Regenerative top dressing is an eco-friendly way to keep your lawn healthy and looking great year round.
It’s an especially good choice if you haven’t fertilized your lawn in the past few years or if you have an unhealthy lawn that has become sparse.
Beyond livening up the appearance of your grass, the systematic use of top dressing can strengthen plant root systems, help your lawn regain its vitality and recover from the effects of soil erosion.
After top dressing, level out bumpy areas, water your lawn to promote growth and mow the lawn again to help prevent overgrowth.
Learn more about effective steps to take after top dressing by reading on.
What does top dressing your lawn do?
Top dressing is a process where you spread fertilizer and a layer of sand with soil on your lawn.
It provides a lot of benefits to your lawn, most importantly the strength of your roots, as well as modified soil structure and drainage.
It also provides nutrients to the grass that it so desires which in return promotes new growth!
This changes the landscape of your lawn, adding nitrogen, potassium and other nutrients, allowing grasses to grow better and healthier than on an unmaintained lawn.
Top dressing also helps break up any hardpan from aging, changing the consistency of soil so plants have more root space in the soil.
The soil’s cation exchange capacity is also enhanced, which in return will strengthen the cell walls of the grass.
So by top dressing you are not just improving your lawn’s roots, but also its appearance.
In addition, it applies a thin layer of organic matter to improve topsoil quality and the soil solution pH.
It promotes more efficient use of water and fertilizer, provides protection against weed growth and fungus, and helps deter lawn diseases.
Find Out: Does Fertilizer Go Bad if Wet?
What to do after top dressing lawn
When you top dress your lawn, it will be brown for a few days until the fertilizer has enough time to break down into your garden soil.
This can sometimes cause a bit of frustration when you have a backyard full of plants!
If that’s the case, there are some quick ways around this problem if you don’t want to wait too long for the grass to recover:
- Identify low areas in your lawn that require additional top dressing or even out using a lawn leveling rake (Related: Will a Lawn Level Itself? DIY Yard Grading Tips)
- Water the lawn for 2 – 3 consecutive days to increase moisture and to help the sand-soil mix settle
- Mow the lawn after the grass has regained some of its color and height to prevent overgrowth, approximately 2 to 3 weeks if it’s the first time you’re top dressing or 3 to 4 days if you’ve top dressed your lawn before.
How long does top dressing take to work? How long does it take for grass to grow through top dressing?
In order to properly top dress a lawn using the incorporated method, it typically takes at least 3 weeks for top dressing application to work.
For grass to grow through top dressing, it takes this long to take root, for root tips to find the fertilizer and for them to take up the nutrients.
Although top dressings have a high uptake rate, this rate is not instantaneous. Amending the soil of your lawn is a slow process, especially in a hot summer.
After 3 weeks, you can top dress again, and the grass will still not have fully absorbed anything yet.
So, think of top dressing as a starter cap to your fertilizer regime. It’s the first step in a long process.
At the same time, level out holes in your top dressed area.
Give the grass a chance to grow, then you can adjust your top dressing rate accordingly.
Does top dressing level a lawn?
Most of the time this is a yes, but there are a few exceptions.
If you top dress your yard with a product that has sand in it, then the product will remain at the surface and not level out with the ground.
This is because of how sand particles are slightly bigger than soil particles and will stay on top of any other substances.
Leveling using a lawn lute, a rake and a broom is the best way to accomplish this.
The top material will be able to settle further and speed up grass recovery.
Routine topdressing breaks down thatch and opens up the soil profile, meaning bumps and hills disappear beneath the grass canopy.
Lawns are affected by how the soil is layered because poorly drained lawn without a uniform grade may become muddy or messy, and will be more susceptible to fungal diseases.
Decreasing thatch buildup helps to improve root growth, aeration and water penetration.
When can I fertilize after top dressing?
During topdress application, fertilizer is broadcast all around the surface.
A spin-type spreader is generally used.
The best time to fertilize your lawn is 4 weeks after topdressing application, preferably in Spring.
An 8000 sq ft lawn requires about 8 lbs of fertilizer.
Too much top dressing may kill your lawn as well as weaken it for future expansion.
Maintain a low nitrogen level of 0.5 lb per 1000 sq ft.
The light dose of fertilizer is sufficient for the next 4 weeks or so.
If you are an avid gardener, plan to fertilize again at this time so your grass will have enough strength to continue growing.
An established lawn requires little fertilizing except rain and temperature requirements.
Under normal weather conditions, it does not need that much fertilizer when the grass is dormant.
Excessive fertilization can burn and eventually kill your lawn.