Top Dressing - Advice?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by GRLawnCare, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. GRLawnCare

    GRLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5


    I have a client asking for a quote on top dressing. It would be for her and two neighbours (side by side).

    Total is roughly 8500 square feet. I am planning to use 5 yards of top dressing. That should provide about 1/5" of coverage. I am considering going with 6 yards just in case. She did say she had drainage issues, does this mean I should use more?

    How long would this take? A fellow landscaper estimated about 2 man hours per yard. Sound right?

    How much would you typically charge for this (just labour)? How much (if any) do you usually mark up the materials?

    I looked on YouTube and saw a tool called a trulute or a soil spreader that seemed like it would make life a lot easier. Worth getting one? Or just use a few rakes?

    Any tips?

    This is my first post, I hope I am not asking too much!
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Topdressing will not do anything for drainage issues...
    .2" of topsoil of any kind is what I call a waste of time, use compost...

    Are you dealing with clay? or what is the drainage issue? What does the client hope to accomplish with this topdressing idea?
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,812

    Considering the labor and expense to the customer...and the chance of bringing in weed seed...fertilizer and water...perhaps combined with aeration and top-quality seed would increase the quality a lot more.

    Perhaps a granulated organic fertilizer would suit the situation. Combined with some way to correct the drainage issue.
  4. GRLawnCare

    GRLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Small Axe - they want to darken the color of the lawn with the top dressing. It is light green/yellow due to sitting water last season. They had someone come in for the drainage issue but have yet to find out if it was effective. I'm using a soil, organic and peat moss mix.

    Riggle - I will also be aerating and applying over-seed. I will definitely suggest a granulated organic fertilizer as well.

  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Unless you're hoping that the 'soil' part of the mix will elevate the ground some I would go with just compost, for the darker green... does peat moss work as well as compost in that regard?...

    Of course if you're dealing with clay than you may want to drag in a sandy soil mix after aerating...
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,812

    "light green/yellow last season due to sitting water". If this is actually the cause. Fix the cause first. Serious drainage problems often result in no grass. This will not fix itself--it will not heal itself. And once drainage is corrected... problem is permanently solved. Costs more--but do it right. Hire a professional with trencher and laser level if needed. Water only flows downhill.

    Then fertilizer and a higher-quality, darker green type of grass will correct the poor color. But a soil test should be used in a poor color situation. What kind of grass? Low quality seed?
  7. GRLawnCare

    GRLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Riggle -

    They had someone come in to correct the problem last season. I am assuming whoever did it suggested they use aeration, over-seeding and top dressing to help to rejuvenate the lawn now that the major problem is presumably fixed.

    I spoke with the lady today and she asked that I add extra top dressing on the trenchy area at the bottom of the hill. I'm assuming she thinks this may help to level this area out. Not sure how well this will work.

    I'm not sure what type of grass it is. I'm assuming a Kentucky Blue Grass and Rye Grass mix (I don't know that much about grass strains).

    I should also make it clear that these are not high end clients. They probably won't go for anything too expensive.
  8. GRLawnCare

    GRLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Oh ya - forgot to re-ask my 2 main questions.

    ) About how long does it usually take two guys to spread a yard of top dressing? Including wheel barrow trips and all.

    Someone told me 2 guys could get a yard done in an hour. So my quote reflects 12 hours of labour for 6 yards. Does this seem low to anyone?

    2) Do you guys use a soil spreader (tutulage) or just the back end of a rake to spread the top dressing?

    These are definitely my two biggest concerns.
  9. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    2 guys should be able to work hard and spread sand in 4-5 hours and take it out...cost should be about $150-160 per man hour including material.

    Sand will not fix drainage will simply have sand that is full of water. Think of a bucket filled with gravel and full of water...the gravel simply displaces the water.
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  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I managed to fix a depressed area that had an ice puddle every Spring and the ground underneath was fit for growing moss , but very poor at keeping grass alive... we were in fairly heavy shade the way it was...

    Anyways, I just brought in some regular topsoil to raise the grade, becuz it wasn't a 'clay' issue'... then planted new seed and this Spring it came up green and alive... Of course this Spring is not a reliable 'example'... :)

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