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Topdressing Your Lawn

Topdressing is a specially prepared soil mix that is spread across the lawn with the idea to refresh it by introducing new material to the earth. The material is evenly applied as a thin layer of 1cm or less, depending on the specific purpose.

It can help with:

  • decomposition of thatch build-up
  • smoothing the lawn surface
  • protect developing grass
  • shield against winter desiccation
  • speeding up turfgrass recovery after aeration

The topdressing material used should be of the same or almost identical composition of the soil.

Topdressing can also be used as a method to slowly modify the soil profile of your yard over the course of a few years. Most often this is done in tandem with core aeration. Typically this is done with soils high in clay which tend to get compacted, by applying the material with bigger particles such as sand. The aim of this process is to get rid of compaction and help roots, nutrients, water distribute better in the soil.


It’s important to use the same topdressing material in each consecutive layering, otherwise, the soil density may become inconsistent and damage your garden. This layering can cause problems when a fine-textured soil forms a layer atop a coarse-textured soil. This prevents water from penetrating the lower soil layer and diminishes the roots access to moisture.

Proper application of topdressing distributes the material at even thickness across the lawn. Varying density in the topdressing will cause unequal distribution of moisture and patchy turf as a result. Layering the material too thick or frequent applications are not advisable as they will suffocate your lawn.

If this is done over a layer of thatch this will bury it instead of speeding up its composition. To avoid this soil aeration must be done alongside the process, otherwise grassroots will begin developing inside the thatch layer instead of the soil, making it harder to deal with stresses such as heat and drought.