View Full Version : Top Dressing lawns on a large scale

Five Diamond Lawns
01-04-2005, 06:46 PM
I realize by looking through the past posts that this subject gets covered a lot in the organic gardening section, but there seem to be a lot of people pretty knowledgeable about it, so here's my question.

I want to start offering, on a big scale, top dressing for residential lawns. I'm thinking of having my topsoil distributer mix up a special mix with topsoil, compost and seed together, then top dressing lawns with 2 - 6 yards of the mix. I will do lawns of any size but I think the 2 - 6 yards will be my bread and butter.
What I'm looking for is your ideas and experiences on
- the best delivery method from start to finish
- pricing

My thoughts so far are a small dump truck with a custom back end to dump into a motorized compost spreader ( I've found a lot of info on spreaders in past posts ). This way I'll only need one person to do the work and not much shoveling. I think he could spread 3 yards an hour on site. I am looking at $69 per yard.

01-04-2005, 06:56 PM
Sounds good. I am still not satisfied that an affordable small topdresser has been built on the market for use on residential lawns.

Cutters Lawn Care
01-04-2005, 08:01 PM
I sub out this type of work. There is a company that uses blower trucks for this type job. I don't know about the size of lawns in Olympia but here 3-6 yards won't get you far. They blow in 2 inches of topsoil and compost and charge 8 cents per sq ft. I charge customer 11 cents per sq foot. Average lawn here uses about 20 yards.

01-04-2005, 08:04 PM
you guys have any pics of the jobs done like this and equipment

01-04-2005, 08:06 PM
If any of you are near a Lesco and if they are like ours, then they may have a top dresser that you can use. Ours has one that they loan out to golf courses and we have used it a couple of times over the years. Just a thought.

01-04-2005, 08:22 PM
I asked my lesco guy about it last year and he didn't know what I was talking about. Additionally, you can't always use one of the big top dressers that golf courses use on a residential lawn. Most of my lawns are too small and obstructed to get one of those things in it.

01-05-2005, 02:02 AM
There is a company that uses blower trucks for this type job. They blow in 2 inches of topsoil and compost and

2" for just topdressing? Seems like a lot. My understanding was that topdressing was just a very thin layer (like in the 1/4" - 1/2" range).

And just incase anyone was interested and hadn't seen the other thread on this, here's a new topdresser that came our recently:


01-05-2005, 08:41 AM
I think he could spread 3 yards an hour on site. I am looking at $69 per yard.
Too cheap. You need a set minimum price and a pricing structure based on SF breaks. Smaller sf lawns will actually take longer due to operating in a confined space. Thus the price for smaller lawns will be higher in relation to the sf of larger lawns. Look at it this way, the larger lawns get a sf price break for volume in a way. They still pay more than small ones, but the price per sf is lower on larger areas.

Five Diamond Lawns
01-05-2005, 11:41 AM
Great comments!
I have looked into the blower idea but came up with a couple snags. First It would require 2 people on site. The only affordable one I could find is like a cement mixer and needs to be loaded by hand. Second everything I have read says you need do rake it after blowing. Third even the cheep ones ain't cheep. There too expensive to do small residential lawns.

Five Diamond Lawns
01-05-2005, 02:54 PM
The motorized top dressers are from $3800 to $6000

01-05-2005, 04:05 PM
I am kinda left out What is top dressing ? it is weird to see the guy in MI talk about it. I have never herd of this such thing here in my area.

01-05-2005, 08:28 PM
In my area, top dressing is a 3/4 inch or so layer of mixed soil (black earth, peat moss) with seed spread on top and worked in. We get $120 a yard/ soil laid. One yard of siol covers about 1000 square feet depending on the density of the lawn.

01-05-2005, 10:05 PM
There is topdressing and there is leveling, which people interchange incorrectly.

Most of it is done on Bermuda and Zoysia in this area.

True topdressing is a 1/4 inch layer of topsoil, sand and/or other organic material. It does little to improve the grading of the lawn, but helps with overall turf health.

What we see here in Georgia is leveling, which is much more than that. In that case, a couple of inches of the material is layered on top of the turf.

Either way, the process is the same. The turf is scalped down to 1/4 inch or less. Scalping is probably the nastiest part of this process. That is followed by a deep core aeration. Then the material is spread by machine and then manually leveled out with a broom.

The most important element of topdressing is aeration. We've had a slew of Bermuda lawns killed by supposed pros who simply just piled sand on top of the turf.

Some partners of mine do this locally, and a 3,000 sq ft lawn starts at around $600 depending on how much material is needed. So there is good money to be made in it once you have the equipment (dump trucks, topdresser, aerator, reel mowers, etc.)