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Top Dressing A Lawn

Discussion in 'In the Garden' started by dlm2310, 20 Mar 2007.

  1. dlm2310

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    Hi All,

    I need some advice on top dressing a lawn.

    My front lawn has a problem with weeds which I have just dug out recently. I realise I can blitz it with weed & feed in April but will top dressing do any good to prevent weeds ?

    I have read where you are supposed to top dress in Aug / Sept but can you do it in April or is it a waste of time ?

    I have seen a mix of compost & sharp sand mentioned, has anyone got any useful tips.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. sandwell

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    Top dressing will not prevent weeds, but would do no harm. Bear in mind it will take some time to get absorbed into the lawn, and may mar the appearance for a few weeks.
    I find it best to dig weeds out as soon as I see them, using an old kitchen knife.
    Be careful with the weed and seed, follow the instructions carefully, or you might find a problem with scorching.
    Read the packets carefully, and make sure you are getting the best product for the job, some of them say they will not scorch.
     
  3. dlm2310

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    Thanks for that.

    I don't know why but my front lawn was full of weeds until I dug them out whilst the back one is lush, maybe the front is more exposed to seeds flying about in the wind ?

    Yes I scorched the lawn once and ended up having to cut out the affected parts and re lay new turf. I had sown by hand so was not an even spread.

    Think I might invest in an applicator unless anyone has any other alternatives which are cheaper.
     
  4. sandwell

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    I did once invest in a wheeled applicator, but was not very impressed with it.
    For a small lawn they are not really suitable in my opinion.

    There are several products available which have a plastic dispenser, and I find these are reasonably satisfactory.
     
  5. coldshowerkid

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    what type of weeds do you have?

    regular mowing and using a spring-tine rake to stop the creeping low -growing weeds will help. it may be your neighbours have a weedy front garden where seeds get blown in. top dressing will not get rid of the weeds but will make the grass more healthy and thus prevent the weeds getting a better hold. Dandelions i find better not to dig up as you normally always leave a piece of tap root to grow again. i would prefer using a spot treatment for these rather than weed and feed which has its down side. also try putting a small amount of salt into the heart on the dandelion on a still day and this will kill it .
    also look at lawn sand this is a bit old fashioned now but i have used this in the past, very good for moss, there is a chance of scorching but the lawn normally recovers well and it has the benefit of making the lawn more acid and less wormcasts
     
  6. dlm2310

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    Cheers for that.

    Definetely some dandelions and some others I'm not sure what they are called.

    I assume if I were to spot treat then I'd still have to dig out the dead weed ? I must have dug out about 30 last week so was rather hoping a weed and feed in April would slow them down before they start to flourish.

    I take your point about lawn dressing. I didn't really think they would stop the weeds but like you say it improves the lawn and soil structure. Can I top dress in April then or is it normally done at the end of summer ?

    Cheers
     
  7. coldshowerkid

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    hi

    spot treatment no need to dig out the weed. it will just dry up and die.

    top dressing in april will be fine but like sandwell said it will look a bit rough for a few weeks.

    i normally top dress in april as i find this levels the lawn out a bit after winter and the grass normally looks good in may on. if worm casts are a problem top dress with peat, i know people are trying to move away from peat but it they sell it use it you will not do any harm in april
     
  8. dlm2310

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    Cheers mate, just one more thing, if I were to use just compost and sharp sand how many parts of each would you recommend ?
     
  9. sandwell

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    Depends what the compost is. Something to think about is that compost as a top dressing does attract worms, and worm casts can be a problem in wet weather. My inclination would be to use quite a heavy dressing of sharp sand, mixed with some granular fertiliser, but really it depends on the soil that you have. If it is light soil, you do not need much sand.
     
  10. coldshowerkid

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    hi

    heavy clay soil i would choose
    1 part peat 2 parts top soil 4 parts sharp sand.

    normal soil 1 part peat 4 parts top soil 2 parts sand

    if you have a sandy free draining soil 2 parts peat 4 top soil 1 sand

    if you have a worm problem use more peat and less top soil in the mixures above, over time this will make to soil more acid which worms do not like.

    the worms will not go away altogether,but should be less of a problem
     
  11. dlm2310

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    Thanks, some very useful advice.
     
  12. lx200gps

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    I think you have received good advice so far but a couple of points you may want to consider (apologies if already mentioned) are:

    1) Why bother mixing the top dressing yourself when you can buy it from all good garden centres, and some bad ones! If you do want to mix it yourself for a different ratio then don’t use building sand as it contains chemicals and your lawn will not thank you. Instead, use proper horticultural sand. Sorry if this is stating the obvious.

    2) Aerate the lawn with a garden fork before top dressing as this will allow the dressing to penetrate down to root level where it will be welcomed with open arms. This will also allow air into the soil.

    3) Apply the dressing in small heaps on the lawn and brush it in with a stiff broom to ensure even distribution. As already mentioned one of the advantages of dressing is to even out any minor bumps which have appeared over winter so getting it level is vital.

    4) Lawn sand will kill most weeds in the lawn within a few days but it needs to be treated with respect and can cause scorching if applied incorrectly. For spot treatment of broad-leaved weeds such as dandelions, or moss killing, it is excellent. If you’re not sure you could always use a weed killer for use with a spray or watering can. Verdone Extra or Evergreen Complete Soluble will kill weeds but not grass.

    5) Weeds will be rare in a lawn that is healthy and by applying lawn-food on a regular basis you should keep the grass vigorous and the weeds struggling to compete. Again, you can use a soluble feed such as Miracle Gro for this purpose if you don’t like the ideas of spreaders and granular food.

    Regards

    Stan
     
  13. dlm2310

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    Thanks Stan
     

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