Top Dressing A Lawn With Compost And Why You Should

topdressing your lawn with compost

If you are looking for a way to improve the health of your lawn or want to level it out then top dressing your lawn with compost is a very good idea.

When I add compost as a top dressing for my lawn I use a thin layer that is maybe only 1-2 cm deep and I do this every 2-3 years and I feel this is enough to see a benefit to the health of my lush green lawn.

How often you choose to add compost as a top dressing to your lawn really depends a lot on your lawn and what the soil is like under it as some soil is better than others.

I feel it is definitely beneficial to carry out this process as part of a regular lawn care routine.

Some people do their topdressing with a topsoil mix but if you use compost it will be even more packed full of healthy nutrients that will filter down into your lawn and make it even more lush and green.

Using compost as a topdressing for your lawn has many benefits that will drastically improve the health of your lawn. The main benefit is your lawn will become more green and lush for a long period of time compared to the small boost you would see when you feed it fertilizer.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Compost To Topdress A Lawn

If you are topdressing your lawn then it does take quite a bit of effort so you really do want to see the maximum benefits to your lawn for the effort you put into it, that is if you are putting the work in yourself.

Some of the benefits of using compost to topdress your lawn include:

  • It will add lots of healthy nutrients back into the soil beneath your lawn.
  • It will level your lawn, some lawns stay level but some deteriorate and adding compost as topsoil is the solution.
  • Promotes healthy new growth which will result in a healthier and thicker lawn.
  • Your lawn will become more tolerant of periods of drought which is always a good thing.
  • It will make your lawn more suitable for grass growth which will reduce the amount of moss that grows in your lawn.
  • When you add compost to your lawn you can expect it to turn green and stay green for a long time.
  • It will promote the growth of fresh grass in any bare patches even if you don’t add new grass seed.
  • Your lawn will become more tolerant of heavy use which is a good thing if you have children who play on your lawn.

I’m sure there are even more benefits than what I have listed but adding compost to your lawn is one of the best things you can do as it will provide so many benefits.

Check out my full article on how to level a lawn with topsoil.

What Type Of Compost Is Best For Top Dressing A Lawn

So you want to topdress your lawn with compost and think it is simply a case of just selecting any old compost and spreading it on your lawn?

It isn’t quite as simple as that. The first thing you have to be aware of is the fact that if you use a compost that is not good quality it may actually have a detrimental effect on your lawn as it may have fungus or weeds within it and if you add that to your lawn it could be a disaster.

There are different reasons for choosing different mixtures of compost.

Most golf courses are top dressed with a mix that has high sand content however if you are topdressing your lawn you should use a compost that has high organic content.

This is because the organic content in compost has lots of nutrients and microorganisms that are beneficial to your lawn so the more of it you can introduce back into your soil the more beneficial it will be.

If you have made your own compost then you know what is in it but if you are purchasing some you should go for a high-quality mix that has undergone compost specific testing to check the quality of the product.

How Much Compost Will You Need For Topdressing Your Lawn

When you are topdressing your lawn you should only use a thin layer spread evenly over your lawn.

If you spread compost too thickly over your lawn it will block the sunlight and air your grass needs to grow healthy and you may well destroy your lawn.

When I topdress my lawn with compost I try to spread it as thinly as possible so that it is only maybe ¼ inch thick across my lawn, the maximum depth of compost as topdressing I would recommend would be ½ inch deep.

If you are planning on topdressing your lawn with compost there are many online calculators you can use to work out how much you will have to buy to cover the area you require.

The calculator over at Mcgill compost seems to be pretty good. It says if I have a lawn that is 100 feet long and 100 feet wide and I want the compost to be 0.25 (quarter) of an inch deep then I would need to buy 7.7 cubic yards of compost

How Soon Will I See The Benefits Of Topdressing With Compost

When you add compost as topdressing to your lawn it is not a quick fix so don’t expect to see the benefits overnight.

Topdressing your lawn with compost is all about getting nutrients back into the soil that is in the root system of your lawn.

It’s not like spraying your lawn with a liquid fertilizer where you may see results almost overnight.

It normally takes between 1-6 weeks for the nutrients to work their way down to the root system where they will have a beneficial effect. It also depends on what the soil is like under your lawn as it may take longer if you have a high clay content in your soil but if your lawn has decent soil under it then the nutrients may work into the soil a bit faster.

When you first apply compost as topdressing to your lawn you should avoid walking on it for a while until the nutrients have worked into the soil.

The plus side is that when the nutrients get to the soil under your lawn the benefit will last a long time so you can expect to see a prolonged improvement to your lawn and it should get greener and lusher compared to what you would see if you simply applied fertilizer.

Check out my article on tips for leveling an already laid lawn.

Will Compost Affect The pH Level Of My Lawn

When you add compost or any sort of organic material to your lawn then it can alter the pH of the soil but I wouldn’t worry about it too much as compost is normally close to a neutral pH level and lawn grass normally prefers a neutral pH level around about a pH of 5.5-7.

If you are concerned about the fact you may alter the pH level of your soil you could always check the pH level of your soil and also the pH level of the compost you are planning to use before you add it.

As long as your soil and compost are around the neutral pH level of 5.5-7 I would not worry about it.

Different types of grasses do prefer different pH levels bents and fescues grass does prefer the pH to be closer to the low end of the scale and rye and meadow grasses prefer a slightly higher pH but still close to neutral.

The exception I would make is that if you are going to spend a lot of money on your lawn then it would be worthwhile hiring an expert to do a full soil analysis on your lawn.

How Often Should I Use Compost On My Lawn

Personally I topdress my lawn with compost as part of my lawn maintenance routine every 2-3 years and it definitely improves the health of my lawn every time.

If you have never used compost to topdress your lawn I would definitely recommend you start doing it.

Once you see the benefit of adding compost to your lawn you will realize just how good it is for the health of your lawn and if you are like me and are seeking lawn perfection it will become a vital part of your routine.

As long as you only add a thin layer of good quality and balanced compost it can really do no harm to your lawn so you may even decide to do it more often than me, which could be every year and you will only see benefits from the process.


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