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mictrik
09-09-2009, 09:46 AM
My front lawn is now (thanks to landscaping) small at 1600 square feet. Due to trees the lawn is shady 50-60% of the time but I am removing a tree and trimming another to remedy this. The lawn is green, mostly weed free, but a bit thin and in my opinion in need of topdressing and over-seed.

I wish to add 1/2 inch of top dressing but am not sure what to use. I do not have a machine that will spread the top dressing just have a wheel barrow, shovel and my back. I calculate that I will need 2.5 yards of topdressing but will likely get 3 yards to even up low areas. I understand that some recommend a mixture of loam, sand and peat while others use compost.

Does anyone have any advice for this situation? I would like to get this done 1 day next week and plan on core aerating the day before.

mictrik
09-09-2009, 02:41 PM
Bump .

mictrik
09-09-2009, 08:43 PM
Bump again

phasthound
09-09-2009, 10:19 PM
Compost, compost, compost.

mictrik
09-10-2009, 12:49 AM
OK got it COMPOST, after calling around a bit I was leaning towards this option since I can find compost but not loam. The soil in my area contains a high percentage of clay should I add some sand to the compost? In a few areas i have noticed that water drainage is not the best. Are there any qualities i should look for in a compost for the lawn?

Smallaxe
09-10-2009, 07:09 AM
The compost should look like dirt and smell like 'good' dirt.
Loam is 45% clay, 45% sand, 10% silt/OM and what not.

For clay - a sandy compost would be a good idea.

Make sure the lawn is dried out b4 you aerate. Plugging wet clay means plugs laying around for a long time.

Kiril
09-10-2009, 07:33 AM
The compost should look like dirt and smell like 'good' dirt.
Loam is 45% clay, 45% sand, 10% silt/OM and what not.

Lots of different types of loams, they do not necessarily have those percentages.

And just get compost. It is not worth your time or money to add sand to it.

Smallaxe
09-10-2009, 07:49 AM
Good point. Some 'loams can have 75% clay in it. The important thing to remember is that topsoil will have more clay which is not what you want.

The area that doesn't drain well, will continue to not drain well, with the addition of compost. How thick it the clay layer, and what is underneath?

Kiril
09-10-2009, 10:44 AM
The area that doesn't drain well, will continue to not drain well, with the addition of compost.

That is not necessarily true.

mictrik
09-10-2009, 12:41 PM
I called a place i had bought mulch from a year ago and they have compost at $26.00 yard said he could add a yard of sand for $36.00. I may get 3 yards compost plus 1 sand and use any extra around other parts of the house.

I plan to overseed afterwards, how soon after topdressing should I seed? I am considering covering the seed with peat. Does this sound like a good way to go?

phasthound
09-10-2009, 03:03 PM
I called a place i had bought mulch from a year ago and they have compost at $26.00 yard said he could add a yard of sand for $36.00. I may get 3 yards compost plus 1 sand and use any extra around other parts of the house.

I plan to overseed afterwards, how soon after topdressing should I seed? I am considering covering the seed with peat. Does this sound like a good way to go?

Use compost without the sand. Do not use peat.
I aerate, power seed and top dress with compost all in the same day.
Water 3-4 times a day for 10-15 minutes for a couple of weeks to keep the seeds moist . Use the best seed for your area, don't go cheap on seed.

Ron D.
09-10-2009, 11:00 PM
I've been doing the same thing this summer, rennovating a neglected yard. I am not the professional these other gentlemen are, but I got much of my direction from reading their numerous posts about this subject. My soil has a lot of clay, and I've had good success by topdressing with only compost. I used about 21 cu yds for my front yard (about 12,000 sq ft) and about the same for my back yard, and spread it all by hand using a dirt rake. It was tough but the compost spreads pretty easily after you get it in place. I dumped several piles of compost and then would spread each pile half way toward other piles, etc, and it worked out pretty good.

My methodology consisted of killing weeds/crabgrass first, then core aerating, then topdressing, then re-core areating to mix the compost into the clay soil, then overseeding and raking the seed under the compost. I initially hit it with starter fert, and then moved to Milorganite. I think the extra areating, mixing the compost into the clay, helped vrs just topdressing.

I kept the seed bed moist for the first 3 to 4 weeks, and the lawn is a very lush green and is filling in very nicely. I'm in Texas, so I have sodded San Aug in the shady areas and seeded bermuda for the sunny areas. I hope to do a fall topdressing after areating, and then overseed it, but it may have to wait until sring, depending on time.

Attached are pics of the back yard project, out of order. There is about six weeks between the no grass pics and the grass pics. A few more overseedings may do the trick where it looks full and mature.

Kiril
09-11-2009, 08:36 AM
Use compost without the sand. Do not use peat.
I aerate, power seed and top dress with compost all in the same day.
Water 3-4 times a day for 10-15 minutes for a couple of weeks to keep the seeds moist . Use the best seed for your area, don't go cheap on seed.

What he said .... except for the watering amounts. How often and how long will depend heavily on location, type of sprinklers, soil type, and system uniformity. As long as you follow the "keep the seeds moist" (not wet) then you are good to go.

Smallaxe
09-11-2009, 08:56 AM
I called a place i had bought mulch from a year ago and they have compost at $26.00 yard said he could add a yard of sand for $36.00. I may get 3 yards compost plus 1 sand and use any extra around other parts of the house.

I plan to overseed afterwards, how soon after topdressing should I seed? I am considering covering the seed with peat. Does this sound like a good way to go?

You get a goo covering of a sandy compost - just plant the seed in that. Peat will do you no extra good, in fact can become hydrophobic quite easily.

phasthound
09-11-2009, 09:49 AM
What he said .... except for the watering amounts. How often and how long will depend heavily on location, type of sprinklers, soil type, and system uniformity. As long as you follow the "keep the seeds moist" (not wet) then you are good to go.

Yup, that's the best way to say it.

95Z71
09-11-2009, 10:14 PM
Will using compost raise the grade of your yard? Pictures look great Ron.

Smallaxe
09-12-2009, 07:06 AM
Will using compost raise the grade of your yard? Pictures look great Ron.

Not really, and not permanently.

95Z71
09-12-2009, 12:50 PM
so i really need some kind of dirt right?

Ron D.
09-12-2009, 02:35 PM
95Z71, how much are you trying to raise your elevation? Do you need to raise the entire yard area, or trying to fill in some low areas? With a little more information, you will get some great advice here.

mictrik
09-12-2009, 03:29 PM
So what is the recommended method for raising the elevation of lawn? This was not my main goal for topdressing but since it was brought up I think i would like to raise it about 1/2 - 1".

Ron D.
09-12-2009, 05:25 PM
To raise it 1/2 inch or so I would probably first spread some sand or loam, seed then topdress with the compost. However, if you're only a about an inch low, I would think as your turf develops and matures that it will add an inch to your yard in a few years. You may have already calculated that into your question, however. But I have made the mistake of starting my yard elevation too high on a couple homes I've built, and had to later lower the grade so everything could drain properly.

Looking at medians and sudivision common areas in my area, which mostly has turf bermuda, the turf is extremely thick, and is upwards to 3" even when it looks to be cut low. I would just advise to imagine where it may be 3 to 4 yrs from now.

Let us know what you decide to do, I'm sure it will turn out great.

Kiril
09-12-2009, 05:35 PM
The elevation will increase over the years on its own.

RigglePLC
09-12-2009, 06:49 PM
Don't add sand to clay--clay fills the openings between sand particles--you get a concrete-like substance.

phasthound
09-12-2009, 08:02 PM
The elevation will increase over the years on its own.

Please explain how. :confused:

95Z71
09-12-2009, 11:33 PM
95Z71, how much are you trying to raise your elevation? Do you need to raise the entire yard area, or trying to fill in some low areas? With a little more information, you will get some great advice here.


Just trying to fill in some low spots and take away some bumps when you walk across the yard. So to hijack.

Smallaxe
09-13-2009, 08:18 AM
Don't add sand to clay--clay fills the openings between sand particles--you get a concrete-like substance.

That's an old wives' tale... What do you think 'loam' is? ...People have been doing it for generations... People have posted pictures of successful sand topdressing over clay...

Here is another good example of how our 'education' establishment has convinced their educated masses to believe something against common sense.

What the difference between adobe brick and balanced loam soil?

Kiril
09-13-2009, 08:50 AM
Please explain how. :confused:

Organic matter doesn't entirely disappear .... conservation of mass.
Loess also contributes to it along with any other input.

If the rate of matter coming into the system is higher than what is leaving, you get buildup. If I had a nickel for every sprinkler I have had to adjust up because the elevation of the lawn had changed .......... :)

Kiril
09-13-2009, 09:01 AM
That's an old wives' tale... What do you think 'loam' is? ...People have been doing it for generations... People have posted pictures of successful sand topdressing over clay...

Here is another good example of how our 'education' establishment has convinced their educated masses to believe something against common sense.

What the difference between adobe brick and balanced loam soil?

I see we are on our 6 month cycle. How many times do I need to post the how do you make adobe clay bricks doc?

http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_g/G-521.pdf

If what you say is true, then all those people that have been making adobe clay bricks for millennia must also be a myth. You can't have one be true without the other also being true.

Fact of the matter is Axe, you can make your soil worse by adding sand to it. Care should be used when adding sand to clay.

Smallaxe
09-13-2009, 06:17 PM
I see we are on our 6 month cycle. How many times do I need to post the how do you make adobe clay bricks doc?

http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_g/G-521.pdf

If what you say is true, then all those people that have been making adobe clay bricks for millennia must also be a myth. You can't have one be true without the other also being true.

Fact of the matter is Axe, you can make your soil worse by adding sand to it. Care should be used when adding sand to clay.

Has it been 6 months already??!?! :laugh:

Sand, clay, silt, OM all together make good loam. Higher and lower percentages , notwithstanding,it has been growing plants real good for most of my life if not longer. High percentage clay is really, poor soil. Add OM is good. Add OM and sand is better.

I know the recipe for brick includes baking without sand. Does adobe use compost , clay and sand without baking or drying?

I tilled in sand by the wheelbarrow load into my garden when I first started the Blueberry patch. Mulched around the raised plots with woodchips. Along the one end I got tired of adding sand, but they were all mulched equally.

Now the woodchips are gone and the areas with no sand added are once again reddish clay with poor soil structure. Areas with sand are still loose happy dirts. :)

Ron D.
09-13-2009, 06:55 PM
95Z71, there are several ways to approach your yard leveling, depending on whether you're doing a complete renovation, or partial. If you're doing your whole yard and depending on its size, consider renting a tiller to loosen the top several inches after you have kill the weeds and mowed existing grass low. After tilling, I would rake the debris. Then the dirt would be loose enough to take from the high areas and rake to the low areas. This would make a nice bed for seed. Then topdress. If you're feeling particularly stout, till, topdress, retill to work the OM into the soil, then seed and rake it in.

In my case, my yard was too big to till and I aerated, topdressed, re-aerated then seeded and raked it in.

If you're not doing all your yard, consider tilling the high areas so that you can the humps to low areas.

If you're just wanting to fill the low spots without yard renovation, use the appropriate type of soil for your yard just to fill in. The really knowledgeable indivuals have discussed soils. To clarify, when I said you'll get good advice here, I ment on this site, not particularly from me. When I read the numerous posts from the guru's like Kiril, Smallaxe and Phasthound, it just makes me realize that I don't even know enough to ask the right questions. But I can offer common sense advice based on many years of my personal trials and errors.

Such as, with respect to the tiller, if your soil is compacted I would recommend a reverse rotating tiller. The forward rotating is very hard to control in tight soils. And with either, it helps if your soil is moist.

Good luck