Getting the thickest, healthiest lawn requires putting some effort into lawn care. Top dressing a lawn is a great way to improve its quality and helping it to grow stronger and fuller.
Applying top dressing does involve some physical labor, and some may wish to have it done by a local lawn care company, but it is not really that difficult to do.
By following these few simple instructions, any homeowner can top dress their lawn, and see the results in the form of a healthier, greener landscape.
Why Top Dress?
Great lawns need good soil to grow in. By adding a loose, thin layer of soil or compost to lawns, homeowners can slowly improve the quality of their soil, and provide necessary nutrients to their lawn.
Top dressing is also a good solution for low spots, bare spots where grass will not grow due to poor soil makeup, and reducing soil compaction, all of which help create a healthier, more beautiful lawn in the end.
Top Dressing A Lawn
Companies who provide lawn care assert that top dressing should be done in early spring or fall, when the grass is actively growing and there is no danger of a lawn going dormant from heat or cold. This important lawn care task involves a few important steps, as follows:
- Mow and Aerate – Top dressing should occur after a lawn has been mowed, so the grass is as short as possible. Then, after aeration. Aeration helps to reduce soil compaction, while also providing spaces for the top dressing to fall into, more quickly becoming a part of the existing lawn.
- Prepare Top Dressing – For most soil, a good top dressing mixture is one part each of sand, topsoil or loam, and peat or compost. If soil is already sandy, remove the sand component. For clay soil, remove the topsoil/loam. Another option is to just buy top dressing at a local garden center, since they likely carry the right type for local soil.
- Apply Top Dressing – The mixture should be applied a few square feet at a time. Shovel it onto the grass and then spread it around gently with a metal rake so that the layer is thin and loose, and works down to the soil level, allowing existing grass to pop up. Layers should be one-half to one inch thick only, since any more than that could damage the existing lawn. Gently rake the mixture so it sifts through to the ground and falls into aeration holes, rather than sitting on top of the grass.
- Water – Watering the lawn after the top dressing is recommended to help the top dressing settle into the lawn better. If it is possible to do it on a day when rain is expected, even better.
Overseeding During Top Dressing
For thin lawns or lawns with bare spots, one of the best times to overseed is when doing top dressing. The top dress provides nutrients, and a looser covering for sprouting grass. New grass will then quickly root into the existing lawn. Since overseeding and sprouting new grass should also be done in the early spring or fall, there is no better time to do this than while also top dressing a lawn.
When applied in several light coatings, top dressing can be done in both spring and fall for problematic lawns in need of help, until the soil quality improves. For maintenance purposes, top dressing once every two or three seasons can be a very beneficial part of routine lawn care.
Any lawn care company should be able to provide this service, but for the homeowner who enjoys working in the yard and getting their hands a little dirty, top dressing is a relatively easy lawn maintenance task to perform. The thicker, greener lawn that results will easily make the effort well worth the time spent!