Dress to impress: Should I top dress my lawn?

Dress to impress: Should I top dress my lawn?
Dress to impress: Should I top dress my lawn?
We often get asked about top dressing – what is it, is it necessary? This all depends on the type of lawn you have and want to achieve, its soil make-up and the level of care and attention you’re willing to offer your lawn.

To top dress a lawn is the application of ‘topsoil’, which is loam - a mixture of clay, sand and silt. Adding it to your regular maintenance programme will improve soil quality, level out areas, and improve drainage.

Free draining

High in nutrients

Clay soil

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Sandy soil

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Top dressing

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Some people may consider to top dress their lawn with compost or mulch, but we recommend you reserve these for garden/pot planting. This is because compost and mulch, whilst nutrient-laden, do not hold the same structure as topsoil and are therefore not as efficient as adapting soil make-up, surface levelling and improving drainage.

So, who should apply a top dressing, and who should ignore it?

Who should top dress a lawn

If you have a fine ornamental lawn, top dressing will most likely already be a part of your maintenance routine. If it isn’t, you may see your finer grasses suffer. Sweeping topsoil into the air pockets created through aeration will help to improve your lawn's overall quality and drainage ability. Top dressing can also help prevent compaction and make your lawn less susceptible to disease. In addition, finer grass species will thrive in equally fine soils, so it’s best to keep on top of your lawn maintenance.

When you should consider top dressing a lawn

You should consider top-dressing your lawn if your soil doesn’t drain well.  This means if puddles do not drain away after rainfall, your grass struggles to grow in certain areas, has raised and flat areas, or you find the soil hard to work over. This will help balance the clay and sand particles in your soil, creating a much more favourable foundation for you to work on. And it provides better conditions for your grass to grow. Top dressing can also level out areas of your lawn that may dip to help prevent water from gathering on the surface.

And who doesn't need to top dress their lawn

If you deem your soil to be of good quality, e.g. already a loam-type composition (grass currently grows well there, and it is easy to work), there is less need for a top dressing. Of course, you can always improve upon ‘perfection’ and regularly fertilise to ensure your lawn remains in tip-top condition.