You have probably heard a lot about how important it is to improve your soil quality if you want to improve your lawn. When we continually spray or seed our lawns trying to get grass to grow, if we are not taking care of the soil underneath, all of our efforts will be in vain. One way to increase the quality of your lawn is to improve the lawn topsoil. This is also referred to as topdressing and is a process for working organic matter down into the soil to increase nutrients by adding a thin layer of topsoil to your lawn.
What Problems Does Topsoil Address?
Adding top soil to your lawn not only helps to add nutrients into your soil but can help to alleviate many other lawn issues. One of the main benefits to adding topsoil is that it can help even out your yard. There are many reasons why your yard may have low spots including soil settling after a project that required digging, water runoff, backyard critters that create tunnels, and freezing/thawing.
Topdressing the soil also improves water drainage, reduces your need for fertilizers, and helps with drought resistance. Topdressing the soil is an organic method of improving your soil quality and should be done in spring or fall so that your grass can grow through it and become thick for at least four weeks. This creates a healthy lawn before severe hot or cold temperatures set in which shock the grass and cause a lawn to go dormant is not maintained.
Process of Topdressing the Lawn
The first step to improve lawn topsoil is to aerate the lawn. Aeration is a process of punching three in deep holes in the ground that break up compacted soil and improve air circulation and water drainage. Aerating the soil also allows earth worms and other organisms to move through the dirt to process the soil.
The next step to topdressing the lawn is to prepare the top soil. Many people use sharp sand that is made for topdressing, loamy soil that does not have much clay and compost or peat. Compost can cause weeds to grow in your yard so many homeowners prefer to purchase peat from lawn and garden centers to use. If you have average soil you can use an even mix of these three ingredients however if you have soil that is compacted with clay, omit the loamy soil, and just use sand and compost/peat.
The top soil dressing should be fine and crumbly when you are done mixing it. If you have the ability to sift the mix though mesh you should do so. This also removes any chunks of materials that have gotten into your compost and not broken down. If you do not want to make your own topsoil dressing, you can purchase premade bags at nearly any lawn and garden center or landscape supply company.
After your topdressing is prepare you can apply it to the lawn. This is an effortless process that you should complete a few square feet at a time. Spread out the topsoil dressing over your yard and use a garden rake to disperse the soil so that it is about one inch thick. Use the rake to work the topsoil down into the top layer of dirt and at the base of the grass. If you aerated your lawn first, your top soil will fall into the small holes that were left behind to fill them.
Low spots in your yard that need more than an inch or two of topsoil can be fixed by first removing the existing sod so that there is not underground decay happening that will damage new grasses that will grow. You can put the old sod on top of the topsoil or reseed the lawn in those areas to grow new grass.
The last step to topdressing your lawn is to water your lawn. The topdressing will need to settle and the best way to do this is by watering right after or topdressing just before the rain comes. The topsoil mix will settle over a few days as the water is absorbed. After this you can use the garden rake to even out any bumps or fill in more topsoil where there are still low spots.
If you have bare spots in your yard you should seed right after watering. Your existing grass will continue to grow out of the topsoil as long as you did not cover the grass completely. Topdressing your yard annually is a long-term solution to having a quality lawn each year. This method also prevents thatching, fungal disease and improves lawn drainage.