Best Top Dressing Lawn Guide

Growing a lawn primarily by proper soil modifications with nutrients and organic matter is not enough to keep it lush green for longer times. While managing the lawn is the most resource-intensive practice for longer health and life of grass.

Top Dressing the lawn with organic matter is a crucial practice to revitalize the soil microorganisms with time. Adding the organic by top dressing is the best alternative to synthetic fertilizers that has potential soil and plant problems.

Top Dressing the lawn is becoming popular in many developed countries with time and is a popular practice to improve the lawn condition. It adds a significant amount of nutrients and improves the soil profile by adding microorganisms.

But most people have no proper guidance on top dressing lawns with organic matter. That’s why gardeners and growers are unable to get the maximum benefit of the top dressing technique.

This guide completely defines the importance of top dressing, its benefits to lawn, practices for top dressing lawns, and the products that are good for doing top dressing.

Let’s get started.

What Is Lawn Top Dressing?

Topdressing is actually the practice of spreading a very thin layer of any material like sand or compost, over your lawn. The layer is just ¼” thick, not more than this.

The purpose of top dressing is to amend the soil with organics and amending the lawn soil while not disturbing the already growing grass through the top dressing material applied.

Benefits of Topdressing a Lawn

Soil loses its oomph or fertility status with time and growing plants again and again and it is very feasible to uproot all the grass to amend the soil. Topdressing is the best alternative to amend the soil with many additional benefits as:

  • It adds organic matter to the soil profile that improves the fertility and productivity of the soil.

  • It reduces the thatch.

  • Reduces the intensive fertilization needs.

  • Helps in smoothing the uneven terrains.

  • Improves the soil structure and water holding capacity.

  • Helps in the build-up of beneficial soil microbes.

What Topdressing Material to Use

Deciding the top dressing material is an important and crucial step in the whole practice. To get the maximum benefits of topdressing material, it should have better texture similarity with soil.

Compost and sand are the most used topdressing materials, while the custom-blended mixture is also used.

  • Sand – used on heavy clay soils

  • Topsoil – similar to existing soil structure

  • Compost – most recommended material

  • A blended mixture of all the above material as the choice of homeowners

How to Top Dress a Lawn

Here is the complete step to step guide on top dressing lawn:

  1. Soil testing: The first thing to do is testing the soil to correct the nutrient deficiencies in the soil.

  2. Kill weeds: Kill all the weed plants from the lawn before the top dressing for getting the effective output of the top dressing.

  3. Choosing the material: Select and buy the quality topdressing material to add nutrients to the lawn. If using sand, purchase coarse sand to add drainage.

  4. Small piles of material: Start dumping the material in the lawn by putting the whole material in a dump cart and make small piles over the lawn.

  5. Rake or smoothing: Use a rake to smooth a thin layer of material over the lawn. Make sure to break if any clumps of compost are found in the material with the help of a rake. The layer should be so much thin that grass is visible through the material.

  6. Starter fertilizer: Apply the starter fertilizer rich in phosphorus. Use any broadcast spreader for spreading the fertilizer equally.

  7. Seeding: Then comes the seeding stage after starter fertilization. Use any seed spreader for seeding.

  8. Irrigation: Irrigate the lawn just after the seeding to get maximum growth efficiency. Set the irrigation frequency higher in earlier days and lowering with time.

Techniques to top-dress the lawn

There are some valuable techniques for the top-dressing lawns. All of the methods or techniques have a unique benefit.

  1.  Topdressing by hand

The most simple method of top dressing is by hand. In this method, you spread the material over the lawn with your hand. Additionally, you will need a garden fork, shovel, and wheelbarrow for transporting material.

Scoop the compost from the wheelbarrow with help of a shovel and smooth it over the grass with your hand and move forward to the whole lawn.

  1.  Using rolling peat moss spreader

Using a rolling peat moss spreader is technically a perfect match for spreading compost as top dressing material over the lawn. These spreaders have a rotating barrel-like structure with metal mesh openings.

You will just need to fill the rolling barrel with compost and walk through the yard and the compost will drop through the mesh smoothly. But it works great if the compost is dry and screened.

  1.  Using a drop spreader for top dressing

Drop spreader works with traditional drop style technique and works best for top dressing dry compost.

Drop spreaders have holes in the bottom that can be adjusted as required. Fill the hopper with compost and sand material, and open the drop holes and start moving along the lawn.

  1.  Using broadcast spreader

The commonly used broadcast spreader is also used to top-dress your lawn. It has a spinning wheel at the bottom for dropping the compost. The wheel spins and tosses the compost onto the lawn.

  1.  Using tractor attachment spreader

If you have a larger yard then you must have a lawn tractor. It will be worthwhile to purchase a tractor attachment spreader that has multiple uses for spreading fertilizer, compost, and other materials.

These tow-behind spreaders have large hoppers with adjustable holes. You can use them for seeding the lawn too. It will help you in the whole process from soil preparation, fertilization, seeding, to top dressing.

When Is the Best Time to Top Dress

The best time to top-dress your lawn completely depends on the type of grass in your lawn. The time to top-dress for warm and cool-season grasses is entirely different.

The best time to top dress the warm season grasses in spring while the fall season is good for top dressing the cool-season grasses.

Warm-season grasses are:

  • Bermuda grass

  • Zoysia grass

  • St. Augustine

  • Carpet grass

  • Centipede grass

Cool-season grasses are:

  • Fescues

  • Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Ryegrass

  • Bentgrass

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