Determine How Much Compost You Need
When topdressing a lawn with compost, you want to use enough compost to be effective but not so much that the compost smothers the grass. Aim to use between a quarter inch and a half inch layer of compost. For the maximum depth, that is one cubic foot of compost for every 25 square feet of lawn.
One cubic foot is a popular size for bagged compost, but bags can be smaller or larger. But no matter the bag size, when you find you need more than 10 bags of compost for a project, it generally makes more sense to buy bulk compost. Bulk compost is sold by the cubic yard, and there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard.
How To Detect A Nitrogen Deficit
You may be asking why you need to test the soil since nitrogen is present in 78 percent of the air we breathe.
In order for plants to have access to nitrogen, it must first be transformed into nitrates in the soil through nitrogen fixation. So, how can you know whether your plants are deficient in nitrogen?
There are two approaches to detect nitrogen deficiency:
Lets take a quick look at both approaches.
Use A Rolling Peat Moss Spreader To Spread The Compost
These cool spreaders have a rotating barrel-like structure with metal mesh openings. They are traditionally used to spread peat moss , but they also work great for distributing compost. Simply fill the rolling barrel with compost and walk up and down your lawn while pulling or pushing the barrel. The compost drops out of the mesh openings and onto your lawn. They cost a couple hundred dollars but are well worth the investment if you have a medium-size lawn. They work best with compost that is dry and screened.
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When Is It Time To Top Dress Your Lawn
If you want a healthy lawn this summer, maintaining a healthy layer of topsoil is one of the first and most important steps you’ll need to tackle. Why? Well, nutrient-rich topsoil improves drainage, provides nutrients to the soil, and promotes moisture retention. Lawn irrigation in Ottawa is vital to maintaining a green lawn, and Nutri-Lawns professional lawn irrigation services can support the watering schedule best suited to your turf and soil type.
What is Topsoil/Top Dressing?
How To Apply Lime To Your Lawn & Soil
The most common form of lime used for grass is Dolomitic lime. You can contact a professional lawn care specialist to take care of liming your lawn or can do it on your own if you have experience. Lime for lawncare comes in both pellet and powder form. Both are equally effective in stabilizing the pH of the soil. Lime is applied to grass via a tiller or a drop spreader. This ensures that the application is even and that no one area gets too much lime. The more finely ground the lime, the quicker it will react in your soil.
We recommend hiring professionals to take care of liming your lawn. The process can be messy, and lime powder can be harmful if inhaled. Wearing a commercial-grade breathing mask will help limit exposure, but it is important to clean the surrounding surfaces once it has been applied to the lawn. Lime powder will often stick to paves surfaces and can erode plastics if not properly cleaned. Most lawn care companies will use lime pellets to help prevent many of the cleanup and breathing complications that come with the lime application. Another advantage of using lime pellets is that they are formulated for timed release. This will ensure proper coverage for your entire yard.
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Finding The Right Topsoil For Your Lawn
The right topsoil includes the right composition of materials that will render a garden or lawn with better drainage. Today in the landscape industry, there are many topsoil brands, and finding the right one that will compliment your lawn is not that easy. And employing the wrong topsoil can clog your lawns soil while disrupting the landscapes drainage.
To find the right topsoil brand, you must be aware of the right combination, sand or clay, since the lack of airflow between these materials can either make or break your soil. Choosing a moist sand variation ideal for topsoil is a better option than just sand that renders fewer nutrients. Also, if you wish to avoid toxic pesticides or herbicides in their lawns, Eden suggests getting the topsoil from an organic farm or business.
Red Cabbage Soil Ph Test
Who wouldve thought you can use red cabbage to test the pH of your soil, but you can, and adding to this it provides near-accurate results. However, you cant use white cabbage to test soil pH.
Red cabbage contains anthocyanin, a chemical compound that:
- turns yellowish green when the pH of the soil is pH > 7.0
- reddish pink when the pH of your soil is acidic
Apart from testing the pH level of your soil, you can also use red cabbage to test the water hardiness in your home.
To perform a red cabbage soil pH test:
If the color of the water turns reddish-pink, your soil is acidic, but your soil is alkaline if the color turns blue/yellow-green.
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How Do You Add Organic Matter To Your Lawn
The key to adding organic matter to your lawn is topdressing with an organic material that is lightweight with small particles so that the grass can still easily grow through the organic matter.
The easiest way to add organic matter is by leaving grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. The grass clippings will break down into nitrogen-rich nutrients.
You can also run your lawnmower over fallen leaves, cutting them up into small pieces, in the autumn.
If leaving clippings and leaves on your lawn doesnt appeal, you could also make or buy compost. Sift it before applying to your lawn to remove any hard clumps, twigs or other pieces of wood and apply a 1/4 inch to your lawn. You can do this by:
- Scattering compost by hand by grabbing handfuls of compost and sprinkling it over the lawn.
- Dump piles of compost throughout your yard and rake it to the appropriate thickness.
- Use a fertilizer spreader set at a low setting and take multiple passes in each direction to ensure even distribution.
Compost can be either made by decaying plant material or from livestock manure , or a combination of both. Either one should be finished, meaning its a crumbly, dark brown that smells like loamy earth. Although chicken and rabbit manure can be applied as-is, unfinished cow or horse manure may burn your lawn.
If you want to go a step further, get a soil test for your lawn to find out if the soil has specific deficiencies and topdress with specific amendments.
The Benefits Of Top Dressing Lawn
A top dressing of compost over the lawn pays you back in many ways.
- As the compost works its way down into the soil, it helps aerate compacted soils. This occurs when soil organisms, both big and small, work to digest the compost and they open up microscopic pore spaces within the soil. With regular applications of compost, youll eliminate the need to ever aerate your lawn again.
- The microbes present in compost digest thatch, which can sometimes build up to form a thick layer that restricts air and water movement into and out of the soil. A thick layer of thatch can cause rainwater to collect on the soil surface, instead of draining away. When this happens, walking on the lawn feels like walking on a sponge every time it rains.
- A top dressing just ¼ of an inch thick, in combination with allowing your lawn clippings to fall to the ground when mowing, provides almost all of the nutrients your lawn needs to fuel an entire seasons worth of growth. And, if you have clover in your lawn, all the better. Clover leaves are rich in nitrogen, basically eliminating the need for additional synthetic fertilizers when the clippings are left in place.
- The nutrients in compost are released slowly, over a long period of time and with very little nutrient leaching. This means little to no nutrient runoff, which can pollute waterways and ground water.
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How To Apply Lime
Lime should only be applied to a dry lawn, and never to a lawn that is dormant, wilted, or stressed. Limestone is most effective at changing the soil pH when it is mixed in with the top 5 inches of soil, which means its easier to adjust your soils pH before planting grass seed or laying sod than it is to add it to an established lawn. Once youve applied lime to correct your soils pH, chances are you will not have to re-lime for several years.
Before adding lime to an established lawn, aerate the lawn with a core aerator to open up space for the lime to move into the soil. Next, using a drop or rotary spreader , apply the limestone to your lawn. Apply half while walking over your lawn in one direction, then apply the other half in a direction that is perpendicular to your first. This will ensure that every part of your lawn is covered with lime.
Top Dressing Lawn By Hand
For this method, youre spreading the compost by hand. Youll need a wheelbarrow, a shovel or garden fork , and possibly a leaf rake. Use the shovel or garden fork to scoop the compost out of the wheelbarrow, then fling it out across the lawn, doing your best to spread it fairly evenly. You can then spread the compost out more using a leaf rake, if its in chunks or if you didnt fling it very evenly . Frankly, its kind of fun to whip shovels full of compost across your yard. Kids love it. It doesnt have to be perfectly spread or 100% accurate but do try to distribute it as evenly as possible to avoid extra green spots where more compost fell or dead spots where too much compost smothered the grass.
How To Apply Topsoil On The Lawn
The definition of top dressing is simply applying a layer of topsoil on the grass but it is not as simple as it seems. The ordinary do-it-yourselfer could do it, but it is still better to have it done professionally, or at least consult with the professional whenever possible.
For those who want to try it our for themselves, here is a guide on how to apply topsoil to the lawn.
How Can I Quickly Dig Up My Lawn
If you want to keep your lawn chemical-free, youre in a hurry, and youre not afraid to break a sweat. You can dig up your lawn manually with a flat shovel or mechanically using a motorized sod cutter or rototiller. A shovel is the way to go if you have a small lawn, strong arm muscles, and a free afternoon. A shovel.
Youll also need a lawn mower, which you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes for about $20. A lawn-mowing machine is also a good idea, but its a bit more expensive than the shovel, so you may have to shop around for the best deal.
You may also want a bucket of water to mow the lawn with, as well as a hose to spray the mowed area with after youve finished mowing the rest of the yard.
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About Top Dressing With Sand
According to the Institute of Food and Agriculture at the University of Florida, top dressing home lawns with sand is more harmful than helpful. Experts agree that sand should only be used on a lawn to level low areas, cover exposed tree roots, and to fix heavy thatch build up. Even in those cases, it is recommended that you top dress with a rich, fine compost instead of sand.
Sand particles cannot retain any nutrients, so applying a layer of sand year after year to lawns actually causes lawns to lose their fertility. Golf courses are built on sandy soil and specialized turf grasses that can thrive in sandy conditions used on the greens. The grass seed or sod that most people have in their lawn is not the same as the grass on golf courses.
Golf courses also generally receive more maintenance than the common lawn, such as fertilizing and watering, which ultimately helps correct deficiencies created by the addition of sand.
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Should I Roll My Lawn After Tilling
It is a great idea to roll the area after tilling to avoid low spots. Remember, your lawn is an extension of your living area, so a smooth lawn helps you avoid injuries from uneven surfaces. Lawn rollers can also be used on areas that are lumpy with molehills or anthills. Rake first to level the areas, then roll.
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Should you remove grass before tilling?
Should I remove grass before tilling? Yes, you should remove the grass before tilling so that you get a smoother run for the blades. Plus, the older grass wont regrow if you remove all the grass before you till the ground.
What do you do after tilling soil? Once youve completed an initial tilling of the area, it can be beneficial to water the area and let the newly worked soil set for a day or two before making a final, deep tilling pass. This ensures a well aerated bed for planting.
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Other Natural Nutrients To Feed Your Lawn
One of the best nutrient sources for the grass in your lawn is the grass itself. Recycling grass clippings can provide 25% of your lawns nutrient needs over the course of a year. Its obvious when you think about it: Grass clippings contain the exact ratio of nutrients that grass requires. Plus, the clippings help the lawn retain moisture while shading out weed seeds, which keeps those seeds from germinating.
Recycling grass clippings is actually less labor-intensive than the alternative. While bagging and disposing of or composting grass clippings takes extra work, using a mulching mower means you dont have to carry around and empty heavy bags of clippings. The clippings remain in place, exactly where they can be put to work feeding the lawn.
You may already be mulching your grass into the lawn, but did you know that you can also use a mulching mower on leaves? When leaves drop on the lawn in autumn, even an average mulching mower can chop them up to a size at which they will decompose quickly, feeding the lawn as they do. A thick layer of leaves will take quite a few passes with the lawnmower before the leaves are reduced to a size that disappears into the lawn, but if you mow frequently, falling leaves will be easier to manage. Youll also save yourself a lot of work on raking!
When you incorporate grass clippings into your compost heap, they will transform into a rich source of nutrients for your garden.
Topdressing A Home Lawn
Factsheet | HGIC 1227 | Sep 30, 2020 |
With the expansion of residential landscapes in the US, the number of homeowners interested in learning how to start and maintain a healthy lawn has increased. Bare soil is usually easier to work with when improving the soil for lawn preparation. Improving the soil in an established lawn can be a little more difficult, but it is possible.
South Carolina soils range from heavy clays in the Upstate to sandy soils from the Midlands to the Lowcountry. Additionally, many South Carolina soils have been poorly managed and damaged through construction activities or agricultural overuse. Regardless of the soil type, most of the soils in SC are highly weathered, eroded, and contain little organic matter. Common soil quality issues include:
- Very low soil pH, except along the coast
- Soil compaction and thus poor soil aeration
- Poor soil structure
- Low cation exchange capacity or ability to hold onto nutrients
- Low nutrient availability
Topdressing materials may include topsoil, composted organic matter, or sand, depending on why the topdressing is needed. Historically, sports turf managers have used topdressing to level and smooth playing surfaces. However, landscapers and homeowners now employ topdressing as a management tool to promote healthy turfgrass.
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