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Top Dressing vs Loam - What is the difference?

Posted by Allan Morton - Turf Specialist on 14 February 2020 in News
Top Dressing vs Loam - What is the difference?

Whilst top dressing and loam appear to be very similar products, there are some crucial differences.

Top dressing is a mixture of Silica sand combined with quality topsoil. After being thoroughly mixed, the sand and soil blend is passed through a sterilising unit where it is heat treated to remove any bugs or weeds that may be present in the soil. After this process the top dressing is passed over a 3mm screen to remove any stones or lumps, producing an easy to spread top dressing. Normally top dressing will have two numbers on the label (typically 70/30) which refer to the sand and soil percentage present in the dressing; the first number is always the sand content, whilst the latter is always the content of soil.

Top dressing is usually used on lawns and bowling greens to improve the soil structure and provide better drainage which overall contributes to healthy grass. For bowling greens, using top dressing also helps create a level playing surface and protects any recently sown grass seed.

Loam, on the other hand, would never be used on a lawn due to its high clay content. In hot weather the loam will bake and become compacted, resulting in poor rooting for grass and bad drainage. However, loam is ideal for use on a cricket pitch as it is hard but grass will still grow in it. Cricket loam is quarried but doesn’t have any soil added. Similar to top dressing, loam is passed through a heat sterilising unit and then screened to 3mm to remove any bugs, weeds or stones.

There are many different types of cricket loam on the market, each with a different clay content. Typically the names of loams coincides with where the loam is quarried, for example Kettering Loam contains loam quarried in Kettering. The general rule with cricket loam is the higher the clay content the more likely you are to create a quality, hard, consistent wicket with a good bounce and carry.

Overall, the main difference between top dressing and cricket loam is the area they are used (top dressing on lawns and bowling greens and loam on cricket squares) and the presence of clay in loam and not in top dressing.

Take a look at our range of top dressing and loams here

If you have any questions or would like more information, email sales@agrigem.co.uk or call us on 01522 246491.

Allan Morton

Turf Specialist