We are only a few weeks away from the start of spring, and we are getting excited. One thing that we definitely recommend to all lawn owners is to give your lawn a top dress – but you need to do it correctly.

Top dressing is the process of spreading a specifically made soil mixture over your lawn, usually up to a depth of 1cm, if you go to deep you risk killing the lawn in certain spots. This layer of mixture has a variety of uses, from correcting  low spots and evening out the lawn, to adding nutrients that may otherwise be missing from the soil.

Top dressing your lawn can help your lawn in a few different respects. On top of leveling and enriching your soil, it also helps prevent the build-up of thatch, improves both the drainage and nutrient retention of your soil, and increases its resistance to pests and diseases.

What is the best way to top dress?

So lets break it down and discuss two main reasons to top dress, first to simply add nutrients to your existing soil, so there’s no real need to even out any high or low points in the lawn, this top dressing couldn’t be easier!

First mow your lawn back to as a low a height but it’s important to remember not to take more than 1/3 of it’s length off in any single mow – even if you need to space out your mows over a few days, do it or else you risk causing stress to your lawn.

Ensure your mower has a catcher – before you top dress you really don’t want to have any grass clippings on your lawn. This also means you need to rake up any excess organic matter after mowing.

Once your lawn is mown and the grass clippings are removed spread the top dressing mix evenly over the lawn. If your using a wheel barrow it’s easiest to dump about a 1/4 of the barrow into an area at any one time, if you dump the full barrow it just becomes harder to level out.

We’ve seen many homemade tools over the years used to level out top dressing, but the most important thing to remember is that once you’ve laid the top dressing, spread it until it is as evenly dispersed as possible. You want it no deeper than 1cm, and need to ensure that, at the very least, the tips of the grass blades are showing. Water in the top dressing and you’re done!

If you’re top dressing in order to level out your lawn

It’s the same general process as the above, with the addition of a couple of steps:

After you mow the lawn, fill in any dips as best you can with either existing soil from your property, or a clean sand. Use a straight edge to help you get the turf as level as possible. Once it’s reasonably level, water in the sand or soil to allow it to properly fall into the lawn’s gaps.

Once it dries out a bit, apply the top dressing as above. If the lawn indentations are dramatic – i.e. more than 5cm deep – you may find that the existing lawn will die off if you fill in the hole with soil or sand. In this case, it’s best to dig up that entire patch of soil, fill in the hole, and replace the turf with a few new rolls.

When Is the Best Time to Do It?

The best time of year to top dress lawn is in their peak growing season. We would generally recommend that you look to top dress in the first few weeks of spring.  You’ll know because you’re starting to mow more often. Top dressing at this time of the year will allow the lawn to quickly grow through the new layer, re-establishing itself sooner rather than later.