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Top Dressing Lawn With Compost

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How To Topdress Your Lawn With Compost

An added boost to help your lawn is to do a Compost Top Dressing at the same time as aeration and seeding because the seeds need direct soil contact to germinate. We cannot say enough about how awesome a compost top dressing is for a lawn! It doesnt matter if you have a warm season lawn or a Fescue lawn compost top dressing makes a huge difference. The timing for when you can top dress lawns is the same as the timing of when you would aerate a lawn. We recommend aerating first and then spreading 1 cubic yard of high quality compost for every 1,000 square feet of turf.

For Fescue lawns, we recommend doing a compost top dressing at the same because the seeds need direct soil contact to germinate. We will aerate and seed first and then come back with a rich layer of compost , essentially making a seed sandwich. The compost top dressing will ensure the seed receives 100% soil contact. Another great benefit of compost top dressing, it will completely change the soil structure for the better.

For warm season lawns, the aeration and compost top dressing is typically done in May or June. The grass should be fully greened up when the top dressing is performed in order to get the best results from it.

Free, Fast, & Easy

Broadcast Or Drop Spreader

A drop spreader has adjustable holes at the bottom and a mechanism fitted on the handle, allowing you to set the preferred opening sizes.

Just like the peat moss spreader, it works best with dry and screened compost. Clumpy or wet compost will clog the spreader holes, and unless you have a tow-behind drop spreader it still may not work well for you.

I include this tool here because its helpful for spreading grass seed if youre spreading seed on your lawn as you top dress. But I do prefer to use a broadcast spreader if you have to use one or the other.

A broadcast spreader has a spinning wheel attached beneath a single hole from which the compost drops. When the wheel spins, it tosses seed or fertilizer across the lawn instead of dropping it beneath the spreader directly.

Some people use these spreaders for fine, dry compost but I dont recommend that its not the best way to do the job.

Should You Be Using Compost Or Topsoil In Your Yard

The majority of composts applications are focused on potting soil, top-layer fertilizers, and soil amendments. Topsoil is better for raising soil levels or filling in landscape gaps. When you order topsoil in bulk, the dirt is usually made up of a mixture of organic matter and dirt. Grass can be fertilized with compost rather than synthetic fertilizers to improve its quality and reduce water usage, while also keeping it healthy. The average application rate for compost is ten tons per acre, which is roughly four times the rate for synthetic fertilizers. Composting, on the other hand, is more expensive than synthetic fertilizers. The cost of spreading 10 tons of compost per acre is $400, while the cost of spreading 4 tons of synthetic fertilizer is $160. Composting costs $700 per acre, while synthetic fertilizers cost $440.

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Alternatives To Compost For Lawns

Apart from compost, there are other effective materials- both natural and synthetic- that you can use to enrich your lawn soil or boost its aeration, drainage, and water-retention qualities. They include peat moss, sand, and chemical fertilizers.

  • Peat Moss Just like compost, peat moss is another top-dressing material that improves soil quality by boosting water-retention and facilitating aeration. However, it can affect soil pH through increased acidity, thus should not be used as a stand-alone top-dressing material.
  • Sand Sand top-dressing is best used on uneven lawns with bumps and dips that need to be levelled. Its sometimes mixed inside compost to boost soil drainage in clay-based lawns.
  • Commercial fertilizer Synthetic/ chemical fertilizer is not a top-dressing material, but it can also feed the soil with essential nutrients, making it another viable alternative to compost fertilizer.

Final Thoughts On Top Dressing Lawn And Yards

Home and Garden

Lawn care never ends. A picture-perfect lawn needs continual care to ensure it gets the nutrients it requires.

After topdressing your lawn successfully, the next thing you need is patience.

You might need to reapply the top dressing, and the results might take a while, but pretty soon you can get on a schedule of top-dressing and over-seeding once every few years and your lawn will stay looking great with minimal effort.

Top dressing your lawn, if done correctly, will improve water and nutrient retention, drainage, and so much more, and its a time-tested method to achieve great results in your yard.

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How Does Composting Happen

Microbes work in three stages to create compost in the presence of oxygen and water. The length of the process depends on how involved you are, the size of your pile, and what you put into it.

The right balance of ingredients allows the growth of plants to break down carbon and nitrogen so they can release oxygen into the atmosphere. The more water you have in your soil, the more greenery will grow.

The process of composting takes anywhere from a few months to three years, according to Daily Gardener experts. If you want to get your lawn and garden in shape quicker, there are many steps you can take.

Composting is an important part of living a sustainable lifestyle and can help your garden. Heres how to do it.

Rake The Compost Into The Lawn

You can spread the compost with just about any rake, but a metal rake with sturdy tines will work best to scratch up the soil surface and incorporate the compost. At each pile, rake the compost out in all directions, 360°. Rake until the point that the grass blades are almost fully visible through the compost.

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Benefits Of Topdressing A Lawn

When the soil under your grass starts to lose its oomph, or its a new lawn that isnt doing well, pulling all of the grass up to amend it isnt a feasible option. Topdressing is a simpler albeit still challenging way to see the following benefits in your lawn.

  • Adds organic matter to the topsoil, improving poor soil by enhancing its productive properties
  • Improves the soil structure, water holding capacity, and cation exchange capacity
  • Builds up beneficial soil microbes
  • Smooths out uneven terrain from worm castings, freeze/thaw cycle, or water runoff
  • Reduces the need for fertilizing

Top Dressing A Lawn: How To Do It And Its Benefits

How to Topdress Your Lawn with Compost

When you own a home with a lawn, you quickly learn that maintaining it is a lot of work. One of the lesser-known but vital tasks is topdressing. As a business owner, a well-maintained lawn is a key to making a good impression on customers and clients. First impressions matter and an unkempt lawn can send the wrong message about your business.

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How Soon Will I See The Benefits Of Topdressing With Compost

When you add compost as topdressing to your lawn it is not a quick fix so dont expect to see the benefits overnight.

Topdressing your lawn with compost is all about getting nutrients back into the soil that is in the root system of your lawn.

Its not like spraying your lawn with a liquid fertilizer where you may see results almost overnight.

It normally takes between 1-6 weeks for the nutrients to work their way down to the root system where they will have a beneficial effect. It also depends on what the soil is like under your lawn as it may take longer if you have a high clay content in your soil but if your lawn has decent soil under it then the nutrients may work into the soil a bit faster.

When you first apply compost as topdressing to your lawn you should avoid walking on it for a while until the nutrients have worked into the soil.

The plus side is that when the nutrients get to the soil under your lawn the benefit will last a long time so you can expect to see a prolonged improvement to your lawn and it should get greener and lusher compared to what you would see if you simply applied fertilizer.

How To Topdress Your Lawn With Compost

by Michelle Whyte | Nov 21, 2022 | Composting

As any gardener knows, compost is key to a healthy lawn. It provides essential nutrients that help grass grow strong and green. But how much compost should you topdress your lawn with? Here are a few things to keep in mind when topdressing your lawn with compost: The amount of compost you use will depend on the condition of your lawn. If your lawn is in good condition, you can topdress with a thin layer of compost . If your lawn is in need of some TLC, you can topdress with a thicker layer of compost . When topdressing your lawn, be sure to evenly distribute the compost. You can use a rake or your hands to spread the compost around. If youre using a thick layer of compost, you may want to wait a few days before mowing your lawn. This will give the compost time to settle into the grass. Now that you know how much compost to topdress your lawn with, its time to get started! Your lawn will thank you for the extra nutrients and will look all the healthier for it.

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Central Texas Soil Types:

There are three main types of inorganic material that all soils are made of. These particles are called clay, silt, and sand. Clay is the smallest particle size, and is sticky the chemicals that form clay bond to things easily. Silt is only slightly larger than clay but doesnt bind to things like clay does. Sand is the largest particle of the three, and drains very well and resists compaction. An ideal mix is called loam, and is a mixture of all three in roughly equal proportions. Combining loam with organic material creates the perfect soil.

Because our soil consists of mostly clay, with very little organic material, it doesnt drain very well and has very few nutrients. The clay binds with water as soon as your irrigation kicks on. The top layer of soil will saturate quickly, preventing water from soaking deep into the soil. If you continue to add water, it will run off the soil rather than soak in. This is one reason we are so prone to flooding in our area.

The clay also binds to nutrients like fertilizers, but it binds in such a way that those nutrients arent available for plants to use . Clay also binds to itself to create a compacted layer of soil that excludes air and is difficult for roots to grow through. On a hot summer day in Austin the soil can often feel harder than concrete.

Note: Timing Compost Applications

7 Organic Lawn Care Tips to Try This Year

Compost is spread in spring or fall, but there are important nuances. In cool-season areas, the spring application is typically lighter and the fall application heavier. In the south, topdress warm-season grasses in early spring. Consult with the local extension service or your soil test provider for recommended depth and dates.

Keep in mind, too, that compost has some fertilizer value and may partially offset fertilizer application rates.

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Too Much Compost On Lawn

High levels of nutrients, such as ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, are found in soils that have been applied to a high rate of compost, particularly manure. In addition to bicarbonates, carbonates, and hydroxides, these soils can contain a high concentration of organic matter.

You cant get too much compost on your lawn unless you add enough. The best thing to do when adding compost is to only add enough to remove any excess. Because the nutrients in compost are absorbed by the soil beneath, it will have many benefits for the root systems. When compost is added to a lawn, it will alter the nutritional balance of the soil. If you overapply compost to your lawn, it will be negatively impacted. If you do not apply enough first time, you will almost certainly have a problem. Every 1,000 square feet of lawn should be filled with 3/4 cubic feet. The best compost for lawns is the compost I make from my compost pile, which I thoroughly inspect before applying it to my lawn. It is not necessary to use the same compost mix for each purpose when top-dressing your lawn.

A Primer On Central Texas Soil

Austin area soils are famous for their poor quality. Ask any avid local gardener, and they will give you a list of their soil woes. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that we have very little soil, the soil we do have is rocky, and its full of clay.

This poor soil is hard on lawns. There is a huge list of things lawns need to be happy, but several of the big items are sunlight, air, water, and nutrients. Soil quality can have a big impact on three of these four items. Plants absorb water, nutrients, and even air through their roots. As a consequence, soil quality can have the biggest impact on the health of your lawn.

A good soil will have a lot of organic matter in it to provide nutrients, will have the capacity to hold water, and will also be able to drain well so the soil can dry out. A soils ability to do those three things is impacted by the type of soil and the soil structure.

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Is Compost The Same As Top Dressing

They can be used to improve and modify your garden, but they can also be used in different ways. Because topsoil is made up of different components than compost, you cannot use compost for the same reason that you would use it to apply lawn dressing.

The Benefits Of Topdressing Your Lawn

In addition to improving drainage and aesthetics, compost or potting soil can be used to add organic matter to your lawn, which can help to stimulate beneficial microorganisms that produce organic fertilizer and minerals that can be used by plants to grow. If you want your lawn to be healthy and lush, topdress it.

Pros And Cons To Compost Alternatives

Compost Top Dress Level Lawn

Topsoil that mimics the existing soil structure smooths out the ground and is good to use, as well.

However, it does not contain a lot of organic material, and many topsoils or farm field loams you buy in bulk will contain weed seeds.

Sand is used mostly on golf courses and particularly on man-made grass and artificial turf. When its combined with dense clay soils, it facilitates drainage.

I dont recommend that you use fine sand over coarse-textured soil unless youre trying to do some light leveling in your yard.

Homeowners often use a mix of the materials discussed above to create a cost-effective blend similar to existing soil. And you dont have to use the same material every time you top dress your yard.

Most times, a mixture of topsoil, sand, and compost works well.

You can purchase materials from your local garden centers, nurseries, and landscape companies if you need topsoil or sand delivered in bulk.

Arrange delivery of these products onto your driveway so that your lawn grass isnt smothered and tire tracks arent left in your yard.

I typically lay out a tarp on my driveway for the bulk materials to be dumped, which makes clean-up a snap.

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How Much Do I Need

Generally speaking, a layer spread to a depth of 3/8 is just right. After applying the top-dressing rake it back and forth so that the existing lawn pokes up through the soil. If the top-dressing is too thick, you risk smothering some of the grass and waiting longer for it to grow back. If its too thin, you wont get as many of the benefits and you may have to do it more often.

Recent Posts

Season And Time For Topdressing A Lawn

Best is to topdress just before a growth spurt. Here are the best seasons for topdressing :

  • beginning of spring
  • middle of spring
  • middle of autumn

Dont topdress lawns in summer or winter. Indeed, slow growth means grass cant grow atop the new layer, resulting in patches being smothered.

Morning dew, and moisture at dusk, make it harder to topdress. Best is before and after lunch or over the afternoon.

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Lawn Topdressing On Social Media

Click to open posts in a new tab. Follow us there, comment, and share!Also nice: create or join a topic on our gardening forum, too.

Nature& Garden:Topdressing on lawn, manual by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own workYellow spot on lawn by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own workTopdressed yellow lawn spot by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own workRake topdress lawn by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work

How Does It Work

Top Dresser Spreader ~ BestDressers 2020

We calculate our estimates and train our crews to spread a quarter-inch of perfect soil over the lawn. We generally spread the compost by hand. We have investigated spreading machines, but have yet to find a solution that works better than a well-trained crew. Many of our competitors spread considerably less to save costs.

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