How Top Dressing is Done for Improving Soil Condition of Your Lawn

Any turf professional will always advice you to do top dressing of your lawn by using a compost layer which should be about ¼” to ½” thick layer either during the spring season or during fall season.

If you use the lawn top dressing spreader in proper manner then certainly you can improve your soil condition without damaging the existing lawn. This kind of top dressing can address the following problems:

  • Low spots because of rotting tree roots, after underground cable/pipe/cable setting and installation.
  • Uneven terrain due to winter freezing/thawing, tunneling critters, water runoff or over a period of time general soil settling.
  • In low-lying places or high-traffic areas, where water may pool and soil get compacted.
  • Bare spots due to variations in the soil texture and the nutrients, drought, heat or any environmental damage.
  • Nutrient depletion due to neglect, leaching or repeated chemical fertilizers use.

How to do top dressing?

Following are 5 steps involved while doing top dressing of the soil of your lawn.

  • Aerate

After every 2 to 3 years your lawns must be aerated and start with nice core aeration if it is due. Core aeration can remove soil plugs from ground and will leave channels for air and water.

  • Prepare top-dressing

Prepare your own top-dressing by using mixture of the following:

  • Sharp sand (do not use sea sand that contains lime).
  • Topsoil or loam which is fine crumbly soil which is neither sandy nor clay.
  • Peat or compost in case your soil requires nutritional punch

Mix all these three ingredients in equal proportion for average soil. For clay soil, reduce loam/topsoil and for sandy soil, try to reduce sand.

  • Apply top-dressing

Now spread the soil by using something flat similar to back side of heavy garden rake, by working it in the aeration holes and by covering low spots.

Ensure that top-dressing is not more than 1” over your existing grass.

  • Water and adjust

Technically now at this point you are finished, but any good top-dressing mixture must do some settling. It is recommended to water the area well and allow the mixture to settle down for a couple of days.

Then go back along with your rake, smooth out if any little bumps or hollows that may get developed.

  • Plant grass if required

You can now replant your grass in any kind of bare spots. Your existing grass must grow through almost 1” of top-dressing.


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