Top Dressing A Lawn: How And Why
Top dressing a lawn is the process of applying additional materials to the surface of a lawn for many purposes and benefits, but most importantly to make it look its best, allowing you to enjoy those beautiful summer days in a stunning garden.
A top dressing consists of a mix of materials such as sand, soil, peat and loam, which should be made to closely match the composition of the existing soil, as all of the new materials will eventually form part of the root zone and will therefore need to blend well.
How Many Inches Of Topsoil Do I Need For Grass
Topsoil contains most of the soil action — it’s where organic matter decays and beneficial microbes dwell. This creates a healthy environment for grass roots to thrive above the less active but often mineral-rich subsoil. When starting a new lawn, you can use your existing topsoil if the top 4 to 6 inches are rich with the organic matter that supplies nutrients and drainage, or you can purchase a better quality topsoil if your garden soil is heavy clay or too sandy. Adding and preparing the topsoil properly helps establish a healthy, problem-free lawn.
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.
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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.
Materials can be purchased from local nurseries or garden centers, and perhaps landscape or construction companies if you are looking for topsoil or sand.
Plenty Of Organic Matter Means Healthier Soil And Plants
Organic matter breaks down to create plant nutrients. It also sustains millions and billions of mini beasts and microbes that work in tandem with each other to support healthy plant growth.
Earthworms are the gardeners friend. If you have worms, you have healthy soil.
Within the soil are bacteria that actually fight plant diseases, there are miniscule fungi that feed nutrients into the plants roots and there are earthworms that start the process of turning dead roots and leaves into plant food. Earthworms are also pretty good at aerating the soil so that roots can breathe and water drains away.
Without organic matter, your soil would effectively be sand. Have you ever seen a lovely lawn growing on the beach?
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Ways To Use Topsoil To Improve Your Lawn And Garden
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top 510 inches. It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earths biological soil activity occurs. Topsoil is composed of mineral particles, organic matter, water, and air. Topsoil can be used in a variety of ways to improve the quality of your garden and lawn. In this blog, we would like to give you the facts about topsoil use and how topsoil can play a role in your outdoor space.
Differences Between Lawn Dressing And Topsoil
In the gardening world, everything has been created with a purpose and everything has a place. This is especially true of the types of products you use on your grass and plants, namely lawn dressing and topsoil. Using the right product for the right application is vital, especially if you would like your garden to thrive and be as lush as possible. Many people get confused about the differences between lawn dressing and topsoil.
When you are looking at lawn dressing it is important to understand the differences between this product and topsoil. Both are important for a healthy garden, but they are used for different aspects of your lawn. A combination of both can help to improve the quality of your garden. However it is still important to understand the differences. Below we dive a little deeper into both products.
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Scotts Premium Topsoil Conditioner
This soil conditioner contains a blend of organic matter and peat moss. One of the biggest problems when it comes to lawns is an uneven lawn. Many people end up hiring professional help to do it, but this is not necessary.
You can use the best lawn soil and do the job yourself. It is possible to fill holes and uneven patches with sand or any kind of dirt, but it is more effective to do it with topsoil or soil conditioner.
That way youll be ensuring that the patch will be filled with a smooth piece of grass that will blend nicely to your existing lawn.
The Scotts soil provides good root support and helps them to grow attached to the ground. They grow grass that is up to 50% thicker than with regular soil. This is a Water Smart product which means that the components in it help with water retention.
It comes with Scotts own fertilizers and that is one of the reasons why the seeds grow so fast. Some users were not happy with the percentage of wooden chips they found in the package.
Overall the Scotts premium is a good product that promotes the growth of your lawn from the seeds. Get it if you have large patches of brown grass in between green ones, and you need to even everything out.
- It contains peat moss great for grass
- It encourages seed germination and grows thick grass
- It absorbs and saves water
Topsoil For Uneven And Patchy Lawns
After a settling period, some areas of a new lawn may need a slight correction to desired levels. Putting topsoil on top of grass if done properly, the technique of top-dressing, or adding a thin layer of soil over your lawn, can improve the soil without killing the existing turf. The grass underneath will grow through and eventually the depression will be unnoticeable. Top-dressing addresses some common lawn problems, including Low spots due to rotting tree roots, settling after the underground pipe, cable installation, or erosion. It is not uncommon to find patches of your lawn where the grass is not growing. If the area is bare simply spread topsoil across the areas so it is 1 inch deep. then evenly distribute grass seeds and till the soil. Water the area daily.
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Match Topsoil Type For Drainage
Topsoil, whether you buy it in bulk or bag form, can be clayey in physical makeup or sandy, depending on the geology of where it was mined. It is important to know the makeup of the topsoil you are applying and the physical makeup of your lawns existing soil. A simple soil test gives you the approximate makeup. Applying a layer of topsoil made up of clay to your lawn will reduce the amount of water reaching your grass because clay absorbs moisture and until it is thoroughly saturated will not allow water to seep through. Because fertilizer moves through the soil in water, clay will also prevent fertilizer from doing its job.
How To Use A Tractor Attachment Spreader For Top Dressing Lawn
If you have a lawn tractor and a large lawn, it may be worthwhile to invest in a tractor attachment to spread compost. These tow-behind units have large hoppers, adjustable hole sizes, and can attach to either a lawn tractor or an ATV. You can also use them to seed the lawn or distribute ice melter on the driveway in winter.
Another option is to invest in a tractor-mounted manure spreader. They tend to be more expensive but wont clog as readily if your compost is wet or clumpy.
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How Many Inches Of Topsoil Do I Need For A Lawn
Grass needs at least 4 6 of topsoil for roots to grow, and the deeper the roots can grow, the more resilient grass is and the less watering it needs. This includes any existing topsoil that you start out with or any compost you wish to sheet mulch on top.
Letting the grass grow long in between mowings will also encourage grass to grow more roots.
How To Top Dress Your Lawn
Making your lawn top dressing
Once the turf has been cleared and aerated the top dressing will need to be prepared. As mentioned this can consist of a mix of materials depending on the existing soil composition and health, such as sand, loam, topsoil or peat. Any sand used should not contain lime and all ingredients should be dry and sifted before use to remove any large clumps. Alternatively you can buy a ready made top dressing such as Miracle-Gro EverGreen Lawn Dressing.
Before the top dressing can be applied the grass will need to have been recently cut to allow the dressing to penetrate the existing topsoil without causing damage to the grass. After cutting, walk around the lawn raking and loosening bare patches.
Applying your lawn top dressing
When you are happy with the consistency and ratio of ingredients, you are ready to start applying top dressing to your turf. It is easiest to work a few feet at a time, making sure the mixture is spread evenly across the whole surface. The best technique to evenly distribute the mixture is to use both sides of a heavy garden rake, gently working the mix into the aeration holes with the tine side, and spreading it out with the flat side.
The top dressing should preferably be no more than a couple of centimetres in depth, allowing the tips of the blades of grass to be visibly poking through.
Steps to top dressing your lawn
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The Importance Of Soil Quality
When it comes to growing a lush lawn, many people overlook the importance of soil quality. They think that good sod or grass seed is enough to get the job done. However, this is far from the truth.
Without good soil, your lawn wonât grow well. Your lawn requires nutrients, and it gets those nutrients from the soil. A lack of nutrients means an unhealthy lawn.
You might think that fertilizer makes good soil unnecessary. However, the soil does more than just provide nutrients. It also allows your soil to drain well. Your soil needs to contain the right proportion of ingredients for it to drain well.
Another factor that matters to your lawn is breathability. If your lawn canât breathe, it wonât grow well. Instead of a lush lawn, youâll have a sparse one.
Natural Alternative Pelletized Lime
Each type of lawn needs a different pH to thrive, but it is safe to say that a soil that is too acidic will not be good to your lawn. When the pH of the soil is too far from the preferred range, the lawn will not be able to extract any nutrients from the soil, even if they are plentiful.
Adding lime to the soil is the best solution for this problem, as it brings pH back to acceptable levels and allows the roots to extort the nutrients that were previously trapped.
Another great thing about the Natural Alternative Lime is that it has added microbes that encourage the development of earthworms in the soil.
Earthworms are a great help when maintaining turf and lawn health, as they eat soil and increase air and water circulation, while also providing great organic matter from their droppings.
This pelletized lime does wonders for the roots of the grass and makes sure they grow stronger and steadier. That means healthy grass for a long time, even when the lime is long gone from the soil.
If you have a fungus problem you can also use this to try and placate it. It thatches the places where the fungus and diseases spores are growing.
- It regulates the pH of the soil, increasing the nutrient intake levels
- It encourages the development of earthworms
- It strengthens roots and helps them attach themselves to the soil
- It addresses fungus and diseases
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Should I Put More Topsoil On My Lawn Before Fertilizing
Whether you fertilize your lawn before applying a thick layer of topsoil or after, youll end up with the same result — a smothered lawn. But in some situations, topdressing small areas of your lawn can benefit it. How you apply the topsoil and fertilizer depends on the situation you want to correct. To ensure success, use topsoil that is free of weed seeds, herbicides and stones. To prevent damage to the lawn, dont rake topsoil into the existing soil.
Is Bagged Topsoil Any Good
Just like bulk topsoil can vary wildly in quality, so do bagged topsoils. Read the bag as some topsoil might be recommended for filling in holes or building up beds and not actually good for growing plants, while others will be specifically for growing plants.
If you see a ripped bag or topsoil coming out a corner, take advantage and feel the topsoil. If its dark brown, crumbly, and smells good, then its quality topsoil.
If neither of those options work, then buy one bag to test it out.
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Applying Topsoil For Nutrients
Even though lawns are hardy and tolerant of varying conditions they still need regular care and maintenance, which includes assuring that they get a constant supply of nutrients. By applying nutrient-rich topsoil to the lawn, you are introducing more nutrients that the grass needs to grow properly.
If you are applying topsoil for nutrients, it can be done any time in the year.
Topsoil Myth : Rich Soil Never Needs Fertilizer
Plants draw the nutrients they need to grow from the soil. Those nutrients usually need to be replenished every so often for the healthiest growth, no matter which type of soil you have. This is especially true for the soil where you grow annual flowers and vegetables, which suck up a lot of nutrients to fuel their rapid growth. Luckily, it’s easy and inexpensive to restore nutrition by adding high-quality compost and/or granular or liquid fertilizer products as needed. If you’re not sure if you need to add nutrients, a soil test is a quick way to check. To add nutrients and to replace organic matter as it breaks down, add 1-2 inches of compost to your garden beds in the fall. Then you’ll be all set for spring and can just add a layer of mulch after cleaning up and planting your beds for the new growing season.
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Norfolk Loam A Brilliant All Rounder
Norfolk Loam Topsoil from The Lawn Store
Regularly tested to BS3882, our Norfolk Loam Top Soil is highly versatile, being a safe, 100% natural premium quality product. Processing is kept to a minimum, with screening to 10mm to remove bigger stones and pebbles.
Norfolk Loam Top Soil is a brilliant all-rounder in all areas of your garden, from plant borders and raised beds to turf laying and landscaping.
What Is Topsoil Used For
Topsoil purchased at a garden center can be an economical way to amend your garden bed and lawn. There are different types of topsoil, so be sure you pick the one best suited for your project. Good topsoil contains the necessary nutrients for your plants to survive. It can help protect plants and seedlings, as well as correct soil issues like improper pH levels . This type of topsoil is considered a blended topsoil and tends to be more like a garden soil. The two in many ways, could be considered one-and-the-same since they perform the same function when mixed with native soil.
Certain blended topsoil, for example, can help to improve soil drainage. Using a sandy-blend topsoil with organic matter mixed into the native soil will help provide better drainage, allowing water to penetrate deeper which contributes to stronger root development.Blended topsoil, like garden soil, can be used for many in-ground applications, including:
- New builds
- Areas affected by soil erosion
- Damaged and heavily used areas of lawns
Because of these benefits, you may find yourself needing to use less water, and reduced use of pesticides giving you more time to focus on the other aspects of your garden, like planting, harvesting, seasonal swap-outs, and more.
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