topdressing with organic matter

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by mac43rn, Dec 11, 2002.

  1. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    I have a lawn (approx 1/2 acre)with a three way blend fescue. Unfortunatly, the area I am in is 99% clay. It is very compacted, thus I aerate twice a year (spring and fall). The lawn was newly seeded in the fall of 2001. I have an irrigation system, have a five step fertilization program but something is still missing. I have done a soil sample and it turns out fine. I really want to try to ammend the soil but do not know where to turn. There is no one in my area that offers this service, so it looks like I will have to take matter into my own hands. Questions:

    1. What type of organic matter is best

    2. How do I go about doing this

    -All suggestions would be greatly appreciated
  2. The more decomposed the material the better. I like to use a blend that has cow manure. If it smells its too green.
    I'd check around with local suppliers to find best available.

    Broadcast about 1/2" deep over lawn. Then rake, a lawn comber, or something else to even it out.
  3. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    so a broadcast spreader will work?
  4. Probably not, too small opening, plus you would be refilling too often.
    By broadcast I meant slinging with a shovel. I can spread 1-3 yards an hour depending on how far it needs to be moved.
  5. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    approx how many yard would I need for 1/2 acre?
  6. cubic yard is 3' X 3' X 3'

    3 X 3 = 9

    So to cover at rate of 1/4"

    3' divided by 1/4" = 144

    144 X 9 = 1,296 sq ft cover by 1 yard at 1/4"

    1 acre is 43,560 sq ft

    so if you have approximately 21,780 sq ft (your 1/2 acre) divided by 1,296 ft would be 16.8 (17 ordered) yards of material

    If you have low or bare spots allow a little more for those areas.
    Or if you want heavier coverage you should be able to figure from this.
  7. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    Do your topdressing right after aeration, in order to accomplish maximum mixing into the soil profile.

    Real ammendment of growing medium should be done before installation of plants. Then you can mix the soil profile completely. But it is a little more than just trying to loosen the clay soil. Getting good percolation can depend on the whole soil profile, sometimes down to 5' to 10' deep.

    If you have a heavy soil, and don't wish to start from scratch, sometimes aeration is the best course. Other procedures can just be time and effort wasters. In Ft. Wayne, lawns are planted in pure clay. Not worth bringing in topsoils. Premium lawns there are aerated 3-4 times a year.

    Before doing a lot of work - and 17 yd is a lot, LOL - check with your <a href="">county cooperative extension office</a>. You could at least get a copy of county soil survey from them to identify the original soil profile in your area.
  8. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    How do you aerate 3-4 times a year without getting crabgrass. I have heard the story from both sides of the fence. Some say you break the barrier and this causes crabgrass. Others, inculding perdue say aerate 3-4 times a year to get maximum results and this will not break the barreir. Just trying to hear from someone who has had experience aerating lawns this many times a year.

  9. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 472

    Crabgrass does not germinate until soil temperatures reach 55 degrees F for several consecutive days. Here in NE Illinois that does not typically occur until mid to late-May. So you can aerate in March/April/Early May and not worry about crab grass. Your pre-M's should be spread only a week or two before crabgrass starts to germinate. Pre-M's typically only last six weeks. Crabgrass will continue to germinate from mid-May into July. It is best to do split applications of pre-M to cover the full germination period of crabgrass. You could aerate again in June/July before your second pre-M application. Do your third aerateion in September when there is no risk of crabgrass germination. Also, the University of Purdue has done a study that shows that aeration after application of pre-M's does not create a significant risk of crabgrass germination (hard for seeds to germinate on a vertical wall or three inches deep at the bottom of those holes). Good luck.


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