Your Secret to a Healthy, Lush Lawn
The return to spring and summer often lights the desire to be outdoors. When you are outside in the yard, having a lush lawn can really add to your enjoyment of it. A vibrant yard is beautiful to look at as well as pleasing to walk on.
In this discussion, we’ll touch on the importance of topdressing to having a healthy lawn.
What Is Topdressing for Lawns?
Topdressing is a fresh, richly prepared mix that you apply to the surface of your lawn for either seeding it or providing a reinforcing layer right under newly laid sod.
A good mix should closely resemble your existing soil’s composition. The new materials you add will form part of what’s referred to as the root zone, which is the soil where roots grow best, so they need to blend well with the soil that’s already there.
The lawn topdressing is most effective when it is applied in a layer of 1” or less (for dips or top leveling over 1”, topsoil is a better choice).
When you add topdressing for the lawn, you help:
replenish lost or consumed nutrients by adding organic matter to the topsoil
reduce the need for fertilizer as a result of the organic nutrients
improve air circulation for grass and plant roots
enhance soil structure for growth
contribute to greater water retention (the topdressing blocks and slows evaporation)
make the top grass layer softer, thicker and more bouncy
That’s a lot of benefits from a modest amount of material. Beyond smoothing the surface of your lawn, topdressing can reduce build-up of thatch by supporting decomposition.
What Is the Best Topdressing Mix for Lawns?
For optimal results, a lawn topdresser needs an organic material. In some cases that might be compost, peat or manure. In areas such as Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield and Lemont (IL), however, topdressing with good-quality topsoil combined with fine sand is ideal for leveling and for lawn growth.
If you’ve ever wondered how and why grass on golf courses is so rich and green, topdressing with sand is a major reason. Sand is a great asset because it spreads simply and levels a surface easily. It also enhances soil structure and increases root-zone porosity to support deep roots with good infiltration of water and air.
Where black dirt will dry out, a 50/50 sand and topsoil topdressing will keep the soil moist and loose. In addition, while material such as compost or manure will add beneficial microbes and organic matter to the soil, a healthy turf will typically already have its own microbial ecosystem as it produces its own organic matter as thatch.
More on Topdressing and Golf
Topdressing is common on golf courses, where you may have seen or even used it yourself. The mix on golf courses is usually a combination of soil, sand, pre-germinated grass seed, a drying agent (e.g. calcined clay) and green dye. The sand is usually taken from the golf course’s bunkers.
The reason topdressing is so popular on golf courses – especially on fairways and man-made greens – is that damage such as divots and spike marks can be fixed and smoothed out quickly. This allows for constant ball speed while also helping to restore the turf.
In addition, organic material such as roots, shoots and lateral stems are produced by growing grass. If topdressing with sand is not applied regularly, too much of this material will result in soft, spongy putting surfaces that retain excess water. Topdressing with sand is applied every 7 to 28 days on most golf courses.
The practice of applying topdressing to a course has been observed since golf was first invented in Scotland. It also continues to gain popularity with homeowners seeking organic lawn-care strategies.
How to Topdress a Lawn
For many local yards such as those in Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield and Lemont, a lawn topdressing can be applied with a pail or shovel and a rake. You might also use a wheelbarrow to move poured or bagged topdressing mix.
You’ll want to add your topdressing on a dry day, so if it’s rained recently, wait a few days before you get started. The lawn should be mowed short as well as be dethatched if the thatch is deeper than your nail when you insert your finger. Remember too that the topdressing should not be any deeper than 1” over the existing grass.
You can approach the application in three passes. In the first, lump the fresh mix around the yard so that it appears dotted with molehills every few feet. On the next pass, spread the lumps evenly and break any clumps into small bits.
On the last pass, rake or brush the grass so the mix falls through the grass and the blades peek through an even depth.
You can then lightly water the lawn to help the topdressing trickle even further to ground level. Wait at least three or four days before mowing the lawn again.
Be careful not to place too much topdressing at the risk of killing the grass. It’s better to topdress twice with half the amount than once with a larger quantity. Also don’t topdress the lawn more than once every three weeks.
As we touched on earlier, remember that it’s important for the topdressing to be compatible with the existing soil’s composition.
If you’re planning on over-seeding your lawn, do it right after you’ve spread your topdressing. Be sure to invest in a quality weed-free, non-coated seed (numerous blends are available). Landscape experts recommend that you use a bluegrass/ryegrass blend. The ryegrass germinates in 5 to 7 days, whereas bluegrass takes 28 days to germinate. (It is difficult for most homeowners to maintain adequate watering for 28 days unless they have a sprinkler system.) It also helps to apply a starter fertilizer after seeding and of course to water regularly to keep your soil/seed moist.
Do not apply conventional crabgrass control products before or after reseeding, as they will prevent your new seed from germinating. As for broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions and clover, you need to wait until the grass has germinated and been mowed three times before applying that type of product.
When Should I Topdress My Lawn?
The best time to topdress the lawn is right before an anticipated growth spurt, which will usually take place in early or middle spring, the end of summer or the middle of autumn. Avoid applying topdressing in summer and winter.
Your Local Topdressing Supplier: Contact Us Today
Tim Wallace Landscape Supply provides you with the knowledge and materials for a rich, healthy, colorful lawn and garden. We’re always interested in learning about your project and answering any questions you might have. To find out more about our 50/50 topsoil and sand topdressing mix for communities such as Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield and Lemont (IL), just give us a call at (630) 759-1080!