What to Do First: Reseeding or Top Dressing? – Spring-Green Lawn Care Tips

On Page Auger

Lawn Care Tips: Reseeding and Top Dressing

The following is a question-and-answer exchange between a homeowner and Harold Enger, the Director of Education at Spring-Green. Harold provides some expert tips on two important lawn care practices—reseeding and top dressing—and stresses the importance of doing them in the right order. He also addresses the best time to weed and feed.


“I planted about an acre of grass last spring. It has come in nicely, however, I do have a question. I would like to reseed and top dress the entire area. I would also like to “weed and feed”. Which should I do first and how long do I wait in between?”


Mr. Campbell,
Thank you for sending in your question. I am glad to read that you had good success in your seeding efforts last year. Top dressing is a good idea, especially if you have areas that have eroded or sunken over the last year. A good way to incorporate new seed into an existing lawn is to first core aerate the lawn. This will help to relieve any compaction issues, and it will also provide a good site for the seed to germinate. After aerating, it’s time for top dressing: spread either pulverized top soil or a good quality humus compost across the lawn. You don’t need much—about a quarter inch or so is adequate. Then, go ahead and reseed. Be sure to invest some money in the seed and get good quality, weed-free seed. There are numerous blends available. I am assuming that you used a bluegrass/ryegrass blend. I suggest that you use a mix of 20% bluegrass and 80% perennial ryegrass. The reason why I suggest more ryegrass is that it germinates in 5 to 7 days, whereas bluegrass takes 28 days to germinate. It is difficult for most homeowners to maintain adequate watering for 28 days unless they have a sprinkler system.

You will not be able to apply conventional crabgrass control products before or after reseeding, as they will prevent your new seed from germinating. In regards to broadleaf weeds, like dandelions and clover, you need to wait until the grass has germinated and has been mowed three times before applying that type of product. I do suggest you apply a fertilizer after seeding. I suggest you look for a product with an analysis of 14-14-14 or similar and supply about .75 to 1 pound of Nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. For that product, in a 50-lb. bag, you would apply about 5 to 6 pounds of product per 1,000 sq. ft. If your lawn area is an acre, then you would purchase between 5 and 6 50-lb. bags of a 14-14-14.

Looking for some additional lawn care tips?
You can ask Harold a question directly on his Ask the Expert blog.