Lawns: Top Dressing.
When gardeners say they are ‘Top Dressing’ a lawn, what they mean is that they are applying material to the top of a lawn in order to fill small holes and cracks which have appeared throughout the season, and over a period of a few years will create an ideal, flat lawn surface. Most people would never do this, and if you have a run of the mill, ‘normal’ lawn, then it’s not necessary, but if you want a first class lawn then it is a practice that you need to adhere to every year.
Why do I need to top dress my lawn?
- Grass growth is far denser and new shoots and runners are stimulated.
- Small hollows are removed so the surface becomes level.
- The soil surface as added to whilst thatch tends to decompose in this layer.
- Resistance to periods of dry weather is improved.
- The capacity for the soil to hold water is improved.
- Drainage is improved in heavy soils.
What material should I use when I Top Dress?
The materials you use will depend largely depend on the type of soil you have beneath your turf. Essentially though, the materials used should be reasonably fine (not lumpy) and dry.
The three ingredients to use are as follows:
- Peat: Buy a fine grade sphagnum moss or sedge grass grade, but if you cannot find either of these use a leaf mould which has been well decomposted. Do not be tempted to use garden compost as weeds can be an issue.
- Loam: Any good garden soil will be fine as long as it is neither sandy or clayey, but if you want the best, you can get it from turf stacked grass side downwards once well rotted and then broken up, or sieved.
- Sand: Use any sand which has very small particle sizes, but avoid sand from the beach as this will bring lime into your garden.
Mix well the above ingredients into a fine mix depending on what kind of soil you have in the ratios shown below.
Ratio of ingredients
Peat : Loam : Sand
1 : 2 : 4
1 : 4 : 2
2 : 4 : 1
When should I top dress my lawn?
The best time to apply your top dressing is between mid to late August to mid September.
How do I top dress my lawn?
Spike the lawn a few days before top dressing will increase the benefits of top dressing, especially in heavy soil, or soil which has been compacted. Spread the mix across the lawn at a rate of approximately Kg per square metre. In order to try and get the dressing evenly covered, use a spade to locate small mounds across the surface of the lawn, then use either the back of a rake or plank on end mounted with a handle (a Lute) to spread the material across the surface. The idea is that the mixture is spread as evenly as possible and the mixture drops to the earth level and is not left on any grass leaves. This can be achieved by a light brushing afterwards.