Top Dressing?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by David W, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. David W

    David W LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283

    Who does it, what do you use, and what is it for exactly?

    For bare thin turf or a form of fert? What?

  2. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,506

    Golf courses, athletic fields do it regularly. It's good for a soil management program. Good way to change the soil profile. Heavy clay, aerate heavily and top dress with sand. Poor soil quality, aerate heavily and topdress with top soil or compost. Not a fertilizer, but will help the overall soil picture, which will help the grass grow.
  3. David W

    David W LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283


    But doesn't the top dressing smother the existing turf? I see the pull behind spreaders used in Turf magazines and on the web but can't see how anyone could spread top soil.

    Any LCO's out there do any top dressing for customers on a small scale and if so what sort of spreader do you use. Standard fert spreader (Earthway, etc)
  4. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    If you want a real exercise in frustration, load up a normal broadcast spreader with sand and try and top dress a yard. Unless it is perfectly dry, it just won't go through. Even wide open with perfectly dry material, it isn't going to move the volume you want. Don't ask me how I know this.

    Topdressing is done with spreaders that have various methods of dealing with slightly moist materials. The best of them also throw the material at the ground, rather than just dropping it, thus getting it closer to the soil instead of on top of the grass. This last point is nice, but not essential. Unless you go nuts and try to add 3/4 of an inch all at once, you will not smother the grass. The blades will always seek the sun, and will move a pretty incredible load to get to it.

    Look at Earth & Turf and Turfco for their top dressing units. I bought a 15 year old Turfco Mete-R-Matic off eBay and rebuilt it. Their units are among the best on the market, in my opinion. The Earth & Turf is a nice unit, too, but not as heavily built (but it doesn't have the price tag of a Turfco, either).
  5. NickN

    NickN LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 1,009

    I use a Newer Spreader.It'll spread sand,compost,top soil,and of course,manuer.
    It spreads a layer from 1/4" -3/4" depending on the settings.
    Yes,it will cover some of the grass,but you can rake or drag the soil in.
  6. paponte

    paponte LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,366

    We topdress starting in September using enriched compost, and just run it through the mulch blower. Spreades out evenly, and is great to do when seeding also. :)
  7. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    the person to pm questions overall about topdressing is 65hoss (Eric Barnett).
  8. trying 2b organic

    trying 2b organic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    I charge 200 $ a yd to topdress lawns with screened compost. I use a wheelbarrow and fan rake . (yards here are mostly small 1- 3 k sqr) It has a dramatic result regardless of what the soil was. Sandy soil? Clay soil? This is the best amendment for either. Heavy overseed. This is a part of a lawn reno generally. 1yd per k = 1/4 inch . raked into existing lawn.

    Its fast, its dirty, its profitable and the results are amazing.

    I realize the main limitation is lawn size / labour costs for this method of spreading it out.
  9. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    Top dressing is a process. It is the process of spreading a product of some kind over existing turf. It started decades ago on golf and is now making a transition to home lawns and sports turf. What you apply or topdress depends on what you are trying to do to the turf. Keep in mind a top dressing machine is just a very accurate spreading machine that will spread everything from fine lime to heavy compost. they can be used for smoothing out rough lawns to seeding new lawns depending on what you want to do. Top dressing is a great way to smooth out a rought fescue lawn. Get a nice blend of soil mix some seed into it and top dress it onto the rough lawn. Put a drag behind the machine so it smooths out the lawn and water in. The material and seed is dragged into the low spots where you need grass and a new fuller lawn develops. Top dressing other materials like sand into a lawn can change the composition of the lawn. Also you can use the unit for spreading oranic fertilizers into a lawn if you want to go that way.
    Top dressers are accurate spreading machines no more no less. If you want to know more about what they can do talk to the people that have been doing it the longest at or call them at 800-679-8201
  10. Turfco Tim

    Turfco Tim LawnSite Member
    Messages: 101

    In early November there will be a great opportunity for anyone interested in seeing the top dressing process. We at Turfco will have a working top dresser in our booth at the Green Industry Expo. GIE is in Columbus, OH this year. The show schedule is Nov. 2 outdoor demos, Nov. 3-4 tradeshow inside.
    For those of you who have never attended GIE it is a great equipment show. The outdoor demo day is a great opportunity to get your hands on the stuff you are talking about on Lawnsite and also to see what else is out there.
    Anyone within 200 miles of Columbus should at least drive in for a day.

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