Mark Paisley Lawn Mowing & Landscape Maintenance
Member of Independent Lawn Mowing Contractors Of Australia
For a long time many people have topdressed their lawns each year thinking they were doing the right thing when actually, all of this hard work and money was really not necessary. Don't get me wrong, all lawns at one stage or another will benefit from being topdressed, especially if this job is done correctly and at the right time of year.
The main reason for topdressing is to level the lawn or build it up to the desired level. Topdressing fills holes or low spots and encourages the grass to spread by giving it a medium to grow in.
Successful topdressing requires a few tools and some suitable soil. A good wheelbarrow with an inflatable tyre will make wheeling the soil easier. For shoveling and spreading the soil, an aluminium shovel is priceless. A small level-lawn is also a worthwhile investment for leveling and rubbing the soil in.
Soil selection is up to you but it is best to use a soil that is consistent with the soil that the lawn is growing in. This is usually sandy type loam. I prefer use a clean sandy loam rather than some of the lawn topdressing mixes available today which may claim to contain organic matter and fertiliser. My reasons for this are that a clean soil is easier to work with, resulting in a better looking finished job and you can make more money by fertilizing your client's lawns at a later date. It is up to you as a professional lawn contractors to determine the required amount of soil that is needed to complete the job.
Before you actually spread the soil, make sure the grass is actively growing. Don't top dress dormant grass. You will damage it, if not kill it. A good idea is to give the lawn a fertilize a couple of weeks before topdressing, this will help the grass push through the soil quickly. Also, mow the lawn the day before you do the job. Long grass takes more soil to cover properly and the thicker the soil layer, the harder it is for the grass to emerge.
Doing the Job
Alright, you've fertilized, you've cut the lawn, purchased the soil and you are ready to go, but it looks like rain! DON'T DO IT! Why? Besides making a big mess, wet soil does not rub in well and can sometimes dry like a hard crust on top of the grass, making it very difficult for the grass to grow through.
Okay, now the sun is out, lets get into it. Start by spreading an even layer of soil over the lawn covering the entire area. I've seen many people topdress their lawns but only covering it roughly. If you are going to the trouble, at least make sure you do it right.
Once the lawn is completely covered, don't rush in to level it off, give it a couple of hours to dry first. This will allow you to rub in the soil more effectively and you will be able to fill up holes rather than smoothing wet soil over the top. This couple of hours will allow you to go and mow another lawn or work out what to do with any soil you have left over.
Once the soil is dry, start to rub it in with the level-lawn. This can be done in any direction, just as long as you go over the whole lawn. Pick up any excess with a shovel and make sure the job is as neat as possible. Leave the site clean and tidy. Sweep up any soil off paths and drives as clients really appreciate it and it makes you look more professional. Don't water the lawns for a couple of days. This will let the grass punch through the soil.
Well, that's it! Topdressing, another add on service that can be very profitable if done correctly and at the right time of year.
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