Top Dressing Your Lawn with Compost


Top dressing your lawn with compost is a common practice that has been used for centuries. In fact, in the 15th century top dressing was applied to golf courses in Scotland. Because top dressing provides lawns with beneficial nutrients, many homeowners use this technique along with regular lawn maintenance routines. Read on to discover helpful tips and the benefits to top dressing your lawn with compost.


The Benefits of Top Dressing Your Lawn with Compost

Top dressing a lawn with compost may seem at first to be ineffective or even harmful to your lawn. After all, the last thing you likely want to see is compost covering up your once lush, beautiful grass. Although top dressing your lawn has a temporary unattractive appearance, its rich nutrients deliver incredible benefits to lawns.

Applying compost as a top dressing to your lawn can improve the soil structure. Top dressing can also build up beneficial soil microbes, aerate compact soil, improve drainage, and even reduce thatch. Furthermore, top dressing your lawn may smooth out uneven terrain in your landscape and reduce the need to fertilize your lawn. Providing top dressing to your lawn will also increase and retain the soil’s nutrients. This helps your lawn fight diseases or other environmental stressors.

In addition to promoting healthy grass growth, top dressing can significantly aid you in your lawn maintenance. Besides reducing the need for fertilizer, top dressing your lawn may help the soil maintain proper moisture levels. This in turn can reduce the amount of supplemental water your lawn needs.


compost in wheelbarrow


When to Apply Top Dressing to Your Lawn

The best time of year to apply top dressing to your lawn is during your lawn’s growing season. This may be either late spring or early summer, depending on where you live and the type of grass.

The autumn season is also an excellent time to enrich the soil with compost, especially if you grow cool season grass. Spreading organic matter to the soil in the fall will help prepare your lawn for next year’s growing season. To further boost your lawn’s soil quality, you may choose to top dress your lawn twice a year.

NOTE: Avoid applying top dressing to your lawn in the winter, as doing so may destroy the grass. Additionally, do not apply top dressing during rainy weather, as the wetness will make it difficult to properly level and dress the soil.


spreading top dressing of compost on a lawn


How to Apply

The first step to applying top dressing to your lawn is testing the soil. If your soil’s pH is off-balance, be sure to adjust it accordingly before top dressing your lawn with compost. After adjusting the soil’s pH level, mow your lawn as low as possible without damaging or stressing the grass. Never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at a time. Next, remove any thatch, moss, grass clippings, and debris by raking your entire lawn. An aerator may also be used to open your lawn’s thatch layer.

While there are a few techniques for applying top dressing, the most common method is applying top dressing by hand. This process requires the use of a shovel, wheelbarrow, and, of course, lots of compost. Using your shovel, gently apply and spread a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer of top dressing to your lawn. Rake the top dressing to achieve a level surface. Then, water your lawn to help the organic material reach the existing soil.


a bag of renew soil sitting on a lawn


Lawnifi® Renew is a perfect top dressing option for home lawns. Lawnifi Renew promotes quicker root establishment, increased survivability, improved soil health and improved water retention. Learn more about Lawnifi Renew here.

While it may take a few seasons for you to fully notice the results, top dressing is an easy technique that greatly benefits lawns. With the simple application of top dressing, you can enjoy the attractive beauty of a flourishing lawn for many seasons to come.


sowing grass seed


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