Top dressing the lawn

Why top dress the lawn

This is an important operation that should be carried out at least once a year on the lawn. Top dressing is the process of applying a fine layer of high quality soil to the surface of the lawn. 

Materials commonly used for this task are loam, sand and peat, depending on the chemical and physical make up of your soil or rootzone. The reasons for dressing lawns include.

  • Create a Level Surface: If you have a lawn with minor undulations and hollows, regular applications will gradually level the lawn up by filling the hollows.

  • Improve the drainage: This task will improve the drainage on a garden lawn especially after aeration has been carried out. E.g. If you have a heavy poor draining soil (clay), by aerating you create channels into the soil profile. Then by following up afterwards by applying a suitable sandy mixture and working it down the holes you will improve the drainage of the lawn. This is because sand drains better than clay due to the larger particle size that encourages quicker water movement.

  • Improve drought resistance: This is similar to improving the drainage on a lawn but you would use a peat and loam based top dressing. Peat and loam have greater water retention properties than sand, therefore they would improve the drought resistance of your lawn.

  • Thatch Breakdown: A good dressing program can help with the decomposition of thatch. Regular applications help dilute the thatch layer and encourages natural breakdown.

  • Encourage a Thicker Lawn: It encourages the grass to produce new shoots resulting in a thicker, tight knit sward, therefore reducing the invasion of weeds and moss.

Materials Used

As we have previously noted top dressing is made from 3 different materials, these materials are:

  • Sand: The sand used should be lime free and should be of medium particle size (not too fine or coarse).

  • Peat: Go for a quality sphagnum or sedge peat.

  • Loam: Choose a loam that does not have a large clay content.

How and when to apply 

Top dressing can be applied any time during the growing season, but the best time is late summer especially after any aeration, scarification or overseeding work has taken place.

The top dressing needs to be applied as evenly as possible. There are mechanical spreaders available for hire but unless you have a large area, a shovel will be fine for applying your top dressing. The application rate should be about 3lbs per sq/yd.

The most effective way to top dress is to tip the material in equal size heaps on your lawn, then spread them evenly over your lawn with a shovel. After it has been applied and has dried, it can be rubbed into the sward and aeration holes, for the best results use a true lute or a drag mat. Alternatively a brush or the back of a rake can be used.


Lawn Top Dressing

J. A Bowers Lawn Top Dressing
Rolawn Lawn Top Dressing