With the season of fall upon us, many homeowners feel the heavy work of lawn care is done. But actually there is something that you can do now in the fall that will help your lawn become golf course worthy in the summer, and that is top dressing. Top dressing is simply the process of applying a layer of soil, compost or sand over the top surface of your lawn.
The Benefits of Top Dressing
There are many benefits to top dressing your lawn. Top dressing will improve the overall quality of the lawns’ soil over time and this will promote new growth. Adding sandy soils improves the lawns’ ability to retain moisture making it more resistant to drought. If you have clay soil, it will be able to drain better thereby improving the root development.
An additional benefit of top dressing is that it will help to level out lumpy and bumpy areas that are often present on residential lawns. Top dressing your lawn will also stimulate the grass to develop new shoots resulting in a denser grass cover, which in turn will help to deter weed growth and possible moss infestation.
The Process of Top Dressing
When top dressing your lawn, begin by making a mixture of sand, loam and peat. Depending on your soil type, the proportions of these 3 ingredients will vary. For a loamy soil type, mix 3 parts loam to 3 parts sand to 1 part peat. Ensure these ingredients are dry before you begin mixing them so that they will mix easily.
Always use a good quality peat rather than garden compost. Garden compost can often contain weed seeds which can germinate in the lawn and cause problems later. You should also ensure that the sand is lime free, therefore sea sand is not recommended. If you have a heavy clay soil, increase the amount of sand while reducing the amount of loam in the top dressing mix. Adversely, for sandy soils, reduce the amount of sand in your mix.
The texture of the top dressing mixture should be very fine. This allows the top dressing to easily penetrate the surface of the grass reaching the existing soil. Running the mixture through a soil sieve (1/4” holes) before applying will help to achieve a fine mix.
It is often recommended to aerate your lawn a few days prior to applying a top dressing. Use a spade to apply a thin, even layer of the top dressing over your lawn. You can use the back side of a rake to evenly spread the top dressing. The layer should be no more than 1/2” deep. Work the mixture into the grass until the grass peeks through and the depth is relatively even.
Once the top dressing is applied you can give your lawn a light watering to help settle the new soil into the lawn.
Top dressing should be done annually, especially for lawns that have poor soil quality. Performing this simple process will improve the health of your lawn and help you achieve that golf-course quality look.