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Old 03-02-2012, 08:30 PM
1,955 posts, read 5,195,912 times
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I haven't put dillo dirt down before, how do you know how many yards you need? how much do you put down?
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:57 PM
Location: Avery Ranch, Austin, TX
7,700 posts, read 12,487,676 times
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D, if you haven't committed to the actual dillo, I'd take a look at some others. The 'dillo' can be pretty nasty until it works in, particularly when wet. I've also had neighbors tell me of prolific weed outbreaks after applying the stuff. With dillo or other 'topdressing amendments', I'm told we should shoot for 1/4 to 1/2"...just enough to make the area a dark color, but nothing should stand proud of the grass that's already there. Good luck I've known neighbors to use anywhere from 5-15 yards of top dressing, usually every other year.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:19 PM
1,955 posts, read 5,195,912 times
Reputation: 565
What other options should I look into?
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:53 AM
Location: Avery Ranch, Austin, TX
7,700 posts, read 12,487,676 times
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Ask your landscape supplier about 'sweet' top dressing(not sweet in the acid/alkaline sense, but sweet as in 'fine'). In a generic sense, it's finer and contains less 'bad stuff' like seeds for weeds and big chunks of 'wood'. Kind of like dillo dirt without all the yucky stuff(sewage sludge). It's more of a top dressing and filler, less of a fertilizer. Various suppliers will give it proprietary names; but essentially you are looking for a 'fine' topper or top soil.

The following article is a bit on the conspiracy theory side of the ledger; but it brings up some interesting information regarding dillo dirt...
Austin's Dirty Secret: Dillo Dirt | The Austin Cut

This isn't our year to top-dress the lawn, so I haven't talked with anyone about this year's 'crop' of topsoils. I know a lot of what folks order as 'composted top soil' ends up looking like slightly finer that usual mulch...NOT what I want to spread on my lawn. There are chunks of bark and wood fiber that won't break down in this decade .

If the Grass Patch is still up and running, you might drop by there and see what's what. If they don't actually sell top soil, they likely would know of a reputable source. Good luck!

By the bye, if it's a small area to be top-dressed, I'd check in with Red Barn, Natural Gardener or someone similar...
Natural Gardener: Bulk Soils, Compost, Mulches > Our Bulk Soils
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Old 03-03-2012, 11:25 AM
Location: Austin, TX
16,678 posts, read 38,245,624 times
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Several lawn care companies and the Natural Gardener recommend against dillo dirt because of the weed seed and other chemicals it can contain. Natural Gardener recommends their Revitalizer Compost for top dressing lawns. They will deliver bulk loads. I'd probably plan on around 1/4 to 1/2 inch considering that parts of it will filter down into the grass.
Basic calculations, Square or Rectangle
: length (in feet) x width (in feet) x depth (in inches) / 324 = cubic yards.

Here is some other good advice on top dressing lawns, including getting them ready to do so, i.e. core aerate and dethatch.


Last edited by CptnRn; 03-03-2012 at 11:41 AM..
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:02 AM
1 posts, read 7,841 times
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hi all,

Forgive me if my questions sounds too novice.
I'm new to landscaping, recently moved to Round Rock area and settled in a typical neigbhood. The yard has St. Augustin and another type which I can't tell (finer leaves) and over all doesn't look extermely 'healthy' with some patchy areas (no grass, just dead roots).

Talked to few people around and they suggested put down dilo dirt and order it by the truck load. Apparently that's what few of the folks around been doing every year. So has a few questions since I saw some of the posts here:
(1) which supplier around Round Rock that's reasonable (cost wise) in terms of buying dirt by the bulk, deliver charge (I don't have a pickup but could rent one from Home Depot), and quality
(2) judging from the posts here, dilo dirt may not be 'good' for this application? Essentially, I want to build up the lawn plus the ground looks like parts of the yard is not really 'level' and has dips in them.

Thanks in advance
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:44 AM
Location: Cedar Park, Texas
1,593 posts, read 2,306,337 times
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We were also thinking about putting some Dillo Dirt down over our St. Augustine grass (that was laid without any topsoil being put down) but I've been squeamish about it, knowing where it comes from AND seeing neighbors who've put it down on their bermuda and had tons of weeds afterwards. I'm thinking now I may just get plain old topsoil and put down, along with plenty of fertilizer to feed the grass. Our situation sounds just like what courtroom74 describes his/hers to be.
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Old 03-05-2012, 01:17 PM
Location: Avery Ranch, Austin, TX
7,700 posts, read 12,487,676 times
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We have a few landscape pros living in Avery Ranch and the discussion of top dressing is currently on our message boards. One pro had this to say about Dillo Dirt...YMMV and all that:
I wanted to let people know who are considering dillo dirt for your lawns to do a little research on this product. Obviously it comes from sewage and collections from the lawn bags you leave at the curb for the city of Austin, but there is also quite a bit of research now showing evidence of excess pharmaceutics as well. ]Personally , I do not use Dillo as after the first time I used it many years back for a customer who requested it I was choked by the smell, found unmentionables in the dirt and having found great results with compost for the same or similar price, it just didn't seem worth it. It is not recommended for yards with children or pets and should never be used near or around fruit trees or veggie beds.
If you are taking bids on spreading compost on your lawn, trying to figure out how much compost you need for your own lawn, or preparing new beds. The local landscape suppliers can help you calculate the numbers. Simply questimate the sq footage of your lawn and request a depth of 1/2" and they will tell you how many yards you need. If you are preparing beds, you measure the length and width of your beds and ask for a depth of 4-6" and they will calculate it for you. Whittelsey in Round Rock charges $70.00 for a delivery to Avery, they dump it in your driveway and you can wheel barrow it to the lawn or new beds. They have a product I love to use called "Living Mulch". this is 50% compost 50% shredded mulch. For your new beds, this is a great mixture.
For your lawns, mushroom or organic compost can also be purchased in bulk. If you have a tiny lawn like mine, or even a medium sized one, 40 lb bags of organic compost can be purchased at the Lowes for your convenience. Spread thin, soft rake in and water ;-
Finally if you are taking bids on materials such as rock or mulch, a good average for local stone and mulch is about 40 a yard (about 10x15 area at 2" deep). This will help you figure out how you might be creative with some of those trouble spots in the lawn you are trying to find alternatives for.

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa's Landscape & Design

I've not worked with Lisa, but she's been in Avery Ranch for years. She does lean toward organic and native solutions to 'our' landscaping challenges while another full-time landscape professional in Avery Ranch sells and installs Dillo Dirt every year. Different strokes, as they say
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Old 03-05-2012, 01:22 PM
Location: central Austin
6,909 posts, read 12,169,142 times
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Organic compost is the best choice!
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