Top Dressing

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 it’s 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 don’t 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 doesn’t make sense to spread compost or sand over your grass. The grass is supposed to hold dirt. It’s a great thing to do on a regular basis, and this is what topdressing is.

Spreading compost and sand over the grass is how topdressing a lawn is accomplished. Homeowners are looking for organic lawn care strategies, and this practice is gaining popularity with them.

Benefits of Topdressing a Lawn

It’s difficult to comprehend why topdressing isn’t the foundation for every lawn care program. Adding organic matter and beneficial organisms can improve soil biology. Corrective materials can be used to modify the soil constitution and drainage. It is possible to smooth out bumps caused by worm castings if you top dress regularly. Topdressing helps keep thatch under control by reducing lawn stresses. Adding organic matter to a lawn is the most beneficial cultural practice that the science of lawn care has to offer.

When a new lawn isn’t performing well, or the soil is losing oomph, it’s not possible to pull all of the grass up. The benefits of topdressing in your lawn are still challenging.

Adding organic matter to the soil will improve poor soil by enhancing its productive properties, as well as smoothing out terrain from worm castings and freeze/thaw cycles.

Reducing the need for fertilization is a good thing.

What Topdressing Material to Use

The first step is to decide what type of topdressing material you want to use. It needs to be like the underlying soil in order to be effective and beneficial. There are serious problems that can be caused by choosing the wrong material.

The development of a distinct layer that impairs air and water movement is caused by the use of topdressing mixes with drastically different textures and compositions to the underlying soil.

Man-made greens are where sand is used the most. It is possible to use it with heavy clay soils to improve drainage. Over coarse-textured soil, fine sand should not be used.

Compost is the best material to use, as long as it is completely finished and has few fillers.

If you are using compost that contains any type of fertilizer or weed killer, make sure they have been removed before applying them on your lawn.

You can also add some mulch around plants in order to keep weeds away from their roots.

This will help prevent diseases and pests from attacking these plants.

It’s important to remember not all fertilizers contain harmful chemicals; however, if you want to be extra careful, always read labels carefully.

Homeowners often mix the materials to create a blend that is comparable to their existing soil. Most of the time, a combination of compost and soil is recommended.

If you are looking for sand or topsoil, it is possible to buy it from a landscape or construction company.

The Best Materials for Topdressing

The materials used for topdressing are usually dictated by the budget and lawn needs. Compost can vary in quality and be expensive, which is why most topdressing is performed with it. Compost should be made from the right ratios of wet and dry materials; high-quality compost is dark and rich and contains a variety of organic materials. If you blend commercial compost with soil or sand to make it more affordable and easier to spread, be aware that the added soil might not be compatible with your lawn.

It is hard to find good topdressing compost. Some sources try to save money by selling the compost too early before it has cooked and enough finished compost in the mixture. It’s fine for the topdressing mixture to have some organic material that isn’t yet dead, but too much filler negates the benefits. It’s important to always buy your compost from a trustworthy source.

Sand can be used to topdress lawns with heavy clay soils or drainage problems. Sand can be applied after aerating to fill in the holes and change the structure of the soil to allow for better drainage.

Topdressing your lawn with some tips

Lawn Care

Topdressing your lawn is a very labour-intensive project and can be done by yourself. Motorized spreader machines are available for rent at some home improvement centers, which will increase the cost but reduce labour.

The thatch breakdown and the soil are improved by routine topdressing. Your yard has raised the grade by it. It’s best not to topdress your entire lawn frequently in order to make sure you don’t raise it too much. Every few years, treat the bare spots and lawn with care.

A very light topdressing application can be completed more often if the amount added is shallow enough to be brushed into aeration holes.

Time is calculated according to your grass type. The warm-season grasses are in the spring and the cool-season grasses in the fall. Before the heat or cold sets in, this allows three or four mows.

Growing new grass can be done with other cultural practices.

If it’s too much of a project to tackle yourself, some lawn care companies offer top dressing services. It requires a lot of work and is not widely available, but it is becoming more popular because of demand.

How Much Material Will I Need to Topdress a Lawn?

There is a table showing how much material you will need to topdress your lawn. It may take several applications to introduce enough material for your goal if you have a particularly problematic lawn.

A square foot has the amount of soil needed to topdress it.

Depth of topdressing (inches) Volume of soil required (cubic yards)

1/8 inch 0.40

1/4 inch 0.77

3/8 inch 1.14

1/2 inch 1.54

5/8 inch 1.91

3/4 inch 2.31

When is the most appropriate time to topdress?

When you are heading into prime growing conditions, the best time to top dress is when it is actively growing.

Late summer and early fall are the best times to grow cool-season grasses.

There is a lot of talk about fall being a good time to seed your lawn, but in cold climates, you need to be careful. If you wait until fall, the soil temperatures will be too warm to grow.

Early summer is the best time to top dress for warm-season grass. Grasses begin to take off during this time of the year.

Steps to Topdressing

Soil testing for topdressing lawn

  • If you want to topdress your lawn, it’s a good idea to test the soil. It’s a good time to do a soil test to make sure you have the right amount of food in your garden.
  • If you want to kill lawn weeds without killing your lawn, you need to spot treat them a couple of days before dressing up.
  • If you have clumps of poa bentgrass or other nuisance grasses, it is best to manually dig out the bad sections. The grasses can be difficult to control with drugs.
  • Purchase quality compost to increase the amount of food on your lawn. You can add drainage by buying coarse sand. The benefits of both compost and sand can be received by mixing them together.

It could make your drainage problems worse if you get a lot of fines.

If you want to save money, this is the step. You’ll end up costing yourself more. Make sure you use a good product when amending your lawn’s soil.

  • You can dump a bunch of small piles over your lawn by filling your wheelbarrow. You can ensure that you are creating a thin layer by dumping small piles.
  • An aluminum landscape rake is the best because it creates a smooth layer. If you’re trying to smooth out a yard that is bumpy, this is useful.

It is a good idea to break up clumps of compost and make sure you rake out each area so that it is not more than 1/2″ thick. Once your material is raked in, there should be some grass visible.

Start with a starter Fertilizer is applied. There is a higher number of Phosphorus in starter fertilizers.

Early development is aided by the help of Phosphorus.

When using a broadcast spreader, apply twice in the same direction. Make sure the settings on your spreader are adjusted accordingly.

For example, if the bag of fertilizer says to set your spreader at a 3.5, then I set the dial to a 2 (rounding up) and apply twice in opposite directions. This is a good place to get a better understanding of application rates.

It is time to apply your seed after you have applied your starter fertilization. Again, apply in opposite directions using a broadcast spreader.

Before purchasing any seed, do some research.

You can’t go wrong using this mix in the northeastern part of the country. It’s definitely not the cheapest, but it’s good. You don’t want cheap stuff. Anything that says contractors mix is a good place to stay away from.

Irrigation setup is important. This battery-operated irrigation controller is for people who don’t have an irrigation system. You have the option to schedule them multiple times a day.

You can set up to four zones per controller and get two sprinklers per zone. This will allow you to stay out of sprinklers all day and cover a lot of square footage.

The weather can change during the early to late summer season. There are really hot days that can happen. Prepare for these hot days by watching the weather and planning. To grow new seeds, it’s important to be constantly damp.

Topdressing with small equipment

It will help to have specific equipment for lawns that are between 50 and 500 square yards. Let’s check out the possible options.

There is a hamper for small hand-powered push topdressingers. The topdressing mix should be placed in the soil and criss-cross across the lawn. It’s the same tool that is used to spread seeds. The mix is spread evenly by the spinning Gravity and spinners.

The topdressing dispensers have blades that project the mix around. It’s very simple to get the hang of it. It’s very even to spread the topdressing.

There are rollers made from medium-mesh wire, which you fill up and push along the grass, drilled barrels, or other objects.

This equipment is usually used to break up clumps. To use the device, you need a single pass. If a manual pass is done, the grass blades will be pulled up.

Topdressing that is motorized

It’s pretty much mandatory for larger gardens to have motorized devices. The golf course care of tractors and modified trucks have been designed. You can see smaller variations of self-propelled dispensers.

Attaching your regular tractor lawnmower to atow-type dispensers will make it easier. If you check with your tractor brand, you can see what accessories are appropriate for topdressing.

Topdressing dispensers and seed and fertilizer dispensers are the same things.

After spreading the mix, wide brush accessories should be used for raking. The Fertiliser should be applied as a starter.


Topdressing may appear easy, but it requires a level of precision and a degree of knowledge about the best soil for your lawn. Consider contacting a professional lawn care service for expert advice and help.

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