn is one of the most resource-intensive practices homeowners participate in. Hard to believe, but pound for pound, here in North America we use more pesticides and herbicides per acre on our lawns than big agriculture does on food crops. Instead of turning to synthetic fertilizers that cause water-polluting nutrient runoff, harm beneficial soil life, and introduce unnecessary chemicals into your yards ecosystem, turn to compost instead. As you now know, the benefits are many and you can feel great about letting your kids and pets roll around in the lawn without worry.
For more about compost and soil care, check out the following articles:
Pros And Cons To Compost Alternatives
Topsoil that mimics the existing soil structure smooths out the ground and is good to use, as well.
However, it does not contain a lot of organic material, and many topsoils or farm field loams you buy in bulk will contain weed seeds.
Sand is used mostly on golf courses and particularly on man-made grass and artificial turf. When its combined with dense clay soils, it facilitates drainage.
I dont recommend that you use fine sand over coarse-textured soil unless youre trying to do some light leveling in your yard.
Homeowners often use a mix of the materials discussed above to create a cost-effective blend similar to existing soil. And you dont have to use the same material every time you top dress your yard.
Most times, a mixture of topsoil, sand, and compost works well.
You can purchase materials from your local garden centers, nurseries, and landscape companies if you need topsoil or sand delivered in bulk.
Arrange delivery of these products onto your driveway so that your lawn grass isnt smothered and tire tracks arent left in your yard.
I typically lay out a tarp on my driveway for the bulk materials to be dumped, which makes clean-up a snap.
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Improves The Quality Of Soil
Top dressing is a great way to add organic matter and nutrients to the topsoil. I prefer it to using bags of lawn fertilizer even organic lawn fertilizer.
A high quality screened compost helps to boost poor soil through the improvement of its productive properties.
It also improves the structure of the soil by improving its cation exchange capacity , or the soils ability to hold nutrients and water.
Applying top dressing to your lawn builds up beneficial soil microbes that are essential for your turf to flourish.
What Topdressing Material To Use
One of the first and most important steps is deciding what type of topdressing material you should use. To be effective and advantageous, it needs to be similar in texture to the underlying soil. Choosing the wrong material can create serious problems.
According to the late James Beard, a leading authority on turfgrass:
ne of the most important considerations in topdressing is the use of a soil mixture of comparable texture and composition to the underlying soil The use of topdressing mixes containing textures drastically different from the underlying soil results in the development of a distinct layer that impairs air and water movement considerably and results in an overall reduction of turfgrass quality.
The most common options are sand, topsoil similar to your existing soil, high-quality compost, or a custom-blended mix of the materials.
- Sand is used extensively on golf courses, primarily on man-made greens. It can also be used with heavy clay soils to improve drainage. Avoid using fine sand over coarse-textured soil.
- Topsoil similar to the existing soil structure is acceptable and will help smooth out the ground but doesnt contain much organic material.
- Compost is the most recommended material to use, as long as it is finished and has few fillers.
- It is common for homeowners to use a mix of the above materials to create a cost-effective blend that is comparable to their existing soil. Most often, a blend ofcompost and either topsoil/sand is recommended.
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When Is Compost Finished
The compost stops producing heat when it passes through all the phases. The smell should be more earthly than the original organic materials. The compost should not look the same as the original organic materials. If you see large pieces of organic matter that have not been broken down, its likely not ready. There are bigger items that take longer to break down, such as wood chips.
An infrared thermometer is the best way to know if your pile is finished. The temperature will climb from roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the centre. When this occurs, the pile is regarded ready to be used. Then you can add extra material to speed up the decomposition process.
Icular Top Dressings And When To Use Them
You can also use particular composts and other top dressings to change the acidity or drainage of the soil.
For example, it is common practice to add a top dressing of sharp sand to improve drainage, especially after spiking the lawn in autumn, or if your lawn suffers from waterlogging in winter.
And adding a peat-based compost, which you can buy from compost suppliers, can acidify the soil and discourage worms. So if your lawn seems to have excessive quantities of worm casts, top dress with peat.
A word of warning
It takes a while for any top dressing to settle into the lawn. Try to avoid walking on it immediately afterwards, and prevent children and pets from playing on it for at least a few days, and preferably longer, until the top dressing is no longer obvious. This is not to save your lawn, which will not be affected by the use, but to avoid the risk of carrying compost into the house and dirtying floors! Peat-based composts, in particular, are very dark in colour, and can mark carpets and floors.
If you thick you lawn is beyond repair or you require some turf to patch it, visit our specialist Turf Growers website.
We have been producing and supplying quality compost and topsoil products since 2007.
Our screening and blending plant is an indoor opperation, ensuring your topsoil and compost is low in moisture all year round, this means your not paying for water, just quality compost and topsoil.
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Top Dressing Lawn With Sand
You may also like to introduce sand to your topsoil as a part of your lawn care routine. This can either be done as a standalone application, or mixed with compost and/or loam.
Sand is used to help improve drainage, especially on lawns that commonly become waterlogged. It can also be mixed in with compost, in case you dont have enough to cover your entire lawn . Also, sand can help to clear thatch when used in the right quantity.
However, there are risks associated with top dressing your lawn with sand.
- If you introduce sand to clay soils to address a drainage problem, it can actually make the issue worse. The sand will sit on the top of the clay, rather than being mixed into the clay layer. This can weigh down the clay soil, further preventing water from draining.
- Sand does not contain nutrients. If applied on its own, sand can reduce lawn fertility.
- If too much sand is applied, this can choke your grass, no matter what type of soil structure you have. This occurs because sand often forms
- clumps on the top of your soil that block sunlight and moisture.
Sand is often used as a top dressing on golf courses, mostly because it makes for a more even putting surface on the green. Its also a cheap way to manage thatch growth, when compared to raking or scarifying an entire golf course.
Suburban Soil Is Generally Poor
A frequent practice during the construction of a new home is to strip the topsoil. Any layers of organic matter is often removed, leaving poor soil. I see this happening all the time when new subdivisions are constructed.
Turf-grass itself is also not good for soil health. The deep fibrous roots of Americas prairies are replaced by the 2-3 roots of turf grass. So, any organic matter that is deeper than 3 will be consumed, and never replenished by the grass growing above it.
But, research has shown that compost could be one of the best ways to rejuvenate soil. In addition to all the direct benefits that have been mentioned, the added infiltration of water could reduce runoff. This could help reduce effects of flash flooding, as well as reduce any potential fertilizer or herbicide runoff.
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It Makes Grass Grow Denser And Rich In Color
The combination of composting benefits makes grass turfs healthier. A turf with compost top-dressing establishes faster and fills in quicker.
Compost also avails the necessary nutrients that help grass to grow thicker and fuller, and also richer in color. Denser turfs are considered more desirable and crowd out weeds while a lush green shade is visually attractive.
Deciding How Much Dressing To Get
You want to spread about 1cm of top dressing across your entire lawn. Any more and your grass blades may struggle for sunlight, which can cause them to wither. Your lawn should still look mostly green, rather than brown.
This does mean that top dressing has a limited impact on making your lawn more level. Adding a centimetre of top dressing will fill only the smallest of holes.
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