Topsoil Vs Compost For Planting Grass Seed | Which Should I Use & When?

As the weather starts to warm up towards the end of Winter/beginning of Spring, most people start looking at the state of their yard and gardens thinking about what they want to do for the upcoming summer.

When it comes to the yard, a beautiful carpet of lush, green grass makes any home look fantastic, but what is the secret to having a beautiful, green grass yard?

Well... part of the secret to having a beautiful yard is to make sure that the grass has all of the nutrients that it needs in order to be that vibrant color of green. Because if you have a yard that is covered in bright green grass, then you have a healthy, strong yard that, not only looks great but is also going to be able to fight off diseases that may make lesser grass yards turn brown or not grow to their full potential.

A couple of the tactics that you can use to supply all of the nutrients that your grass needs to be healthy and green is rich in compost and topsoil. The question then becomes.... how do I choose topsoil vs compost for grass seed? Well... Read on to get some great information that you can use to make the best decision

What is Top Soil?

As the name implies, topsoil is the very top layer of the ground. It is actually the top 10 inches of the ground.It is very nutrient-rich and is full of great minerals that plants, flowers, and grass can use to grow and be beautiful. Because topsoil erodes due to wind and rain, it is pretty standard for most gardeners to purchase topsoil. There are several grades of topsoil available.

1. Premium - Sand, clay, and organic materials, such as composted manure, make up this grade, which is the most expensive. Plants, beds, and gardens can all benefit from their fertile, nutrient-rich properties.

2. General-Purpose - The soil in this grade has been screened to remove stones and debris. Besides landscaping, it can also be used for planting beds.

3. Economy - This product is the least expensive, but offers the lowest quality topsoil. Because there isn't any screening of rocks and stones that go into this product, it is best utilized to level land or build up an area of ground. Due to the potential for rocks and stones, this grade should not be used for beds.

There are also three different types of topsoil, characterized by their material makeup, and they each have specific uses.

The first type is Clay soil. Clay soil is useful for adding to areas that need to hold water for a longer period of time. The clay holds water very well for a longer period of time, so you would want to use clay topsoil in an area that gets a lot of water, and if you decide to use clay topsoil, you are going to be able to go for a longer period of time without water.

The second type is Loam topsoil. Loam soil is made by mixing together clay, sand, silt as well as other organic materials. Loam is the best type of topsoil to use for lawns because it incorporates all of the best features of the other type of soils with the additional nutritional value from the added organics.

The third type of topsoil is Sandy soil. Sandy soil is great for adding drainage. Sandy soil does not hold water for long, so you are going to need to water more often, any plants that are growing in sandy soil. Obviously, you would not want to use sandy soil in an area that does not get a lot of water.

There are many benefits of adding topsoil to your lawn, but the best benefit is that by layering the lawn with topsoil, you'll be enabling the grass to absorb all of those nutrients into the root system. This will, in addition to ensuring that the grass maintains a beautiful green color and lush texture, allow the grass to become very resistant to drought and bugs.

What is Compost?

Compost is the fertilizer that is used for plants that are made from decayed organic material, like leaves, grass trimmings, etc. Because it is decayed organic material, it is very rich in minerals and other beneficial organisms like worms, etc.

Compost is generally used to improve the fertility of the soil in landscaping and horticulture by providing high-quality minerals and organisms for plants, flowers, and grasses. Compost can be created from pretty much any organic material; however, there are three main types of compost.

The first is wood compost. Wood compost is made from bark, dead limbs, sticks, and wood chippings that have been left to rot. Thanks to bacteria breaking down the wood, it eventually becomes a wood "dust" that is full of nutrients and bacterial organisms.

The second type is green compost. This is the type that most people think of when they think of compost. It is composed of garden waste as well as food scraps, and the third type is manure.

 Manure compost is very beneficial to grass and other plants due to the large number of nutrients that are in it from the hay, straw, and plants that cows eat.

Compost Vs Topsoil?

I really don't think of a compost vs topsoil debate because the best course of action really is to use them both simultaneously. The plants and the grass benefit by having a lot of beneficial nutrients introduced into the root systems.

The type of nutrients is even more broad-spectrum if both are used simultaneously because the nutritional profile will be much more enhanced by using a combination of compost and topsoil where you may end up in a situation where the grass is not getting enough nutritional value from just topsoil or from just compost.

Again, the trick is to use both together in order to really get the most bang for the buck. When using topsoil and compost for a new lawn, whether seed or sod, the best results are going to be obtained by using a mixture that is 5:1, which is 5 parts topsoils mixed with 1 part compost. By using that mixture you are sure to get all of the nutritional value that the grass needs without any concern that the grass might be overloaded.

When Should I Use Compost?

The best time to use compost is pretty much the same as when to use topsoil, which is very early Spring and during the Fall. Compost can be used in the Summer as well for some applications; however, in general, it is best to use compost in the Spring and Fall because that is the best time of the year for all of the microbes in the compost to do their thing so that the grass or garden plants will benefit the most.

Like most other organisms, microbes tend to not be as active in very hot weather as they are in warm weather. What is comfortable for you, is also comfortable for the microbes. Additionally, since compost contains so much nutritional value for the plants and grass, any area of growth that needs an extra infusion of minerals is a candidate for compost.

One thing to keep in mind is drainage. Because compost doesn't drain well, you may not want to add much compost to any area that has a drainage problem.

When Should I Use Top Soil?

When you use topsoil depends completely on the project, but it is versatile and can be used for a variety of applications. Topsoil can be used for lawns, gardens, and for drainage. However, since the focus of the article is lawns, let's discuss how you would use them for your lawn.

Topsoil is great for lawns because it has so many uses for grass. For example, topsoil can be used to reinvigorate and rejuvenate a damaged or depressed lawn. It can also be used to raise the level of an area of the lawn so that it is even with the rest of the yard. If you are growing grass from seeds, all that you need to do is to lay down a one-inch layer of topsoil, and then, using a rake, work the seeds into the topsoil.

If you have a new area and are trying to get some growth established and you either know or suspect that the existing layer of soil may not have a nutrient profile that is going to provide enough support for new growth, then topsoil is a great choice.

Is compost or Top Soil Better for Grass Seed?

As far as seeding goes, whether reseeding or over seeding, the best strategy is going to be to apply a layer of topsoil 2-4 inches deep before you lay down the seed. After you have put down the seed and worked the seed in with a rake, then you may want to top off the seeds with a thin layer of compost. This then layer will provide additional nutrition, but will also ensure that the seeds do not wash away or are blown away.

How Can I Make Grass Seed Grow Successfully?

1. Use a lawn spreader or a mechanical seeder for large areas in order to ensure that the seeds are distributed evenly. For small areas or patches, spread it by hand. Just make sure that it is evenly distributed.

2. Cover the seeds with topsoil and a layer of mulch or compost to prevent them from blowing or being washed away.

3. Saturate the new area of seeds with water. Use the mist setting on your garden hose to really get the area wet. Do not overwater, but make sure that the area does not dry out either.

4. Do not walk on the area while the new growth is being established... Try to keep pets away from the area if possible.

Wrapping Up

Using compost and/or topsoil for grass seed is not really all that difficult because they both have their place in the garden. They both work well for certain applications, but they both can be used together as well. It really does depend on what your project is and what you are trying to accomplish.

The important thing to take away from this is to make sure that you understand compost and topsoil. Go to the garden center and ask questions to get information on the best composts and topsoil that you need in order to create a beautiful lawn and garden for your home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.