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How thick should I topdress with compost?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Midstate Lawncare, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. Midstate Lawncare

    Midstate Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    I am not trying to split hairs here, and I understand that some cases will require more or less compost.... My question is What is the "Normal" ammount you would apply topdressing a lawn? 1/4" 1" thankyou in advance.
  2. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,056

    Normally, I use 1/4" of compost top dress.
  3. Midstate Lawncare

    Midstate Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    thanks for th reply
  4. growingdeeprootsorganicly

    growingdeeprootsorganicly LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    1 yd per 1000 = 1/4" give or take
  5. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    We usually just do 1/16 to 1/8 - we are getting 4 to 6K per 30 to 34 cu ft of compost - our purpose is usually to feed the microbes in our tea. Also depends on how much you are charging and what you are trying to accomplish for feeding microbes 1/16 inch dusting is plenty. To cover seed 1/8 is plenty to change soil structure in one application you might need 3 inches. So it depends on your scope (purpose).
  6. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    I understand that a lot depends on what is in the compost... do you guys use the compost as your fert with CT? If so, how long does it take with a typical yard to see results that the customer is pleased with? Nice green thick healthy lawns?

    I the problem between me and most people here is I am dealing with bermuda which is N hungry... so what is put down is used up pretty quickly it seems...
  7. dtally

    dtally LawnSite Member
    Male, from Rock Hill, SC
    Messages: 82

    Since we are on a compost subject, Anyone ever use ERTH Food.
  8. Hi..I'll jump in here!

    This is what I would suggest; Take a soil sample and send to a lab for your traditional chemical test....A&L Lab is good. They include an organic matter percentage. If you are below 5%, topdress with 1/4 inch. Test again in several months. This is a good inexpensive way to go about this.

    Make sure you take several cores of soil from different parts of the turf and mix together for the soil test. You can get a very accurate average percentage for your lawn.

    This is a good way to topdress your lawn.

    I hope this helps!
  9. Wow, you are so correct about the quality of the compost. It varies wildly. There are 'composts' out there which have so much undigested carbon, it would do some serious damage to your lawns. You can tell a lot by getting a $105.00 windrow thermometer as to how mature the compost is....a good (and necessary) investment if your going to be purchasing compost.

    I have been using compost topdressing and teas for turf with really nice results. The key is fixing the soil structure and getting that biology working and out competing weeds.

    Compost teas can be effectively used after top dressing in order to inoculate poor compost, or suspect compost which has not been tested. The compost that you use to make your tea must be very special; diverse, high numbers and the correct balance of organisms. This is the compost that we use/sell for making our compost tea. Diversity is the KEY. Start with the best compost you can, extract that biology with a tested brewer, spray, and let the plant decide which microbes in the tea are applicable.

    Applying good compost is like opening up a bank account for your plants...you are depositing biology which is stored and withdrawn when it's needed. Plants release exudates which encourage the growth of fungi and bacteria. The next trophic level consumes (eats) the organisms which were grown as a result of the plants specific exudate. The plant receives it's nutrients in the soluble form when the organism is digested by the higher trophic level, weather it's a protozoa, nematode or other micro arthropod.

    These exudates change continuously, based upon moisture, tempurature, stress factors (like scalping) and MANY other factors.

    The addition of microbial foods is another 'deposit' you can make into the biology bank. Many of these inputs take some time to 'clear', and need to be applied well in advance so that they are available when the microbes needs them. Some other foods are like depositing cash into your account; the're available immediately!

    Compost may help you during those times when your turf looks 'starved' for nitrogen. By no means do I have any direct experience with Bermuda grass, but all the basic principals are going to be the same. There are surely others that have experience with this than me.

    Sorry for my rant. ~ ~ ~
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    This is very simply stated and understandable. Good paragraph. :)

    My question is : Does anyone believe it isn't true?

    Are you saying that - as life goes on in the soil, nutrients are released in large or lesser amounts depending on varying conditions?
    My additional point is that - the plants are in the same 'timing' as the microbes. As the microbes slow down so does the plant. Different enzymes will be exuded, by the plant, to match the changing conditions of the weather/soil.

    IMHO We tend to override these built-in precautions with soluable fertilizers.

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