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To top-dress, or not to top-dress

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by sulston, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. sulston

    sulston LawnSite Member
    Posts: 52

    Looking for some opinions from guys(or girls) who aerate/topdress/overseed.

    1. On a lawn that's in pretty good condition, after I core aerate, is it necessary to top-dress or can I just broadcast seed after aerating and forget about top-dressing?

    2. On a lawns that need a good top dressing, approx. how much material (on avg) should I plan on putting down, say per 1000 square feet? Or how thick, eg. 1/2", 1", 2", etc?

    I will be aerating a bunch of lawns and I'm basically trying to figure out which places will actually need a top-dressing and which ones won't, and of the places that do, how much material I will need.

    Thanks a lot for any help.
  2. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,511

    soil test then follow up with recomendations. only easy way to make a positive impact.
  3. sulston

    sulston LawnSite Member
    Posts: 52

    I can agree with that but not really anything to do with what I am asking, maybe I should be more clear. I am concerned with top-dressing and it's benefits relating to seed germination when overseeding only, not with any nutrient value it may add to the lawn or anything else for that matter. Let's pretend the lawn is perfect other than a little thin and needs to be thickened up a bit. I am simply trying to find out if the cost of a top-dressing(triple-mix) is justified when overseeding, when the lawn will also be core aerated first. Or, will the core aeration and all the holes it makes and little plugs it leaves on the lawn, be adequate enough for the seed/soil contact needed for good germination of the seed, without having to add a top-dressing to the entire lawn?
  4. bikemonkey

    bikemonkey LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    We started topdressing after aeration last year and had great results. The compost material (produced, aged and tested (NCSU) at a local facility)was usually 6.5-7.0 pH. Germination was higher, plus it increased organic activity within the soil.
  5. Turfco Tim

    Turfco Tim LawnSite Member
    Posts: 101

    Top dressing, when using the right material, will only improve the results of your seeding program. The amount of material applied should not bury the turf. In most lawns 1/4" of material is adequate. On an 8,000 sq.ft lawn expect to use about 3 cu. yds of material.

    Top dressing and seeding together is a great way to increase germination. Top dress first, seed on top and drag the top dressing and seed into the turf canopy with a small section of chain link fence.

    I think you will be pleased with the results.
  6. jrlandscaping781

    jrlandscaping781 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    What kind of equipment do you use for topdressing?
  7. sulston

    sulston LawnSite Member
    Posts: 52

    Turfco Tim, excellent info, thank you very much. Just one more thing I'm curious about though, is it a waste of time to aerate then broadcast seed and skip top-dressing, or is it just more ideal to add the step of top-dressing. Roughly what kind of a difference are we talking here. I only ask because of super cheapo customers who aren't willing to pay the extra that top dressing adds to the price. I figure if you still get relatively adequate results from simply aerating then broadcasting seed, then it's at least worth offering to those customers who aren't willing to pay for top dressing, and get some money out of them rather than nothing at all. But if it's just a waste of time and the results are poor then I won't even bother. Thanks again.
  8. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,511

    pulling cores and over seeding is great top dressing or even adding fert only helps it is worth it either way I recommend aeration to anybody who wants to improve their lawn
  9. Turfco Tim

    Turfco Tim LawnSite Member
    Posts: 101

    You definitely want to aerate every year. Top dressing would be in addition to aeration. If you own a top dresser you can figure to charge at least what you charge for aeration plus material costs. If you don't own a top dresser and are doing the spreading by hand (dumping wheel barrow loads and hand raking) expect to charge substantially more.

    Mechanical top dressers will cut the application time in half and are much less labor intensive.

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