Top dressing lawn is one of the best ways to renovate a lawn when it starts to show signs of weakness. No matter how much effort you put, the lawn will just give up on you when the time comes. Sometimes the lawn looks great in spring but it immediately changes into a different state under the summer heat. When that happens, you have to prepare for top dressing your lawn. To be able to do that, you have to know the benefits and reasons to top dressing the lawn first.
What Is Lawn Top Dressing?
Lawn top dressing is the process of spreading a thin layer of compost or sand over the lawn. Sometimes, top dressing can also be done on certain sections of the lawn where it starts to look less fresh. Generally, top dressing requires you to apply only ¼ inches of a layer of a material of your choice. Then, you will let the existing grass on the lawn grow through the top dressing material. It takes a few seasons to see the full results, so you have to be patient.
What Are The Benefits Of Lawn Top Dressing?
You probably wonder why you should top dressing your lawn once in a while, and here’s why. Lawn top dressing provides a lot of benefits to your lawn to ensure its health and growth. The last thing you want is a dead lawn that looks so dull it murders the landscape of the house. There are many benefits of lawn top dressing, and here are 5 of them:
- Distressed Lawn Renovation: As time goes by, you will notice bare spots or weeds growing in the lawn. This is when you should top dressing the law to correct the conditions of the soil. Along with that, it helps to incorporate new seeds for your lawn also which is a total bonus.
- Lawn Leveling: Just like what I discussed in the previous article (https://livelygardening.com/how-to-level-a-yard/), topdressing is among the effective ways to level a lawn. It simply helps to smooth out the areas while allowing healthy grasses to regrow. So if you have a bumpy lawn or yard, topdressing is one of the approaches to use.
- Seed Germination: In case you choose over-seeding or re-seeding for top dressing, it provides 2 benefits. One, it helps to renovate and rescue the lawn to a healthier state. Two, it allows the seed to make direct contact with soil which aids the growth of the grass.
- Soil Improvement: Top dressing not only rescues the life of your lawn but also improves the soil quality. It does so by organically adding nutrients to the lawn and improving drainage for more ventilation to the soil.
- Thatch Breakdown: Nobody wants a roof of straws and reeds to live happily ever after on their lawn. Top dressing is one of the methods that break down thatch from your lawn. The top dressing material simply breaks down thatch layers in the lawn from growing too tall. Some people claim that thatch is good and normal for lawn, but it is not always the case. A thatch roof is a warm and dry place that pests come to find food or live in. To avoid such problems, you will need to get rid of thatch from your lawn.
Top Dressing Lawn Equipment
Garden or lawn owners definitely have some important equipment for top dressing such as rakes to aerate the soil. However, things are different in top dressing which means you will need certain equipment to do the job. Normally, there are 3 common types of topdressing lawn equipment that you can find on the market. Each of them is good in its own way, and the decision is all yours.
1. Compost Spreader
Goes by many names such as mulch spreader or peat moss spreader, compost spreader is among the best lawn top dressing equipment. The special thing about this tool is that it evenly distributes compost and other materials on the lawn. Because there are even openings, this equipment simply spreads the top dressing materials evenly every time. On top of that, you can use it with not only top dressing materials but also seeds and more. You will come across so many compost spreaders on the market, but I want to recommend a high-quality option. The compost spreader below is better than the rest because it is durable yet lightweight which is so convenient to use. It does not corrode or rust easily, and it is ideal for long-term use. Check it out and see if you like it.
2. Drop Spreader
In my opinion, this one is the most useful equipment among the three. Mainly because you can use it for several other purposes apart from lawn top dressing. It features a flexible design that allows it to carry fertilized, grass seed, and more. This simply means you can also use this equipment for your gardens and lawns in any season throughout the year. Its job is to evenly distribute whatever materials you want it to spread on the lawn. And if you look for the best drop spreaders for your lawn, there is one that stands out the most. I like this option because it comes with adjustable spreader settings that you can choose from. With it, you will be able to spread fertilizer, seed, or top dressing materials at the right amount that you like. Since it is useful all year, maybe you want to take a look.
3. Hand Spreader Shaker
Things are getting more and more convenient, and you even have special equipment for seed spreading in the lawn. I did not know it exists until I recently came across one when I searched for some easy-to-use seed spreaders. This hand spreader looks just like a coffee cup, but it has holes in the lid. The lid has 3 adjustable openings that you can choose from for different types of materials or seeds. All you need to do is fill the cup with the materials and start spreading, simple as that. Plus with the ergonomic handle, you won’t have to sprinkle the seeds using your hand again. From ice melt crystals to seeds and more, this mini cup here works with them all. So if you look for convenient and versatile topdressing equipment, this can be your next favorite tool.
Steps To Top Dressing A Lawn
The perfect time to top dress your lawn is when the cooler weather is close, allowing for great conditions. Cool seasons for grasses are early fall or late summer, and those are the best time for lawn top dressing. Once the right time comes, the following steps below are what you have to do to topdressing your lawn.
Step 1: Test The Soil
More often than most, there are many different causes that require you to topdressing the lawn. This is why you should do a soil test to make sure that you know which method is correct. It could be nutrients deficiencies or the pH of the lawns needs a fix to be back to normal. If the soil pH is out of range, you will have to adjust it accordingly.
Step 2: Eliminate The Weeds
To start fresh, you have to ensure that the lawn is clean and ready for renovation. A few days before you start top dressing, begin by eliminating all the weeds from the lawn first. You can either hand-pull them if there are not too many of them or use herbicide for a faster result. Pick a good herbicide to ensure that it only kills the weeds without affecting the lawn.
Step 3: Remove Bad Sections
In certain conditions, some areas of the lawn may have bentgrass, poa, or other clumps forming. The best way to deal with them is to dig them out by using an edging shovel. Unlike weeds, they are difficult to kill by using herbicides which is why you have to physically remove them.
Step 4: Lawn Mowing
One day before top dressing, mow the grass on your lawn as short as possible without stressing the grass too much. Then bag or remove all of the grass clipping and the de-thatching debris from the lawn. After you finished all these, your lawn is ready for top dressing the next day.
Step 5: Top Dressing Your Lawn
Whether or not your lawn has good quality or poor soil, aerate the core of the soil first. Use an aerator or a power rake to create channels in the soil so that the top dressing material can penetrate the surface. Then spread a thin layer of topdressing material over the lawn, do that in piles if your lawn is big. You can rake it to make it uneven later, and fill the holes on the lawn if there are any. When raking, try to get the material to touch the soil as much as possible. If you choose over-seeding, spread the grass seed after you aerate the soil. Break down the clumps of compost so that the layer is even on the lawn.
Tips For Lawn Top Dressing
- Avoid covering a thick layer on the lawn during topdressing because it will suffocate the existing grass. You can tell how thin it needs to be by making sure that plenty of grass is visible in the end.
- Combine your lawn topdressing material with core aerating and over-seeding will bring you even greater and more satisfying results.
- If you over-seed, make sure to keep the soil moist but not too wet when you start the process. Keep the soil condition this way until the seeds grow because some compost can be too hot for germination. Use aged compost or compost mixed with good topsoil, and the result will be fruitful.
- The best time for lawn top dressing is the beginning of spring, end of summer, middle of autumn, and middle of spring. However, the soil temperatures can be too cool for the germination of the seeds in some regions. So you should focus on in this case is the ideal temperature for seed growth.
Best Lawn Top Dressing Materials
If you are new to top lawn topdressing, I want to recommend some of the best materials that you can try. Each material is easy to find, and they are beneficial to your lawn in their own ways. The choice is all yours to pick the lawn top dressing materials that you think are the most suitable.
1. Coffee Ground
There are so many incredible advantages that coffee ground offers in our daily life. One of those is being one of the best lawn top dressing materials that you can easily find. All you need is a small amount of coffee ground to spread on the lawn. Make sure that the coffee ground that you use is not acidic or it will change the pH of the lawn. Because it has high nitrogen, this material is a perfect aid for grasses. On top of that, it is also a great bug and insect repellent as well. It keeps the pests away while keeping your lawn and soil healthy, how great is that?
It is a very common and popular lawn top dressing mix option among many. It provides the highest amount of nutrients for both long-term and short-term to the lawn. The key is to know how to use it at its best so that it delivers satisfying results. Compost is best when the composting process can bring it to high temperatures over 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). It can eliminate not only weed seeds but also possible pests from the lawn. At the same time, it is great for fauna and flora also which is another good thing.
3. Forest Soil
For those who live near the forest, you have the privilege of using forest soil for your lawn. The awesome thing about forest soil is that it is as rich as compost which is good for the lawn. If you can gather some, make sure to remove the leaf and sticks from it first. Then you will have great topdressing material for your lawn.
We all know that manure is the most natural fertilizer that you can easily find, especially from a farm. Manure is best when it is fresh, but it is still usable even when it is dry. In this case, you have to shred the clumps into small pieces when applying it onto the lawn. The great thing about manure is that it is very rich in microbial life which is beneficial for lawn soil. It might not smell so pleasant at first, but its effectiveness is undeniably excellent.
Pick the right sand when you want to use it as a top dressing material for your lawn. The best type of sand to choose is quarry sand or river sand, and avoid seaside sand at all costs. Well, because salt will kill the lawn instead of bringing it back to life. When you use sand, it helps to increase drainage while enhancing the soil structure for the lawn. This material is more common for golf courses, but you can try it for your lawn also.
It was rather a surprise to realize that seaweed is an actually good material for lawn top dressing. That is because it contains a lot of nitrogen which is a great addition to lawn soil. To properly use it, you have to rinse and dry it to eliminate sea salt substances first. Then shred it into small pieces before spreading them to the lawn.
Lawn top dressing is one of the tasks that you should know when you start having a lawn. It is a great boost to the health of the lawn, and it also brings the lawn back to life. Besides the benefits that I addressed above, top dressing also helps the lawn to recover from various conditions. Those are heat stress, soil compaction, water stress, and more. Keeping your lawn healthy also means having a beautiful landscape in front of the house, so don’t overlook this part.