Care Instructions for Warm Season Lawn Compost Top Dressing and Seeding

If we compost top dressed your warm season lawn…

After a compost top dressing, we recommend watering the entire area that was top dressed thoroughly the day of the top dressing and the day after the top dressing.

The magic question that we always get is “How long?” That is a tough question to answer.

Some folks have very efficient irrigation systems, others have sprinklers that are hooked up to a hose and others just walk around and hand water with a hose. All of those would require different lengths of time for watering.

What we are trying to accomplish with the watering is to get the compost wet from top to bottom. This will help do a few things.

  1. It helps to wash some of the compost into the aeration holes or low spots in the soil.
  2. It makes the compost tacky and stick together better so that if we get a thunderstorm it won’t just wash off.
  3. It activates all of the rich nutrients that are in the compost and makes it available for the grass to take up.

After the 1st couple of days you can back off on watering as long as we aren’t having crazy hot temps.

If we go 4-5 days without rain it would be a good idea to water it again.

The compost does have a little bit of a farm smell to it. The smell normally fades after a day or 2. The compost can also stick to shoes really well, so make sure you & your kids are taking off your shoes before entering the house. You can skip mowing the first week, but start mowing again as soon as needed.

If we seeded your warm season lawn…

Seeding warm season lawns in the spring is not always common but sometimes necessary.

Water daily for 2 weeks. The BIGGEST thing to remember with new seed is that once it gets wet for the first time it cannot dry out or the seed is dead! You can’t re-wet it and expect it to pop back into growing. If it dries out before it starts producing the green grass and the root starts developing into the soil then it is totally dead!

It’s hard to give an exact amount of time as to how long you should water each time. You need to monitor it and adjust based on weather conditions, such as how hot it is that day, is it cool that day, is it sunny or cloudy, how much water does your sprinkler put out, etc…

The 1st and 2nd day are usually the days that you have to water the longest. Your goal is to get the soil saturated. Once the soil and seed are saturated then you just have to keep it damp. Usually by the 3rd week you can back off on watering some, but we still recommend paying attention to weather conditions and watering at least every other day.

Even though you should have grass starting to come up by the 3rd week, the roots are tiny and barely in the soil at this point. They can dry out extremely fast if we have a day or 2 in the 90’s. You may have to be moving sprinklers around the yard. Be careful not to walk back and forth over the same new grass over and over. Take a different route to the water spigot, and try to limit kid or pet activities on newly seeded areas. 

If you have established grass that is growing faster than the new grass that is fine. If you have to mow you can. Reset your mowing height to 2-2 ½ inches. If you have minimal grass clippings you can leave them. However, if you have a lot of grass clippings you will want to remove them because they can smother the young, new grass.

DO NOT add more grass seed. NCSU has one of the best turf grass programs. They have done studies to find out how much seed should be used to get the best results when reseeding. We follow those recommendations. If you add too much seed to an area it may look good in the short term while the grass blades are really fine. But as the grass grows there is competition for root space, water needs and airflow. Ever had a good stand of grass in the spring when it is young and have it die out in the warm temps even hit? Chances are there was too much seed planted. 

Leapfrog Landcare