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When To Top Dress Lawn

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Boosts The Soils Water

How to Top Dress and Level Your Lawn with Soil

If your lawn soil is sandy, water will drain through it too fast before the grass roots can adequately make use of it. Applying compost to the turf slows down the drainage rate of sandy lawn soil. Compost browns, particularly, are bulky and add substance to the soil.

Note: If youre applying compost to your lawn specifically to improve its water-holding capacity, ensure the ratio of browns to greens in the compost is 4:1. The more the amount of browns in the compost mix, the bulkier the soil will be.

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.

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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When Will I See The Benefits

Results from top dressing a lawn vary between grass variety, grass health and weather conditions. In ideal conditions for a fast-growing turf variety like TifTuf or Eureka Kikuyu you will notice results 2-3 weeks post application, for slower-growing varieties such as Sir Grange or Sir Walter results may take 4-6 weeks.

For more information on top dressing a lawn check out this video

For a free quote or to book in a Top Dressing Service by Turfco

If you have any further questions please contact the Turfco sales team on or

Fertilise Before Or After

To do in the spring or fall: Top

The recommendation is to fertilise the lawn a week to two before applying a top dressing regardless of whether this is for nutrients or to repair holes or an uneven lawn. This boost to the lawn plants growth will assist the turf to push through the dressing more easily and quickly. What you should do after top dressing is to water your lawn. Water just after the application and then maintain regular watering to give the lawn plants a boost after what is a stressful process for them.

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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.

Lowers Turf Maintenance Requirements

Turfgrass thats healthy due to being fed with compost generally requires lesser maintenance. Since the nutrients are released slowly, you dont have to apply fertilizer to maintain healthy grass growth regularly. If the microclimate conditions in your area are perfect, a single compost application could keep your turfgrass healthy for up to 12 months.

Note: Applying compost top-dressing on your lawn once a year should suffice, but some homeowners also do it twice a year .

Additionally, since compost facilitates deeper root growth, you no longer need to water your turf as much as you did before. The deep grass roots can reach soil water several inches below the soil surface. Turf grass roots can grow up to 2 feet deep in healthy soil.

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What Is The Best Top Dressing For Lawns

By far, the most preferred material for lawn top dressing is compost. It contains a rich supply of nutrients and improves the quality of the lawn soil. Thus, it reduces lawn fertilization needs and increases the soils water retaining capacity, creating ideal conditions for seed and grass growth.

However, there are a number of other top dressing materials as well and depending on the condition of your lawn, some might be better than the others. So, lets go ahead and discuss these materials one by one.

Benefits Of Topdressing A Lawn

How To Top Dress Your Lawn

When the soil under your grass starts to lose its oomph, or its a new lawn that isnt doing well, pulling all of the grass up to amend it isnt a feasible option. Topdressing is a simpler albeit still challenging way to see the following benefits in your lawn.

  • Adds organic matter to the topsoil, improving poor soil by enhancing its productive properties
  • Improves the soil structure, water holding capacity, and cation exchange capacity
  • Builds up beneficial soil microbes
  • Reduces thatch
  • Smooths out uneven terrain from worm castings, freeze/thaw cycle, or water runoff
  • Reduces the need for fertilizing

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Season And Time For Topdressing A Lawn

Best is to topdress just before a growth spurt. Here are the best seasons for topdressing :

  • beginning of spring
  • middle of spring
  • end of summer
  • middle of autumn

Dont topdress lawns in summer or winter. Indeed, slow growth means grass cant grow atop the new layer, resulting in patches being smothered.

Morning dew, and moisture at dusk, make it harder to topdress. Best is before and after lunch or over the afternoon.

Top Dressing A New Lawn

Most of the time a new lawn will not require top dressing, but if you feel the need you can top dress in small amounts between each new turf roll to speed up the establishment phase.

If the new lawn is not top dressed between rolls the visible lines between turf rolls will correct themselves in the coming months as the lawn matures.

If after a couple of months there are level issues/unevenness you may consider top dressing your lawn. Fertilise a few weeks prior using our Lawn Solutions Fertiliser to ensure it is growing well at the time.

Sandy soils are recommended with top dressing as bigger objects such as sticks are less prevalent. Turfco recommends using washed river sand or a top dressing mix specified by your local landscape supplier. Depending on your area Turfco will have a lawn centre near you who can provide the fertiliser and top dress soil.

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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.

How To Choose A Top Dressing Mix For Your Lawn

The Benefits of Topdressing Your Lawn

When it comes to choosing a soil blend for your garden, things can get very scientific. In other words, very, very confusing.

Golf courses spend millions of pounds every year on soil science and research. They know that soil can make the difference between a good playing surface and a sublime one.

Us, on the other hand?

We just want a nice lawn so we dont need to be quite so geeky!

The good news is that choosing a top dressing mix is very simple.

Before you go out and buy a top dressing mix, remove a few cores of turf from your lawn and inspect the soil

  • If its heavy clay Choose a sandy loam mix to help improve drainage.
  • If it sandy Use a loam mix, this will improve moisture retention.
  • If its somewhere in the middle Use a sandy loam mix and give it the best of both worlds.

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Should I Overseed Before Or After Top Dressing

There are several reasons why you need to overseed your lawn after top dressing. Most importantly, you may bury the seeds too deep if you overseed before the top dressing. Secondly, it allows the grass seeds to get into contact with moist soil.

Overseeding after topdressing is essential for achieving a new look for your lawn. However, putting down the grass seed without top dressing with compost, sand, or fertilizer can result in thinning. But should you overseed before or after top-dressing your lawn?

Top dress your lawn first, then overseed. According to Turfsystems lawn care and irrigation, topdressing your lawn before overseeding has the following benefits

  • It helps to maximize the health of the soil in your lawn. Healthy soil with enough nutrients will enhance the growth of healthy grass.
  • It adds important nutrients to the soil base to improve soil fertility.
  • Its also the best way to renovate a bumpy or distressed lawn.

The most appropriate season to overseed your lawn after topdressing is in the late summer or early fall. Many people prefer to overseed during the fall. However, overseed when the soil temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for grass to grow.

What Lawns Need Top Dressing

Top dressing is good for all lawns, but some need it more than others.

  • New neighborhoods: Builders and developers typically remove any existing native topsoil and replace it with a rock and soil blend that is good for constructing houses but terrible for grass! It helps keep foundations from cracking, but it is sterile and has zero organic matter in it. New yards and lawns struggle for years until the soil slowly improves. Adding compost speeds the process and injects life into new yards.
  • Neglected yards and landscapes: If your lawn hasnt been top dressed or fertilized in a decade, the soil will be in horrible shape. Typically, the grass gets thin, the soil becomes brick hard, and worms are nowhere to be seen. Top Dressing will help kick the natural processes back into gear and get everything growing again.
  • Stressed or damaged lawns: Improving the soil will help improve the health of the lawn overall. Its the equivalent to hot chicken soup when youre sick. If your lawn isnt in the best health, top dressing can help.

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Add A Lawn Top Dressing Mix

Not all types of grass have the same nutritional requirements, so it’s not always necessary to buy the most expensive compost or topsoil you can find. In fact, if you simply want to level your yard without blowing your budget, you can use coarse sand. Alternatively, you can mix coarse sand with topsoil and/or compost to cover more area at a lower cost per square foot.

To be absolutely sure you get a top dressing with adequate nutrients for your variety of grass, send a soil test to your local extension office for analysis. Penn State Extension notes that grasses need 16 different nutrients to thrive, and your top dressing mix might not include each of these in adequate amounts.

Once you’ve selected the top dressing, empty the bags or dump the wheelbarrow loads throughout the lawn. Then use a garden rake to pull the top dressing out from the center pile on all sides. Try to get the top dressing about a quarter of an inch thick on all areas of your lawn. If you notice dips that you want to level out, add a thicker layer of your soil, sand, or compost and tamp it down.

What Is Lawn Top Dressing

How to TOP DRESS your lawn for a FLAT LEVEL surface

Top dressing is the process of spreading a thin layer of material over your lawn, or sections of your lawn. This layer is only about a 1/4 and is meant to amend the soil of your lawn while letting the existing grass grow through the top dressing material.

It is important to be clear that when top dressing your lawn you dont want to cover your lawn in a thick layer that suffocates it.

Instead, you are looking to improve soil conditions for your existing lawn while providing a good environment for new seed to germinate.

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How Does Top Dressing Help

Top dressing helps to increase nutrient retention, improve drainage and increase disease and pest resistance. It will encourage the production of new shoots, and result in a thicker lawn with the added benefit of hindering moss and weed infestations.

This thin layer of top dressing will also help your lawn to improve drainage and break down thatch and grass clippings easily. An added bonus is that top dressing allows the soil to retain moisture better during drier conditions as well as allowing excess moisture to drain away during heavy rainfall.

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.

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When Should You Top

Lawns are best top-dressed during periods of grass growth, so in the UK, thats anytime between April and October. Traditionally topdressing is carried out either in late spring or early autumn. This is done to correspond with the mainspring renovation or the autumn renovation programs.

Most gardening specialists would agree that top dressing a turf is best carried out after some type of lawn renovation has taken place. The most notable example of such a renovation is lawn aeration.

Improves The Quality Of Soil

Lawn Top Dresser ~ BestDressers 2020

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.

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Preparing Your Lawn For Top Dressing

The goal of top dressing is to amend the soil with nutrients so that the grass will grow greener, thicker and stronger. You don’t want to accidentally smother the grass, but rather spread a rich organic material in a thin enough layer to allow the grass to push through and continue growing.

Guess what else will push through and grow stronger than ever? Weeds. Do not expect top dressing to smother weeds while sparing your grass. Before top-dressing the lawn, take the time to cut out weedy sections with a shovel to reduce competition and encourage a more uniform look to your lawn once the grass grows in. Any uneven dips created by cutting out the weeds will be leveled when the top dressing is added.

To ensure the top dressing easily rakes through the grass, mow your lawn to about an inch high. You don’t want to scalp your lawn, but you do want it to be short. This is also the perfect time to bring out the aerator and allow oxygen to penetrate the soil while also breaking up any thatch.

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