Topdressing A Home Lawn
Factsheet | HGIC 1227 | Sep 30, 2020 |
With the expansion of residential landscapes in the US, the number of homeowners interested in learning how to start and maintain a healthy lawn has increased. Bare soil is usually easier to work with when improving the soil for lawn preparation. Improving the soil in an established lawn can be a little more difficult, but it is possible.
South Carolina soils range from heavy clays in the Upstate to sandy soils from the Midlands to the Lowcountry. Additionally, many South Carolina soils have been poorly managed and damaged through construction activities or agricultural overuse. Regardless of the soil type, most of the soils in SC are highly weathered, eroded, and contain little organic matter. Common soil quality issues include:
- Very low soil pH, except along the coast
- Soil compaction and thus poor soil aeration
- Poor soil structure
- Reduced water holding capacity in sandy soils
- Excessive water saturation in clay soils
- Low organic matter content
- Low cation exchange capacity or ability to hold onto nutrients
- Low nutrient availability
Topdressing materials may include topsoil, composted organic matter, or sand, depending on why the topdressing is needed. Historically, sports turf managers have used topdressing to level and smooth playing surfaces. However, landscapers and homeowners now employ topdressing as a management tool to promote healthy turfgrass.
Is Aerating Your Lawn Worth It
No, it’s not necessary to aerate your lawn every year, especially if your grass is healthy and thriving. Aeration is good if you’ve got compacted, poor or clay-heavy soil that’s been impacted by heavy equipment or lots of foot traffic. … Improves water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil. Improves rooting.
What Is The Best Material To Use When Top Dressing
Top dressing doesnt have to be a pain in the grass! To top dress your lawn successfully, use a lawn top dressing material thats similar to the consistency of your planting soil. Depending on your turfgrass and the soil composition of your lawn, you can use sand, finely screened compost, topsoil, or a combination of these options.
Recommended Reading: Plantain Weeds In Lawns
Tips For Topdressing Your Lawn
Topdressing your lawn can be a DIY project, but truthfully it is a very labor intensive endeavor. Some home improvement centers have motorized spreader machines available for rent which will reduce the labor but increase the cost.
- Routine topdressing improves thatch breakdown and improves the soil. However, it does raise the grade of your yard. To ensure you dont raise it too much its best to not topdress your entire lawn routinely. Treat bare spots as needed and the entire lawn every few years.
- A very light topdressing application can be completed more often if the amount added is shallow enough to be brushed into aeration holes.
- Time according to your grass type. Topdress in lawns in the spring for warm season grasses and the fall for cool season grasses. This allows three or four mows before severe heat or cold sets in.
- Combine with other cultural practices like overseeding to grow new grass.
If topdressing your lawn yourself sounds like too big of a project to tackle yourself, some lawn care companies offer top dressing service to clients. Its becoming a more popular service available because of demand but still not widely available it requires a lot of work with a small profit margin for companies.
Let Greenearth Help With Lawn Aeration And Top Dressing
At GreenEarth, we can evaluate your lawn and let you know if it would benefit from aeration and top dressing. If it will, we can do the hard work for you.
If youd like a consultation on the health of your lawn and what can be done to improve it, give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at 267-0010 to set up an appointment.
You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation or download our FREE Landscape Planning Guide below and start turning lush landscape dreams into reality.
You May Like: Best Herbicide For Wild Violets
How To Top Dress A Lawn And Benefits Of Top Dressing
Topdressing is a process of applying fertilizer or other organic material directly onto the surface of the ground. It can be done by hand with shovels or spreaders, but its most commonly accomplished using an aerator-type machine that spreads the product evenly over the turf. The goal of topdressing is to provide nutrients for healthy growth while also improving water retention and drainage.
Adding material to the grass is called top dressing. In a throwing action, 1/3 to 1/2 inch of compost is spread across the lawn using shovels. It is possible to work the material down into the thatch layer by raking, washing it in with rain or sprinklers, and then allowing it to settle on its own. It is a labor-intensive activity, and this may be the reason for its lack of popularity. For a device that is rarely used, motorized top-dressers and compost spreaders are the most expensive machines.
It is sometimes reluctantly offered by lawn care companies since they dont have a large profit margin, and it is seen as a labor-intensive annoyance. Consumers are starting to learn the advantages of topdressing and asking for the service from lawn care pros as they become more sensitive to issues surrounding chemical lawn care. People are learning how to do it their own way.
It doesnt make sense to spread compost or sand over your grass. The grass is supposed to hold dirt. Its a great thing to do on a regular basis, and this is what topdressing is.
Smart Tip About Lawn Topdress
Dont splurge to buy equipment right immediately. Practice by hand on a small area first to get a feel of how it should go.
Then, ask around your neighborhood, someone almost certainly has the equipment for rent or for borrowing. Since its only needed every three years or so, it often isnt worth purchasing at all.
Recommended Reading: Grass Aerator Lowes
Beware Top Dressing Incorrectly Can Kill Your Lawn
Top dressing has benefits such as helping nutrient retention, helping level uneven lawns, and helping with drainage and decreasing thatch build up.
We are often advised here at Cobbitty Lawn Turf, that our customers have been told You have to top dress your lawn!
This isnt always the case.
If your lawn had all its preparation completed correctly, with adequate and level soil underneath and you have fertilised well then you wont need to top dress.
Though, keep in mind that top dressing does have benefits such as helping nutrient retention and helping to level uneven lawns, while also helping with drainage and decreasing thatch build up.
Should I Aerate Before Leveling
Re: Mechanically Aerate BEFORE Level? Yes but if you leave them, they’ll break down and eventually your soil will be exactly the same as it was before aeration. Removing and filling will sand will allow the aeration to be a more permanent solution for water and nutrient infiltration deeper into the root zone.
Don’t Miss: What Month To Start Watering Lawn In Colorado
Lawn Top Dressing: What Why When And How To Top Dress Your Lawn
Top dressing is one of those lawn treatments normally undertaken by more serious lawnsmiths. The ones who wont accept anything less than perfection.
Its also carried out by greenkeepers who look after bowling greens and golf courses.
If youre not particularly green-fingered and you wouldnt consider your lawn to be your pride and joy, then top dressing probably isnt for you . Its hard work and can be expensive.
However, if you love your lawn and youre in the pursuit of perfection, read on.
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.
Recommended Reading: Price Of Trugreen Lawn Care
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.
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.
You May Like: Rent Chipper Shredder Lowes
Determine The Best Top Dressing Materials For Your Grass
Choosing the right top dressing material is key to a healthy lawn. Choose a type that matches the topsoil already present. If the soil is already quite sandy, use a compost that contains more sand. If the dressing material does not match what is present, use a compost mixer to evenly blend the materials.
If the soil is mostly clay, then it will be important to break up the clay and add a well-blended top soil that matches the rest of the yard. To create an even surface, you may need to dig out the clay and replace it with the soil blend.
Top Dressing A Lawn: How When And Why
If youre not yet top dressing your lawn, youre missing out on a lot. Homes all over Australia are going green over eco-friendly lawn care, and you should, too.
Before rushing to your nearest lawn supply store, there are a few things you need to know so you can top dress your lawn the right way .
Take your lawn from bare and brown to thick and thriving with the best top dressing tips, straight from the lawn experts.
Don’t Miss: Average Cost To Aerate Lawn
Topdressing Dos And Donts
DO choose your topdressing material carefully. Using the wrong type of material could do more harm than good.
DONT Apply topdressing between October and March in the UK it,s important that the grass is actively growing when you do this job.
DO scarify before applying topdressing, and hollow tine aerate too if you are addressing drainage issues
DONT use topdressing as a substitute for scarification. Yes, it can help control thatch but it cannot clear a deep layer of debris.
DO be careful not to apply too much you need to be able to see the sward once youve finished work.
DONT mow your lawn too soon after applying topdressing the grass will need time to recover. Let it grow to
DO water your lawn after topdressing. It helps the material settle and it helps the grass to recover from your intervention.
Top Dressing A Lawn: The Benefits And How To Do It
Upon first thought, it seems somewhat absurd to spread a layer of compost or sand over your grass. After all, dirt is supposed to be under the grass. This is what topdressing is, though, and its a great thing to periodically do for your lawn.
Topdressing a lawn is accomplished by spreading a thin layer of material such as compost or sand over the grass. This practice has been observed since golf was first invented in Scotland and is gaining popularity with homeowners looking for organic lawn care strategies.
Read Also: Aaron’s Zero Turn Mower
Should I Seed Before Top Dressing
Planning & Preparation for Top Dressing You should add the new grass seed after renovation and either before or after top dressing. … On the other hand, if you are only top dressing lightly you could add the lawn seed first so that the dressing goes on top thereby insulating the seed somewhat from birds and rain.
Quantity Of Topdressing And Proper Lawn Topdress Amount
There are two different cases that can help determine the amount of topdressing you need to spread. How often a lawn needs topdressing depends on the situation.
- Regular maintenance of an already healthy lawn every 3 years Use 1 to 2 pounds per square yard . The lower amount guarantees that the lawn will remain beautiful since the layer is almost invisible. It can be repeated up to 6 times within the year. The higher amount makes the lawn look slightly darker or dirtier for around a week. Thicker topdressing should only be applied 3 times that year.
- Regenerative work to heal a lawn thats in a pitiful state yearly topdressing until solved, then every 2 or 3 years Use 6 to 8 pounds per square meter in lumpy areas and wherever there are holes and bare patches. Use less on hills and more in holes. Apply 2 or 3 times within the year at most.
Recommended Reading: Rabbit Repellent For Grass
Top Dressing To Fix Holes Or Uneven Lawn
If your new lawn is a little uneven or has a few gaps, just leave it a couple of months and then if it doesnt fix itself you will need to just lightly fill in those gaps.
Once again, mow your lawn the day prior to applying the top dressing. The longer the grass, the more sand required to cover the area, and as mentioned a deeper layer of soil will make it harder for the grass to grow through it.
For the repair of a hole deeper than 5cm, use a shovel to raise the grass on top of the hole, and place the top dressing underneath to elevate the level of the lawn. Then, apply the top dressing on top of the lawn as per usual to address any remaining unevenness.
TIP: Speak to your local landscape supply company for a recommendation on the amount of loam or sand required for the specific area you need to address.
What Other Materials Can You Use To Top Dress Your Lawn
When top dressing, the first and most crucial step is choosing what type of material you should use.
For the top dressing to be advantageous, you have to ensure that your choice has a similar texture to the underlying soil.
Applying varying textures can form layers in your turf that restricts water and air movement. This can reduce the quality of turfgrass overall and is the opposite of what you want to do when top dressing your yard.
The most popular options are:
- Topsoil with a similar consistency to the soil in your lawn
- High-grade screened compost
- A mix of these materials
Recommended Reading: Bring Back Dead Grass
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.
Use A Rolling Peat Moss Spreader To Spread The Compost
These cool spreaders have a rotating barrel-like structure with metal mesh openings. They are traditionally used to spread peat moss , but they also work great for distributing compost. Simply fill the rolling barrel with compost and walk up and down your lawn while pulling or pushing the barrel. The compost drops out of the mesh openings and onto your lawn. They cost a couple hundred dollars but are well worth the investment if you have a medium-size lawn. They work best with compost that is dry and screened.
Recommended Reading: How Long After Trugreen Treatment Can I Mow
Best Top Dressing For Lawns
The best top dressing for lawns is compost because it is rich in nutrients and can help improve the soil structure in your lawn. Applying compost also reduces the fertilizer and water needs of a lawn since it improves water retention and may contain both micro and macro-nutrients required by grass.
How Much Material Will I Need To Topdress A Lawn
The table below shows how much material you will need to topdress your lawn, to different depths. If you have a particularly problematic lawn, it may take several applications to introduce enough material to achieve your goal.
|Volume of Soil Needed to Topdress 1,000 Square Feet|
|Depth of topdressing|
|Source: James Beard, “Turfrass: Science and Culture”|
Don’t Miss: Getting Rid Of Foxtail Grass