Wellfield Fall Turf Practices, Part 2 of 5: Compost Topdressing

Last week we discussed how Wellfield Botanic Gardens aerates the turf. Once little gaping holes are opened through the blades of grass, the next step is to fill them with carbon, that is, black gold: compost. Wait, what? Compost in the grass? Who does that, right? I mean, putting compost in my flower or vegetable beds is one thing, but in my lawn?

Spreading compost upon thine green sward has many benefits, serving many purposes. Compost in Wellfield’s sandy, rocky soil retains a lot of moisture and I mean A LOT of moisture. Want to spend less money irrigating your lawn? Spread compost. You want to fertilize less because the fertilizer sticks around longer? Spread compost. Want to see maybe a few less weeds (providing it is properly turned compost)? Spread compost. You have clay or compacted soil and water is puddling? Spread compost. How much should I add, you ask? Just keep adding and I will tell you when to quit – or up to about an eighth of an inch thick.

There are several ways one can go about spreading compost, and all involve starting with mowing the grass shorter to ease the spreading process. There are a few commercial spreaders out there available for spreading compost. The simplest way is to load up your wheelbarrow or utility vehicle with compost and fling the black stuff around the yard. Believe me, it is great exercise! It is best to spread compost when the moisture content is low to prevent clogging the spread, or to make raking it out less of a bear.

Spreading compost after aeration allows the compost and fertilizer to quickly penetrate the root zone and become available to the grass for enrichment.

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Next up, seeding those bare patches. See you next week!

Josh Steffen
Horticulture Manager