What is Top Dressing? The Benefits, & How To For Your Yard

What is Top Dressing

Taking care of a natural grass lawn requires following a plan to ensure the soil will provide everything your grass needs to thrive. Yellowing grass or bald spots typically occur when the soil is too dry, missing nutrients, or otherwise inhospitable for growth. 

This doesn’t always mean that you have to undertake a massive project of removing and replacing the existing soil. A technique known as “top dressing” can often take care of many common lawn problems. 

What is top dressing? By learning more about the uses and benefits of top dressing, you can help your lawn without getting involved in a more extensive process.

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What is Top Dressing?

Top dressing is an important part of caring for your lawn, but what is top dressing exactly? Over time, your existing soil can lose nutrients and minerals and, as a result, your lawn won’t be able to sustain itself. You can replenish those important nutrients by adding a layer of organic material over the soil. 

This layer is typically no more than a quarter-inch in thickness, and you can lay it on any part of your lawn. While you can add top dressing to your entire yard, you can also use it in smaller sections. 

For example, if you have a bald spot in one corner of your yard but the rest of your yard is lush and green, you’ll only need to add top dressing to that bald spot.

Types of Top Dressing

There are three different types of top dressing, and each one is useful in a different setting. By learning how these organic materials benefit grass growth, you’ll be better able to determine which one is best for your lawn.

1. Sand

The use of sand as top dressing is primarily restricted to golf courses. It has the resiliency and bounce needed for soil in this type of setting. It’s also useful on grounds where the soil consists of heavy clay. In this environment, the sand helps with drainage.

2. Topsoil

This is a choice for homeowners that will help them save on the costs of the upkeep of their lawns. You can use it to level the ground, but you should be aware that it won’t provide much organic matter. Since it is low-cost, you can spread it farther for less.

3. Compost

Using compost is the best alternative for most lawns. Look for compost that has gone through a screening process to result in a fine particle size. You can choose a compost with a pH value as low as 6.5 or as high as 8.0.

What Are the Benefits of Using Top Dressing?

There are several reasons to use top dressing on your lawn. If you see any of the common problems in growing grass on your property, adding a layer of top dressing can help resolve these issues by:

  • Boosting the nutrient value of your topsoil
  • Enhancing the moisture content by supplementing the soil structure
  • Promoting the growth of helpful microbes in the soil
  • Reducing the need to add fertilizer

You can also use top dressing to even out the property on your terrain. If you have a need for a level base, adding top dressing and compacting it can help you create that level surface.

How Do You Lay Top Dressing?

After homeowners ask, “What is top dressing?” their next question tends to concern how to spread it on their lawn. There are a few different methods for completing this project. 

You can choose whichever method is more cost-effective or efficient for your situation. The size of your yard may also play a part in determining which method you will want to use.

Manually Laying Top Dressing

Pour the top dressing into a cart or wheelbarrow so you can move it more easily. Using a shovel, fling the top dressing around your yard. Next, you’ll use a garden fork or rake to even out the top dressing. The layer doesn’t have to be perfect, but you will want to break up clumps and shift the material to avoid smothering your healthy grass.

Use a Rolling Peat Moss Spreader

A metallic cylinder connects to two wheels and has an elongated handle, making it look similar to old-fashioned push lawnmowers. The cylinder has a mesh design, and you fill the cylinder with top dressing. As you push the spreader, the cylinder will rotate and evenly spread top dressing on your lawn. 

Use a Traditional Drop Spreader

This device has a large hopper that sits over spreader holes, so any material you put in the hopper will get spread on your lawn as you push the device along your lawn. 

Dry and finely screened compost or topsoil will work best since it will be less likely to clog the spreader holes. Make sure you manually open the drop holes when you’re ready to start spreading your top dressing.

Get Customized Help for a Greener Lawn

Every region has different types of grass, and each type has its own growing requirements. A local landscaping company will know what your particular lawn needs to thrive. By seeking out their insight ahead of time, you can provide the specialized care your grass needs to grow lush, green, and healthy.

Grass Works has been providing Expert Residential & Commercial Local Lawn Care Services in Central Texas: Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Avery Ranch, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Steiner Ranch & West Austin since 2007! Need help with your landscaping? Get a free estimate today!

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