Why sand and not compost?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by DeepGreenLawn, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    When you do a compost topdress does it level out the yard or do you have to use sand? If you do have to use sand what about it is different from compost that makes things level. AND would it be as effective to use a compost and sand mix to level a yard or just sand?

    One more... can you do the same shovel/rake/blower method to sand a yard?
  2. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 641

    Coarse sand improves drainage and may supply some micro-nutrients, but it isn't adding much to the available nutrient supply. I use both. Sand to improve drainage and level, and compost to feed and build soil structure. The sand also seems to keep the compost in place better than a compost only dressing.
  3. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    If you are only using small amounts in the mix I do not see an issue. The only issue with sand is that it will compact and cause problems, compost will not compact

    In honalulu hawaii they had some issues with there palms, they were going down hill quick. they assumed that they would have to be replaced they were in such bad shape, everyone said the nutrients were just running through the sand, they brought a consultant in and the consultant said "compaction" everyone else said no way. The consultant said lets do soil tests and compaction readings first. You could not get a probe into the sand it was so compacted.

    They had to use jack hammers to get down into the sand and free the palms, they came back pretty quick and did not have to be replaced

    smart consultant
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Sand is easy for leveling. The predominant soil type here is clay which holds water, if you have depressions filled with sand they quickly dry out and the native clay is still moist.

    I use screened topsoil (clay) for leveling and compost for topdressing for nutrient purposes. I never use sand, also the reels don't like the sand. The compost just breaks down to fast for leveling purposes.
  5. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    that was something else I had in mind, sand and reel mowers don't mix too well. So you just use topsoil? I guess that makes since too. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
  6. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Posts: 137

    There are also issues with mixing different types of soil. Every university recommendation I have found suggest to use a similar top dress to the existing soil. The USGA has a paper from the mid 90's talking about using different particle size of sand causing layering issues when used for top dressing. Compost or similar soil type. Just my 2 cents
  7. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    I need to add that I only deal with Bermuda to it creeps and fills pretty quick.
  8. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    As do I, sounds like our soils are pretty much the same. Wouldn't soil be harder to put down though? How about a clay/compost mix? Wait, that kind of goes back to the whole compost going away too fast. EVERYONE uses sand though, not a lot for the most part just a skimming. I am not talking about an inch or two of sand, just about a 1/3" or so to help level it off. This would be mainly for my reel mower type customers who like their lawn REALLY short. Other than that, the bermuda cut at the right hieght comes out looking pretty good as long as the ground isn't too chopped up.
  9. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Here is what I do. Dry the lawn up for a few days, scalp the lawn, spread the screened clay, it must be dry and always is here. Then I use a drag mat to level off. Works really well on large areas where you can pull it with a mower or quad, do big circles. Then set the irrigation controller like you just seeded, several syringe cycles a day and pound it with N. You will be mowing in a week this time of year.
  10. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    problem... no watering

    no watering = low N inputs

    low N inputs = slower growth

    This is why I was wanting to mix in compost (N available as it can take it)

    We both know you can't kill bermuda for the most part, but as with any grass you sure can damage it. Most of these lawns are not too chopy, the one in particular is pretty smooth he just wants it like an iron went across it. Putting green. I think silt from the rivers will do fine. Like I said it won't be copious amounts, just a little here and a little there. The compost I think will also help break it up in the future am I wrong?

    We are in a BAD drought, last year was severe, this year, as of now, it is just BAD

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