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Healthy lawns need healthy soil. Most homeowners do not have enough good soil to grow a healthy lawn. Topdressing with the right compost is the solution!

Why use compost?

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  • Contains organic matter and nutrients.
  • Improves soil structure and health (lawns need 6 inches of good soil to thrive.)
  • Enhances root development.
  • Reduces the need for fertilizers.
  • Increases soil’s ability to retain water.

Just a few easy steps:

  1. Have the compost delivered to your home and dumped in a convenient location. (Make sure the dump truck does not drive on the lawn!)
  2. You’ll need a wheelbarrow, metal rake, and lawn rake.
  3. Dump wheelbarrow loads of compost all over the lawn, 3-4 feet apart.
  4. Push and fan out these piles with the flat end of a metal rake.
  5. Lightly rake, fanning out with the lawn rake so the grass blades poke through.

Most lawn care professionals will topdress for you.

When is the best time?

  • Late summer or late spring.
  • If you have very little topsoil, twice a year for 1-2 years.
  • If you have 6 inches of quality soil, there is no need to topdress.
  • If aerating: topdress afterward.
  • Dry weather is always best. If the compost is dry and lightweight, your job is much easier.

Know how much you need

  • 1/4 to 3/8 inch layer of compost spread over the lawn.
  • 1,000 square foot area needs roughly .75 cubic yards of compost.

Find the right compost

  • Find finished compost: it should smell earthy and sweet and should not be steaming hot.
  • Know what it’s made of: many local sources are organic and contain shellfish. They are great for lawns and gardens.

Next steps:

  • Overseed with a low-maintenance grass seed.
  • Apply compost tea.

Important note: Topdressing is not recommended if you live near a waterbody.

Credit: Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District.
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