The chill is leaving the morning air and afternoons are noticeably warmer signalling spring has arrived and your cue to get out and into the garden. Spring is a wonderful time to establish new garden beds, tidy up your shrubs and give your lawn some TLC in preparation for summer.
When it comes to lawn maintenance one of the most commonly asked questions is “when is the best time to start top dressing our lawn?”
The answer to this question will depend on one of two reasons. Is your lawn in overall good shape and just needs a post-winter boost or is your lawn struggling to establish healthy roots and in need of a nutrient-rich treatment?
Top Dressing for Tired or Uneven Lawns
Topdressing brings many benefits to a lawn that has come out of winter looking a bit lacklustre. If your lawn is unlevel, you don’t have any dead patches and you’re not looking at reseeding then top dressing is a great solution to getting your lawn summer ready.
We have listed a few tips and important steps you can take to ensure great-looking results.
There are a few excellent products on the market such as the special lawn mix which is a local Gingin loam-based product, mixed with poultry manure and yellow sand that has been processed and sifted into a fine lawn mix. We recommend that this is spread at a rate of no greater than 10mm and left to weather in. This product essentially starts up your lawn and takes it from a dormant state to a growth state.
4 Steps to Thriving Lawns
The first step is to pull out the weeds, yep that’s right tedious but necessary. This can be done either by hand or you can use a selective weed killer that targets the weeds but not your lawn. There are a range of different products available for different types of lawns and you have the option to use a chemical-based weed killer or an organic natural product which may be a consideration for you if you have young children or pets.
Next, you will want to give your lawn a good mow, not too short, perhaps on your second lowest setting so you don’t expose the roots but it's sufficiently trimmed back. If you’re going to use a chemical-based weed killer then we recommend that you mow first.
The next step is crucial in your lawn care sequence and that is to aerate the lawn. We cannot overemphasize this step enough; it is key to kickstarting new growth. Over time the lawn surface becomes hard and compact so using a fork to spike holes in the soil or you can hire an aerating tool such as a roller drum will help to loosen the soil surface and prepare the soil to absorb nutrients and water at a deeper root level.
Now that the soil has been churned up it's ready for the soil lawn mix. Perforating the soil surface is very much like exfoliating and opening the pores of your skin so that you can revitalize and nourish deeper. Roughly 3 weeks after top dressing give your lawn another mow. The lawn mix is organic matter and will filter down into the lawn bed and help to form an even and consistent lawn surface. The lawn mix will act as a soil conditioner and will help to reduce any brown patches.
Lastly, feed your lawn a good quality liquid fertilizer. While there are several pellet varieties on the market we find the liquid products most effective. Troforte is a mineral-based fertilizer that can be mixed in a bucket to the specified ratios and easily watered in. It doesn’t matter what time of year you do this, so long as you are not overdoing it. It doesn’t help to drown the lawn in fertilizer because it hasn’t been done in a year it's more important to use a good quality liquid fertilizer, spread lightly and more routinely.
Top Dressing for Sick Lawns
The second reason to top-dress would be to add nutrients to the lawn as part of an overall lawn care routine or to help re-establish ailing lawns. If your lawn is not healthy, undulating, with bare patches you will likely need to reseed in which case we recommend an organic landscape mix. This is a premium product and does not contain poultry manure as this can be too strong for an ailing lawn.
You would use this landscape mix as a base for a new lawn or to reseed. The aim of using this particular mix is to encourage the roots to grow deeper, the roots have been dormant and going into the dry months you want to stimulate the lawn to draw on deeper water reserves since surface water will evaporate very quickly in summer. The Landscape mix also contains a slow-release fertilizer so a great option to get started with.
If you haven’t weeded for a while there may have been more weeds than lawn and you’re now left with some bare patches. While most lawns will grow and run over the soil patches others may take a bit more preparation and require reseeding.
Start with a good mow and aerate the surface before you reseed the area. Once you have top-dressed try to keep the kids and pets off the lawn for the first few days just to help the seed establish. Feed the lawn with a good quality fertilizer and while it’s tempting, do not over-fertilize and follow the fertilizing schedule and ratios for the product you are using. A slow-release fertilizer can give you up to 6 months of nourishment and you will only need to feed again at the end of summer.
They talk about watching a pot boil well watching a lawn grow can be just as painful so if you are looking for some instant motivation there are liquid fertilizers on the market that can rejuvenate your lawn within 24-48 hours. The health of your lawn really depends on regular maintenance and consistent attention throughout the seasons. Keeping up a routine will cost less in the long run compared to a lawn that has been neglected and requires a shock spring makeover.
What About Vertimowing?
If you have spongy lawns they can respond well to Vertimowing. When your lawn has a thick thatch on the surface it prevents vital nutrients and water from reaching the roots. The mowing action chops your lawn into pieces and while it sounds aggressive it can be beneficial in stimulating the root growth. This is best done by a professional lawn mowing company that can assess your lawn condition, type of lawn and if vertimowing is the best way to manage and revitalize your lawn.
How Much to water?
Until the weather heats up we take the approach of less is more. Just a light hand water will see your turf through the seasons and make sure your sprinkler system is set up correctly and delivering optimal flow, not only for your lawns but your water bill too.
Water during the cooler time of the day and not when the wind is blowing as two-thirds of your water just blows away. Twice a week is usually enough provided it’s not blistering hot and because water rapidly evaporates instead of filtering below the lawn surface.
Top Spring Tips
Spring is a wonderful time of year where the temperatures are warm but not hot and perfect for spending a few hours beautifying your yard and turf. Like any trade, it’s a good idea to spend some time making sure your garden tools are in good working order and maintained because it makes the whole gardening experience so much more enjoyable when everything works properly.
Make sure your pruning shears are sharp, your whipper snipper tuned, and your mower has been serviced. Our top tip would be to sharpen your mower blades because sharp blades produce a clear cut without tearing at the roots and this will help you achieve the bowling green inspired look.