Healthy soils are the basis for healthy lawns. If your lawn is out of whack, you can almost guarantee that your turfgrass will be having problems as well.
Healthy soils have millions of beneficial organisms living in that top layer. Many of these beneficial organisms keep harmful organisms in check and that balance remains relatively constant until some well meaning individual decides to treat a sick lawn with a fungicide that may or may not treat a particular disease. However, what most likely happens is that all the beneficial organisms are killed and the soil becomes a sterile wasteland.
Read more about healthy soils
Some soils are more susceptible to compaction that others. Those soils with excess moisture or excess clay are easily compacted.
Compaction is when the small airspaces are forced out, preventing oxygen from reaching the beneficial organisms living in the soil.
Compaction makes it very difficult for root growth and top growth of grass.
Correcting compaction is a vital step in developing a healthy soil that crowds out weeds, reduces diseases, and is better able to withstand drought conditions.
Compaction is improved through several important steps:
Adding Organic Matter
Soil Aeration Treatment
Top dressing your lawn is really a big jump start to improving your soil. The thin layer of top-dressing adds a lot of natural organic matter into the top layer of soil. In time, this layer will develop into several inches of good friable loam that will provide ideal growing conditions for your lawn.
QUESTION: So what's the big deal about all those little microbes that you'd have to have a microscope to even see?
ANSWER: Everything that you can see in your back yard, including your lawn, depends heavily on what those microbes are doing just under the surface.
Those microbes are busy eating, digesting, and excreting chemical compounds that are found in the soil. After going through this process, those elements are now in a soluble form that can be absorbed by the plants roots. The microbes are a critical link from fertilizer to nutrient to cell growth.
You can read more about how fertilizers are converted into nutrients that can be used by the plant to build new cells.
Thatch is a layer of living and dead organic matter that occurs between the green matter and the soil surface.
Thatch is a build up of dead roots, lawn debris and dead turfgrass crowns. It accumulates as these plant parts buildup faster than they breakdown.
What doesn't add to thatch is lawn clippings. Lawn clippings are made up of about 90% water.
As thatch levels accumulate to greater than 1/2", lawn problems may begin, and the thatch needs to be controlled.
More about thatch buildup...