Compost topdressing

Zone 5A, Rhode Island, Very sunny lot.
Does anyone have experience topdressing their lawn with compost? Can I do it now? Does it help? What should I know???
I've got a typical builders lot with typical lousy soil I've tried to amend over the years. Tilling the lawn is out of the question. I've read that applying a topdress of compost would really help the soil.
Opinions, thoughts, advice please. I am also trying to switch to a more organic fertilizer program as well, so any help would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time.
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wrote:

My Dad would say till it and annual Rye for a few years. Turned in. I'd say shrink it and plant perennials. My wife would say the kids needed a lawn but just as long as the impatients prosper OK. My kids say why not a larger path to the grill. My UPS guy says can I have a few of your plants .
Bill who is sort of going towards more arable.
arable adj : (of farmland) capable of being farmed productively [syn: , , ]
--
Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA

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Hahaha, you gave me a great idea! Thanks!
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Bhogi wrote:

Have you had a professional soil analysis performed? It's difficult to fix something until you know for sure what's wrong with it.
--
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--John
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I have top dressed lawns. There's a knack to throwing a shovelful evenly over the lawn. One year I used mushroom compost (mostly rotted horse manure) and regret to say I had an enormous weed issue. You can use compost at any time.
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Sounds like you need topsoil. compost is something done with organic matter to produce humus... compost is a verb. You can top dress with topsoil but humos makes the best top dressing... depending on size of the area and how much money you can budget you can also top dress with a blend of top soil, humus, peat moss, cow manure, etc. But you can't top dress with compost, compost is something you do (a verb), not something you use.. if your organic matter is not fully composted than it's mulch, not somthing good to apply to a lawn.
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wrote:

Sounds like you need topsoil. compost is something done with organic matter to produce humus... compost is a verb. You can top dress with topsoil but humos makes the best top dressing... depending on size of the area and how much money you can budget you can also top dress with a blend of top soil, humus, peat moss, cow manure, etc. But you can't top dress with compost, compost is something you do (a verb), not something you use.. if your organic matter is not fully composted than it's mulch, not somthing good to apply to a lawn.
My dictionary, and several others I checked on line, give compost as both a noun and a verb - as below.
Brian
Definition: 1.. \Com"post\ (?; 277), n.[OF. compost, fr. L. compositus, p. p. See .] 1. A mixture; a compound. [R.]
A sad compost of more bitter than sweet. --Hammond.
2. (Agric.) A mixture for fertilizing land; esp., a composition of various substances (as muck, mold, lime, and stable manure) thoroughly mingled and decomposed, as in a compost heap.
And do not spread the compost on the weeds To make them ranker. --Shak.
2.. \Com"post\, v. t. 1. To manure with compost.
2. To mingle, as different fertilizing substances, in a mass where they will decompose and form into a compost.
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I just came in from spreading compost on my lawn. There's a knack to throwing it with a shovel so there's a layer, or just spread it with a rake.
I put a pile in between my roses. If the compost sprouts weeds at least they'll be in easy reach. After it sits for a few weeks I'll spread it around the roses better.
Good luck.
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I use a shovel to throw compost in place, and then use the pointy side of a "landscape rank" to spread it out, and then I turn the landscape rank upside down and use the flat side to "smoothen" the compost. Honestly, I only do this if I have a lot of compost/top-soil to top dress the lawn. If I only have a few left to spread around (after I have used most in the vegetable/flower garden), I will simply use the shovel to throw them out as wide as possible.
The way mentioned above seems like more appropriate for top dressing lawn with top soil because top soil is easier to spread. If you use compost, you may have to screen it to get the fine stuff; otherwise, compost can be chunky and is hard to spread. And screening the compost can be very physically exhausting if you want to get a large quantity of compost for top dressing the whole lawn. Therefore, you may be better off top dressing using top soil instead of compost. I have done this before (screening and top dressing lawn with compost); but only for a small area. I cannot imagine doing this for the entire lawn.
If you really want to add organic matters into the lawn, you may be better off using a mulching mower (instead of bagging the grass clippings), and applying organic fertilizer, and staying away from using insecticide to save the earthworms. Since I have started doing mulching, I feel that the rich top soil layer of my lawn has grown deeper (used to be very very thin) based on my sampling around the lawn using a soil prong. Doing this probably costs you less, makes you less tiring, uses up less of your time. Now, I only top dress if I need to re-seed small areas in my lawn.
Hope this helps.
Jay Chan
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We us certified organic mushroom soil and screened leaf compost to top dress.
It would be a food source for the soil.
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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I also started with a typical builder's lawn. I've topdressed with compost several times. Here's a few tips - do it early in the season before the grass gets too tall - if the grass is already growing, mow short before doing it. You don't want the compost to smother the blades - core aerate if possible before doing it. Then the compost will fall loosely into the empty holes and you get the compost a little deeper into the ground - make sure your compost is well composted. There's some stuff that's more like ground up wood chps mixed with municipal sludge and then speed composted (this comes from the beechwood chips from the Budweiser plant in Merrimack, NH). This stuff was too "hot" (and a bit smelly). - smoothing out the compost and getting the blades of grass to stick up can be very tedious. There's a very simple device that's used on golf courses after sand is spread. It's basically a bunch of 2x3s or 2x4s (maybe 2 or 3ft long) that is tied together into a mat with spaces between the wood (kind of like a venetian blind). It's dragged around behind a tractor or by hand. You can also do this if you have an old piece of chain link fence.
-al sung Rapid Realm Technology, Inc. Hopkinton, MA (Zone 6a)
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