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What Is The Best Top Dressing For Lawns

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What Is Lawn Top Dressing And Why Should I Do It

Top Dressing and Top Soiling your Lawn

Top dressing is the process of spreading additional soil over the surface of your lawn. This would normally be a loam or a loam and sand mix, depending on the condition of your current soil.

Understand that the material you add to the surface of the lawn will eventually become part of the root zone. As such, its important to choose a top dressing mix that will blend in with your soil over time .

Top Dressing Lawn Using A Drop Spreader

This technique of top dressing lawn uses a traditional drop-style lawn spreader with a big hopper. It works best with compost that is dry and finely screened. Wet or clumpy compost will clog the spreader holes.

Drop spreaders have adjustable holes in the bottom and a mechanism on the handle that lets you set the size of the openings. Set the spreader on the setting with the largest openings and close the lever that shuts the hopper holes. Fill the hopper with compost from a nearby wheelbarrow or truck, go to the edge of your lawn, and open up the drop holes as you walk up and down your lawn in a row pattern. Make sure you cover all of the lawn, refilling the hopper as needed. Lawn drop spreaders with a bigger hopper mean you dont have to refill as often, but theyre also heavier to push.

It also may be possible to use a broadcast spreader to top dress your lawn. They have a spinning wheel beneath a single hole where the compost drops out. The wheel spins and tosses the compost out onto the lawn, rather than dropping it directly beneath the spreader. However, in my experience, unless the compost is very finely screened and super dry, broadcast spreaders clog more easily than drop spreaders. Still, if you already have one in the garage, feel free to give it a whirl. You might have a very different experience.

Spread The Piles Of Topsoil Out With The Back Of A Rake

Now youve got little piles of soil everywhere, take your landscaping rake and turn it over so youre using the back of it instead of the tines.

Move the soil around and work it into the lawn. You need to make sure that at least 75% of the grass leaf is poking through the soil.

Spread the soil out as evenly as you can. Your lawn will be pretty black at this point.

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How To Topdress The Lawn

Sand should ONLY be used to topdress lawns when the native soil is sandy. If the native soil is NOT sandy, use topsoil as the topdressing material instead. True topsoil has organic matter. Topdressing applications of topsoil should closely mirror the content of the native soil. Compost materials, rich in organic matter, may be used to topdress all soil types.

If working with bare soil, evenly distribute the topdressing material, surface till, and smooth to level the grade. If working with established turfgrass, lightly and evenly rake the topdressing material to allow the material to sift down between the leaf blades. Precaution should be taken to prevent damage to existing healthy turfgrass.

Topdressing applications should be light with no more than ½- inch of material applied at a time. A thicker application can cause problems by stunting the turfgrasss growth or providing excessive shade to the turfgrass.

Topdressing is often paired with lawn aeration. Lawn aeration involves using equipment to pull small cores or plugs of soil out of the ground to relieve compaction. See HGIC 1200, Aerating Lawns for additional information on aeration.

As a word of caution, topsoil and river bottom sand may contain weed seeds that can introduce a new weed problem into the lawn.

If this document didnt answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

What Type Of Sand Do You Need For Your Lawns


When your lawn has a bumpy surface, or you need to feel some holes, sand will be the best top dressing material.

To be honest, this practice was inspired by the maintenance of golf courses! And homeowners adopted this technique to keep their house look picture-perfect!

So now the question is, what type of sand is used for top dressing? Lets discuss that part in the following section!

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Rolling Peat Moss Spreader

A peat moss spreader like is an easy way to get the compost around your lawn and to make sure it is spread evenly and lightly.

This type of spreader has a barrel-like structure that rotates with metal mesh openings.

This is a tool thats not necessary to top dress lawn areas, but if you can afford it and plan to top-dress regularly its a good investment that will save your back.

To use a peat moss spreader for top dressing, fill the rolling parcel with compost or your preferred material. Then push the barrel while walking up and down your lawn. The compost will drop out of the mesh openings evenly onto your lawn.

This tool is best suited for dry and screened compost.

What Tools Can You Use For Top Dressing A Lawn

There are a few tools you will need to top dress your lawn.

You want to make the process as quick and effective as possible, so you must have everything you need.

To top dress your lawn youll need:

Lets take a closer look at these and Ill share my specific recommendations and what I like to use for each type of tool.

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Quantity Of Top Dressing Soil

If this is being done purely to smooth the lawn then you can apply at 3 to 4 kilos per square metre which will give about ¼ or just over half a centimetre in depth. Obviously the dips will get more but you must not smother the grass. The rule is 75% of the leaf must be exposed. At this rate you may be able to top dress twice in spring and once in autumn if need be.

For ornamental lawns where this is being done regularly as part of a lawn care program then I wouldnt apply at more than 1 to 2 kilos per square metre with one kilo being preferable. Applying at half to one kilo means you can repeat this as often as you like throughout the growing season. This trickle dressing works in better, improves thatch decomposition and is less noticeable on fine lawns.

The Best Top Dressing Serviceswhat Is It

How To Top Dress A Lawn

Top dressing, or sometimes known as organic lawn dressing, is the practice of spreading a combination of sand, soil and compost over the surface of your lawn to add back the organic material lost over time, or perhaps removed during construction.

Most yards, especially in newer areas, have very little living soil. Living soil has millions and even billions of living microorganisms that enrich the soil by converting plant material and debris into the rich nutrients required for plants like your grass to grow and flourish.

Top dressing is an easy way to add back that organic material missing from your lawn and provide a foundation for rich healthy growth. Some of the benefits of organic lawn dressing are:

  • Organic material is added to the lawn
  • Builds up soil flora
  • Reduces the need for fertilizers
  • Reduces thatch

Sutter Lawns provides the best top dressing/organic lawn dressing service in the greater Des Moines area. There are a number of steps we take to ensure the maximum amount of benefit for your lawn and our process can be easily tailored for your budget.

The steps of the process are important as well as the order in which they are performed. Our top dressing program includes the following steps:

  • Aerate the lawn
  • Mow the lawn as low as possible
  • Remove grass clippings and thatch debris
  • Spread top dressing to ¼ to ½ inch depth
  • rush grass with backside of a rake to smooth if needed
  • Overseed if desired and keep moist by watering
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    Top Dressing Your Lawn

    The Sunday Mail

    In the last several years, top dressing lawns has become a popular practice to improve lawn condition.

    What is top dressing and how is it beneficial to your lawn? What are some best practices for top dressing lawns?

    What products can make doing so easier and result in a more beautiful lawn? Lets find out.

    What does top dressing a lawn do?

    Top dressing a lawn involves applying natural, organic mulch to a lawn to help it produce healthier, greener grass. The mulch controls thatch, prevents weed growth, adds nutrients to the soil in a natural, time-released way and levels the surface. This reduces the need for lawn fertilisers and herbicides, though when these are applied, the effects are optimised, producing a more lush, beautiful lawn.

    When should I top dress my lawn?

    The best time to top dress your lawn depends on the type of grass you have. Warm-season grasses should be top dressed in the spring while cool-season grasses should be done in the fall.

    Examples of warm-season grasses include:


    Examples of cool-season grasses include:


    Fescue grass

    Steps to top dressing your lawn

    Top dressing a lawn is a natural way to ensure the best grass growth. And while it doesnt have to be complicated, top dressing is still a time-consuming process. This is the reason many landscapers do not promote this service the time-to-cost trade-off makes profits thin.

    Step 1: Assess your soil

    There are two factors in assessing your soil: type and pH.

    The Process Of Top Dressing

    When top dressing your lawn, begin by making a mixture of sand, loam and peat. Depending on your soil type, the proportions of these 3 ingredients will vary. For a loamy soil type, mix 3 parts loam to 3 parts sand to 1 part peat. Ensure these ingredients are dry before you begin mixing them so that they will mix easily.

    Always use a good quality peat rather than garden compost. Garden compost can often contain weed seeds which can germinate in the lawn and cause problems later. You should also ensure that the sand is lime free, therefore sea sand is not recommended. If you have a heavy clay soil, increase the amount of sand while reducing the amount of loam in the top dressing mix. Adversely, for sandy soils, reduce the amount of sand in your mix.

    The texture of the top dressing mixture should be very fine. This allows the top dressing to easily penetrate the surface of the grass reaching the existing soil. Running the mixture through a soil sieve before applying will help to achieve a fine mix.

    It is often recommended to aerate your lawn a few days prior to applying a top dressing. Use a spade to apply a thin, even layer of the top dressing over your lawn. You can use the back side of a rake to evenly spread the top dressing. The layer should be no more than 1/2 deep. Work the mixture into the grass until the grass peeks through and the depth is relatively even.

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    What Does Top Dressing A Lawn Mean

    When it comes to lawns, keeping them lush and plush usually means applying a heap of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. While this is an accepted practice, you can achieve just as great results by regularly top dressing and using a few core natural products to help improve the health of your soil.

    The more natural way to ensure your lawns maximum growth is done by spreading a light layer of composted organic matter or sand on your turf. This process is called top dressing, and many homeowners use this method as a sustainable way to keep their lawns healthy and thriving.

    As sand doesnt offer many nutrients for soil improvement, adding a few key natural products to help feed the beneficial soil microbes and improve the soil will provide a great benefit. Plant Doctors Quantum H premium Humic Acid liquid or granular AgriPlus are options to help with this.

    Your Own Top Dressing Mix

    Top Dressing Lawn: How to Have Thicker, Healthier Grass in ...

    Customising your own lawn top dressing soil is another option. One reason why lawn owners create their own mix is because it is more economical. Combining different materials also ensures that your top dressing mix is well-balanced.

    The most popular combination has compost as the base, which is then blended well with either sand or topsoil. A combination of sand and soil for top dressing is effective in preventing puddling on your lawn, which can lead to grass decay.

    How to make your own lawn top dressing mix

    If youd rather not go with store-bought, you certainly can make your own lawn top dressing mix. Simply add 3 parts soil, 6 parts sand, and 1 part compost. Mix evenly and you have your own homemade top dressing material, ready for use. Consider adding Humic acid or AgriPlus granules to the mix for improved results.

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    Family Or Utility Lawns

    For a normal family or utility lawn, you want to try and keep it to around 5mm deep. Any low spots will naturally get more but its really important that you dont smother the grass.

    A good rule of thumb is to keep at least 75% of the grass leaf exposed, otherwise, you risk killing it.

    If your lawn is full of peaks and troughs you might find that this doesnt level it completely the first time around. In this case, youll need to top dress more than once over the course of a few seasons.

    If you only add 5mm of topsoil at a time you should be able to top dress twice in the spring and once in the autumn. At this point, your lawn should be much more level and full of nutrients.

    5mm in topsoil equates to 4-5kg per square meter of lawn. To work out how much topsoil you need, simply multiply your lawns square meterage by the weight in soil per square meter.

    So lets say your lawn is 50 square meters.

    50 x 5 = 250kg.

    Topdressing That Is Motorized

    Its pretty much mandatory for larger gardens to have motorized devices. The golf course care of tractors and modified trucks have been designed. You can see smaller variations of self-propelled dispensers.

    Attaching your regular tractor lawnmower to atow-type dispensers will make it easier. If you check with your tractor brand, you can see what accessories are appropriate for topdressing.

    Topdressing dispensers and seed and fertilizer dispensers are the same things.

    After spreading the mix, wide brush accessories should be used for raking. The Fertiliser should be applied as a starter.

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    When To Top Dress Lawn With Compost

    Top dressing can be performed in the spring, just before the lawn greens up, or in the mid to late fall, just before the leaves drop from the trees. Some homeowners opt to top dress their lawns twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall, with a quarter inch of compost each time. Others opt for just once a year. What matters most is that you spread the compost during a time of year when theres an increased chance of regular rainfall to help move the compost down toward the roots of your turf grass.

    Top Dress To Add Nutrients

    How to top dress your lawn

    This method of top dressing lawns involves putting down a very thin layer of highly organic soil mixture. This process is used to add natural organic nutrients and minerals to the lawn and is highly recommended for all lawn owners to undertake every so often.

    The top dressing mixture is sold in bags at lawn care and garden nurseries. The mixture is applied to the Buffalo lawn at the manufacturers recommendations, and when completed the lawn should look as though it has been dusted with most of the organic material sinking directly into the thatch layer.

    The top dressing mixture is then watered into the lawn, and due to its very thin application, it should almost disappear into the lawn after watering.

    Do not use this organic top dressing mixture to level uneven lawns.

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    Types Of Top Dressing To Use After Lawn Aeration

    Our Florida Panhandle landscaping clients want their residential and commercial lawns to look their best, as in green, lush and with a consistent look. As summer gets into full swing, some of our clients are asking us whether they should aerate their lawns and add top dressing.

    Before we answer that question, we thought it would be helpful to explain a bit more about how top dressing works and when aeration is helpful.

    Incorporating In A Clay Soil In Order To Improve Soil Drainage

    Adding additional high quality topsoil/compost to your lawn will improve soil quality as top dressing contributes nutrients, helps to retain moisture, and promotes root nutrition. For even better lawn care results, considered installing a lawn irrigation system from Nutri-Lawn. Nutri-Lawn uses only the best irrigation products, providing customers with effective, affordable professional care.

    How do I Prepare an Area and Apply Top Dressing?

    The best way to prepare a piece of land for top dressing is to aerate or dethatch the area in order to remove debris, thatch, and garbage. This thick layer of “stuff” can block the absorption of water and fertilizers, preventing nutrients from fully penetrating to the roots of your turf.

    In order to prevent the thatch from combining with your top dressing, aerate the lawn before you add any topsoil. Remember, in addition to providing lawn irrigation in Ottawa, Nutri-Lawn offers both aerating and top dressing options.

    Spread the topsoil ½ inch to ¾ inch evenly on your lawn. When applying top dressing, spread a thin layer – not covering the grass – equally over the area and make sure that the top dressing is penetrating into the soil, not sitting on top. In addition to aerating and dethatching, proper lawn irrigation services will provide your turf with a steady supply of moisture, a necessary step in nutrient retention.

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