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Top Dressing your LAWN - Dillo Dirt - Temple, Belton and Harker Heights Texas

I am often asked my opinion on top dressing lawns with compost. So here it is.

Pros: Adds micronutrients and increases biological activity in the soil. Increases soil porosity, which slightly increases water utilization.

Cons: Often brings in insects and weeds, last year (2012) we saw sedges, yellow and purple nut sedge. This year, we are seeing Dallisgrass. (2013) Often applied too thick, (if blown on) suffocating the lawn, depriving it of sunlight. It also brings in disease, such as brown patch, insects such as sod webworms, and armyworms.

Of Note: 2013 Seems everybody is jumping on the Top Dressing Bandwagon... In Cedar Park and in Round Rock, there are a couple of companies "selling" the application of a Dillo Dirt top dressing. My problem with these two companies is; what they are selling and what you get, aren't always the the same. They are selling 1/4" to 1/2" of product, applied over the lawn. What they are delivering is 1/16" to 1/8" of a 30% chocolate loam mix. Sandy Loam is preferred for Temple, Belton and Harker Heights and Dillo Dirt isn't readily available, because of the facility that makes it caught fire in February, 2013. Also of note is the machine they are using for spreading, isn't capable of that type volume in one pass.

Why do people top dress? People are confused between top dressing, composting and lawn leveling. Golf courses level the putting greens and fairways with sand, not compost. Gardens and beds are favorite areas for compost and I highly recommend this.
Compost that you make on your property, is a great thing for your gardens and beds. Unfortunately, most of the commercially available compost blends aren't turned properly, nor are they allowed to get "hot" enough. Furthermore, they are nothing more than yard waste, taken to the landfill. (Think "Dillo Dirt") I cant tell you how many lawns we have rescued from top dressing with compost.

Top dressing with top soil is another issue in its own class. Top dressing with top soil or sandy loam, adds no nutrients or microbial activity to the soil, and is a poor choice for leveling. In fact I know of no reason to ever do this that would benefit turf. Soil applied on top of grass, will not work its way under the sod in any volume that could ever make any differance.

So what should you do: You will like this answer, because its the easiest and cheapest.

If you need to level your lawn, use sand. Sand increases the porosity of the soil. Temple, Belton and Harker Heights soil has a very high clay content. sand helps keep your soil loose. Sand is easy to spread, and cheap. Never spread more than 1/8 of an inch at a time. Use common play-sand found at Home Depot.

If you want to increase the micronutrient levels in your soil and increase microbial activity, use Milorganite, Houactinite and/or a compost tea. All can be applied by way of a hose end sprayer. These products wont bring in any insect, disease or weed issues. I highly recommend them and I use them as part of our lawn care program.

If you want to increase the efficiency of water applied to you lawn and landscape, there are many products available to do this, ranging from Surfactants, Humic Acid and Hydrogels. Aqualizer is the only product that is a combination of all three.



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