Top dressing your yard is probably not something the average home owner knows to do to create a healthy and beautiful lawn, but it’s actually very important. I discovered the importance after part of my lawn started dying out. A professional came to investigate the problem and explained the importance of top dressing your yard.
Top dressing actually has several primary benefits. First, the mixture you add can help your soil hold in more moisture which means you’ll need to do less watering and your grass will make better use of the available water. Second, the mixture can also improve the drainage of your yard which means more of the water will get down into the roots where you want it to be and less will end up running off into sewers. Third, the mixture will also make the grass grow more thickly so you’ll have fewer problems with weeds.
Usually, when you are top dressing your lawn you’ll need a mixture that combines sand, loam, and peat. From my experience, the best combination is a 3 to 3 to 1 ratio, respectively. Don’t overdo it on the sand, however, or you could end up damaging your soil instead of helping it.
Top dressing your lawn should be done once every year or two. If you already have high quality soil, then you may be able to do it every couple of years. A week or so before applying the top dressing, you should rent a home lawn aerator and use it on your lawn.
If you’re not familiar with aeration, it’s basically a process designed to remove some of the thatch that builds up on the top layer of the soil and blocks nutrients from getting into the grass where you want it to be. Additionally, aeration can help reduce soil compaction which will make it easier for the top dressing to work its way down through the ground so it can help make your grass look thick and healthy.
Several varieties of home lawn aerators are available. Some remove plugs of dirt from the soil while others push holes into the soil. You can also buy aeration boots which have spikes on the soles to dig holes into the soil as you walk through your yard.
After you finish the aeration, you’ll want to spread the top dressing along the soil. Remember to keep the coat thin. Use just enough to fill in the holes. Too much can be damaging to your grass. However, you can use a little extra in places where the ground may be a bit uneven if you want to create the appearance of a level lawn.
The final question about top dressing your lawn is when to do it. Because you need to aerate your lawn first, you should either choose spring or autumn. My preference is autumn, but either season is a good choice. Summer is not usually an option because the ground will be so hard the aeration won’t be able to go deep enough to be of much use.