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The Lawn Guide
Lawn Top Dressing
Lawn Top Dressing

Reasons For Top Dressing Lawns

Top dressing lawns in lawn care should only ever be applied for two reasons, to level small indentations in the lawn and to add special nutrient mixes to the lawn.


Levelling Lawn Indentations:


  • Using either existing soil from the property or clean sand, small indentations of the lawn are filled in, compacted, watered, and levelled off to the same height as the surrounding lawn using a straight edge.
  • Be sure to properly water the sand or soil during application to wash it into and between all the small spaces in the lawn.
  • After top dressing, new shoots and runners will emerge from the lawn area which was top dressed, raising the height of the affected area to the same as the surrounding lawn.

Nutrient Mixes


  • Some lawn fertiliser companies have recently developed and released special soil mixes that are top dressed on the lawn. The purpose of these mixes is to supply quality organic material into the lawn in place of fertiliser. These rich soil mixes can be a great choice in many lawn care regimens.
  • Do not use these soil mixes to level indentations, or layer it on top of the lawn.
  • The lawn nutrient mix is applied lightly and raked into the lawn, and then watered, it’s that simple. For the best results with the product of choice, make sure to follow manufacturers instructions.


How To Level Large Lawn Indentations

Where the indentations are large or deeper than about 5 cm, the lawn may die of suffocation from the top dressing process and will not send out new shoots and runners to repair the area.

This creates two possible problems.

The first is that a dead layer of lawn thatch and roots will be left behind which can become an area of water logging, or become obtrusive and prevent the recovered lawn area from developing and maintaining a healthy root system, resulting in poor lawn health for many years to come. Eventually the area may need to be repaired again.

It will also be left to the surrounding lawn to spread into, and re-cover the area. This may take a very long time, with an unsightly lawn, and risking ongoing damage from wear, and delaying or preventing any recovery of the affected lawn.

The proper solution is to Raise The Lawn. Which simply means to dig out the affected lawn and put down clean sand in the indentation, and then re-lay the lawn on top.

By removing the lawn in strips like roll on turf is done, the job becomes much easier and cleaner, and can be done easily with a spade.

After reinstalling the turf strips, lightly top dress the lawn to finish the evening out process and the job will be finished.


Lawn Recovery Times

Recovery times depend on the time of year when the lawn repair is done and how well the lawn is being looked after in that time. A few weeks to a couple of months should complete most repairs.


When To Resume Lawn Mowing

After repairs, mowing of the area should not be resumed until the lawn has set down adequate roots for recovery. The lawn should no longer be able to be lifted when pulled upwards by hand.


When Is The Best Time Of Year To Top Dress Lawns

Any time in the active growing season is fine for top dressing indentations, from the beginning of Spring through to a month or two before Winter. Light top dressing with soil mixes can be undertaken at any time of the year.


Can The Homeowner Do It Themselves

Yes. It’s really a simple process.


Lawn Care Myth

The old practice of top dressing lawns with sand in the belief that it was a proper lawn care regimen was wrong. It has no benefits to lawns whatsoever. The result of this continuing practice will only raise the lawn higher and create layers of sand and thatch that will only ever have a detrimental impact on lawn health.





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Lawn Fact:
A waxy coating on the grains of soil is responsible for the water repelling effect that is often seen in soils, resulting in poor lawn or plant health. In a similar manner to detergents, Wetting Agents will break down this waxy coating, allowing for easier water absorption and retention. Wetting Agents should be included as a normal part of the maintenance routine of every lawn and applied at least twice a year.
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