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How and When to Apply Topsoil to Your Lawn

We care about our lawn as much as other areas within and around our home.  We want to maintain it in its best condition. There is nothing more rewarding than to look over the yard and see the lush green grass around the home. We keep our lawns well maintained as much as possible because it makes the house so much more appealing and pleasing to the eyes.

People also keep their lawns not just for aesthetic purposes but as well as for practical reasons. They like to keep a beautiful yard where they can allow their children and pets to run around, and even host barbecues to entertain family and friends.

Lawn

Whatever the reason for having and maintaining a lawn, everyone who has it wants it to be as well-maintained as possible. However, there are times the grass gets its fair share of action like foot traffic and lively children and pets which could lead to your lawn looking tired.

Sometimes the unattractive look of a lawn could even be the result of mistakes made when it was first laid. Because of this, you may hear people comment that your lawn needs a new application of topsoil or top dressing. Either they have experience and knowledge on lawn care, or they just heard it as a thing people do.

But is a topsoil application the right way to go? How can you tell if your lawn needs top dressing or is the lawn too far gone and the area needs Instant lawn Installed instead?

What is topsoil?

Putting topsoil or top dressing on the lawn is a method of evenly applying a layer of rich organic topsoil mixes on the grass.

Topsoil and shovel in wheelbarrow for instant lawn

When to Top Dress Lawns

There are two main reasons why the lawn needs top dressing. One is for nutrient support, and another is to repair minor unevenness on the lawn.

Applying Topsoil for Nutrients

Even though lawns are hardy and tolerant of varying conditions they still need regular care and maintenance, which includes assuring that they get a constant supply of nutrients. By applying nutrient-rich topsoil to the lawn, you are introducing more nutrients that the grass needs to grow properly.

If you are applying topsoil for nutrients, it can be done any time in the year.

Applying Topsoil to Correct Unevenness

Because lawns should always look their best, some irregularity on its appearance, such as bumpiness or holes, is unwelcome and the application of topsoil on the problem areas can remedy that. 

Choose The Right Season

You cannot do top dressing to correct bumps or holes just at any time. Special consideration is needed to ensure that top dressing is done during the appropriate time, which is before or around the growing season. For most lawns, this is usually in early Spring, in September, although there are times when it can be done even up to November. Just make sure not to do it during the grass’s dormant period.

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.

Preparation:

  • Fertilise the lawn. At least one to two weeks before the application of the topsoil, fertiliser may be applied. Give it time to rest and for the grass and soil to absorb some of the nutrients. Follow the instructions for the lawn fertiliser you have chosen to use.

  • Mow the lawn. Cut the grass to the preferred height one day before top dressing. Do not cut it too much, just enough to remove new growth. You want the soil particles to be able to drop down beneath and in between the blades of the grass.

  • Clear the lawn of foreign objects or materials. Make sure also to remove the cut grass and other debris like sticks and stones. Pick them up or rake them away from the lawn so that they will not hinder the proper and even application of the topsoil. If you plan to dethatch the lawn, do it before applying new topsoil. More on how to dethatch your lawn here.

Applying Topsoil to the Lawn

Equipment:

  • Steel garden rake
  • Plastic rake
  • Soil leveller
  • Wheelbarrow for delivering the soil to the area
  • Shovel (as required)

  • Choose the right kind of topsoil. The soil you will get for your lawn should be rich in organic material, free from weeds, and finely screened to ensure that it will fill in the spaces between the grass. Do not use yellow sand as top dressing because it does not contain enough nutrients that will benefit the grass. If anything, yellow sand may even hinder the growth of the lawn.

  • Choose the right amount of topsoil. The amount of topsoil needed depends on the total area you want to be covered, and how deep you want your soil. For around 1 cm deep top dressing, enough to cover the ground without covering the grass, you will need about one cubic metre of topsoil for every 100 square metres of lawn. If the grass is taller or you want deeper topsoil, add a bit more as needed.

  • Distribute the topsoil in smaller piles. Before spreading out the soil on the lawn, it is better to put the soil in smaller convenient piles one section at a time. Doing this will give you an estimate of how much soil you will need for each area, and it will make the distribution of the topsoil more manageable. You may use a wheelbarrow to deliver the soil from one area to another.

  • Spread out the soil. Using the flat or backside of a steel garden rake, start roughly spreading out the topsoil from each pile.

Using a soil leveller, continue evenly spreading out the soil to cover the area required. Continue pushing it back and forth across the lawn to let the soil drop down the blades of grass. Remember to make sure that you do not bury the grass beneath the topsoil. Make sure that grass is poking through the topsoil. Grass needs sunlight together with water and nutrients to grow.

Finally, using a plastic garden rake, finish top dressing in areas where the leveller did not distribute enough soil, such as the edges or corners.

Special note: If the hole or unevenness is more than 4cm deep, it is better to raise the grass on that area using a shovel and then fill up underneath with the proper amount of topsoil instead of putting the soil on top to fill it.

  • Water the lawn. After ensuring that the topsoil is applied correctly, water the turf using an automatic or manual sprinkler, or a regular garden hose, to help the topsoil settle into the base of the grass.

  • Keep off the grass! Keep off your lawn about a week or so to give it some time to rest from foot traffic or any other kind of traffic. Give it a chance to settle properly for the grass and soil to start absorbing the nutrients from the new topsoil applied.

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