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.
How Do You Top Dress An Existing Lawn
Spreading top dressing yourself can be labor-intensive. Before committing to a DIY top dressing project, its essential to consider how much work you are willing to do, or even have time to do. If you do plan to top dress your lawn, there are a few crucial factors to consider. It is best to apply your top dressing in the early spring after the last frost and before the temperatures heat up. Top dressing your yard during hot weather can burn and kill your grass.
Before you start spreading your top dressing, you will want to mow your Bermuda or Zoysia turf grass as short as possible. This process is known as scalping, and it removes the old dormant growth and helps jump-start new growth in the spring. You do not need to scalp St. Augustine grass. Next, have your lawn professionally aerated to reduce soil compaction and help the soil absorb the top-dressing nutrients. Weedex Lawn Care offers a core aeration service to aerate your grass before you add top dressing. to schedule your aeration treatment along with our annual lawn treatment program.
Bring Your Lawn Back To Life
Another excellent reason to top dress your lawn is to introduce organic rich topsoil which will in turn build your turf. We use an all organic, weed free, and disease free compost mix. When you order our topdressing service you can have confidence knowing you’re getting the best.
With the bulk of growth occurring in the spring, plus an abundance of rain, May is the time to build your soil and ensure it’s ready to support a lush lawn. Don’t wait until it’s too late during the heat of summer to improve your lawn. Now is the time to take action and love your lawn again.
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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.
What Is Lawn Top Dressing
At first glance, spreading compost or sand over your grass seems counterintuitive. Wont you smother your lawn?
Not if you do it correctly (which is what Ill cover today.
To top dress your lawn youll be spreading a thin layer of material usually compost, loam, or sand over your lawn. The layer spread is generally about ¼ of an inch in depth, and is used to amend and improve your lawns soil and improve moisture retention without interfering with the growth of existing grass.
It is important to note that top dressing involves you spreading a thin layer of whatever material you are using. You do not want to make the layer too thick, which may suffocate your existing grass.
The idea is to improve your lawns current condition while providing a healthy environment to facilitate the germination of new seeds.
Topdressing has been in practice since golf was invented in Scotland.
It is quickly becoming an option for homeowners who favor an organic or green lifestyle.
Top dressing is my preferred method of improving my lawn, and I generally do it once every other year after aerating my turf and overseeding my lawn.
Those three projects, when completed in tandem, are the best way to transform your yard in a weekend.
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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.
Topdressing After Dethatching Renovating And Aerating
You could say that topdressing is like dressing a wound. When a lawn is stressed because of moss removal or the soil was aerated, topdressing will help it heal.
- Dethatching, usually associated to moss removal, is the fact of breaking up the layer of lint that forms after repeated mowing. Blades of grass fall but dont decompose fast enough. Soil suffocates and only moss keeps growing. Also called scarification.
- Lawn renovation is a set of steps that helps rebuild an old or damaged lawn.
- Aerating the soil means pulling out plugs at close intervals or walking around with nail-equipped shoes. It breaks the crust and helps air and water trickle in.
- Reseeding the lawn or overseeding spreading new seeds for a more dense, lush lawn. This is either with the same grass as earlier, or because youd like to introduce a new type of grass. In the end, the variety most suited to the area will win over.
Note: if youre adding new lawn seeds:
- during maintenance topdressing spread seeds first, before topdressing
- during regenerative topdressing spread seeds after spreading the topdressing but before raking it down
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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.
Why Bother Feeding Your Lawn At All
You probably fall into one of three different camps when it comes to lawn care.
- Camp 1: You tend your lawn methodically. You fertilize regularly, mow frequently, and perhaps apply weed killers and pesticides a few times a year.
- Camp 2: You ignore your lawn except for keeping it mowed. You apply no fertilizers, you let the weeds flower for the pollinators, and you only consider pests if they happen to show up.
- Camp 3: Youve gone no-mow and let your grass grow tall, only trimming it a few times a year. You dont really even think about your lawn.
Im not here to pass judgment on any camp. Instead, Im here to tell you that no matter which camp you fall into, top dressing your lawn with compost is something you should be doing. Yes, its a way to reduce the usage of synthetic fertilizers if youre in Camp 1. But most importantly, for all Camps, top dressing lawn is the best way to improve the overall health of your turf grass and the soil beneath it. It makes your lawn more resistant to pests and better able to choke out weeds. It encourages a deep root system that can better withstand drought and nurtures the beneficial soil microbes that help grasses thrive, whether you mow the lawn every few days, once a week, or twice a season.
Later in this article, Ill explain each of these benefits in more detail, but for now, lets talk about what top dressing is and why compost is the best top dressing for a lawn.
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What Material Should I Topdress My Lawn Grass With
Should I topdress with topdressing sand, soil mix, compost, or a combination of these bulk materials. There are benefits to topdressing with sand, soil and compost.
Topsoil can be used for either by itself or blended with sand for a topdressing soil mix for your lawn. So what is the best soil top dressing for your lawn? Ideally, one that is loamy or sandy loam in texture, optimal pH, and contains some organic matter. We have soil that is ideal for planting grass or laying sod. However, it is difficult to topdress your lawn with. The soil is often too fine to spread easily and evenly, and tends not to fall into the core plugs. Topdressing with soil often leads to the same unevenness and clogs up a drag if the moisture level gets too wet. The other disadvantage with using soil to topdress is oversize particles . Very few topsoil or soil products can be screened less than ½ ¾ leaving the larger debris in the soil. It will end up on top of your lawn and rocks are very difficult or impossible to get out of the lawn. Mowers can end up throwing these rocks if left on top of the turf.
Ultimately, the best topdressing for lawns is with sand. Sand is the best value and benefit for the typical lawn, golf course, and athletic field in Georgia. However, that isnt always the case in for each situation and why we offer so many options to meet your projects needs and preferences.
With Terra You’re On To Greener Pastures
Do you want a lawn so LUSH, it looks like you could play a few rounds of golf on it? Well, youre in luck. This can be achieved through top dressing. Not only does top dressing turf make it look fantastic, it has a lot of other benefits. Our staff of expert, licensed lawn care professionals will determine which material is best for building better soil structure for your turf.
Top dressing has been the traditional method for golf course maintenance throughout history, but its becoming an increasingly popular method for home lawns, too. Its no wonder, since the results are so stunning and spectacular.
The top dressing process involves applying compost, soil, or sand over the surface of your lawn in order to add organic material and restore the balance, all while building better soil and increasing soil flora. When combined with core aeration, it buries that organic material deeper into the soil, which in turn helps to reduce traffic stress, relieve compaction problems, and assist in water retention.
The best time of year for top dressing lawns is in the fall for cool season grasses and in the spring for warm season grasses. This also allows you to combine other cultural practices, such as overseeding, with the top dressing for the best results. Well work closely and carefully with you and your lawn to make sure you have the richest, greenest yard on the block.
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Best Top Dressing For Lawns And Gardens
The selection of the correct top dressing is extremely important in order to match the underlying soil and prevent layering. If unsure of the composition of your soil, it may be advisable to collect a sample for analysis or consult a landscaper or reputable lawn care service. Your local extension office can also be of help.
Inspect the top dressing for debris, such as large rocks or weeds. Avoid chemically tainted agricultural soil that can kill turf. Compost is not recommended, as it may smother the roots. An organic soil, such as Black Dirt or dry sand will prevent water from penetrating too deeply and drowning the grass.
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.
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Big Benefits Of Top Dressing
Top dressing your lawn has several benefits
Helps to Create a Smooth Surface
If you have any undulations or low spots in your lawn, top-dressing can help to smooth them out.
Dont expect it to repair big divots or hollows in your lawn though. If your lawnmower bumps and bangs through low spots while cutting the grass you should remove the turf, add additional material to the soil and then re-lay the sod.
Helps in Controlling Lawn Thatch
When you top dress a lawn with good a high-quality mix, you introduce micro-organisms back into the soil. These help in the decomposition of organic material like dead grass roots, old clippings and other matter that causes lawn thatch to build up.
Improves the Soil Structure
Repeated applications of a sandy, loamy top dressing mixture to a heavy soil will improve the soil structure over time. Especially after hollow-tine aeration.
This will help to add nutrients back into the soil, improve drainage and reduce the chances of fungal infections like Lichens Red Thread, Pink Patch, Fusarium Patch and Snow Mould.
Likewise, adding a loam mix to a dry, sandy soil will help it to retain moisture. This in turn helps to break down nutrients and aid grass growth.
Improves Germination and Growth When Overseeding
Treatments like scarification and aeration are invasive so you should always spread new grass seed after to help the lawn recover.
When Is The Best Time To Top Dress
The best time to top dress your lawn is when it is actively growing and you are heading into prime growing conditions.
For cool season grasses late summer/early fall is best.
You hear a lot of talk about fall being a good time to seed your lawn, but in colder climates you have to be careful. In some regions if you wait until fall, the soil temperatures will likely be too cool for germination.
For warm season grasses the best time to top dress is early summer. This is when warm season grasses begin to take off.
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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.
Why Top Dress Your Lawn
There are so many benefits to top dressing your lawn, and Ill go over them here.
It is used to revive failing turf and supply your lawn with all the nutrients that your lawn needs.
Here are a few reasons why you should top dress your lawn:
- It improves aeration of soil
- Helps distribute nutrients naturally
- Breaks down thatch without the hassle of dethatching
- Can aid in gradually leveling your lawn
- Improves the soil quality of your yard
And Ill discuss each of these a bit more below.
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