Cover With Organic Material
Cover areas of clay soil with slower composting materials such as bark, sawdust, or ground wood chips. Use these organic materials for mulch,;and, as they break down, they will work themselves into the soil below. Working these larger and slower composting materials into the soil itself could cause harm to the plants you plan to grow in that space. You are better off just letting them work in naturally over a long period of time.
Deep Tilling Your Lawn Using A Heavy
If aeration doesnt solve the issues, you might need to go a little deeper. An industrial roto-tiller will go deeper and loosen up all the topsoil. Although this method effectively softens even the hardest soil, it has some downside. It completely flips over the soil; you will have to re-seed your lawn a small price to pay!
Claymend Helps Restructure Clay
The microbial activity encouraged by ClayMend helps restructure clay.; The fine particles that make clay dense join together into aggregates.; These larger sand and silt size particles help build the porous structure of the soil.; Since the fine particles are used to build the aggregates they are no longer available to surround these larger particles.; This soil structure is longer lasting than other amendments.
For your garden and lawn to remain healthy, more compost can be added in the soil or as a top dressing.; Mulching when mowing your lawn can also help.; Contact our experts today here at HumicGreen and let us help you create the rich organic soil gardeners and homeowners dream about.
You May Like: How To Control Moles In Your Lawn
How To Loosen Compacted Soil And Improve Your Lawn
Compacted soil is the slow-moving freight train accident of lawn problems. It doesnt happen all at once, but it just gradually chugs along, spreading toxic chemicals around the train tracks and causing traffic snarls for miles around.
Oh, wait. Thats a freight train accident. Compacted soil might not be quite that bad, but its still a big problem for your lawn. Runoff can end up in your basement, and the grass can be, well, less green than the grass on the other side of the street.
Heres what you need to know about compacted soil, how to prevent it, and how to fix it when it happens.
In This Article:
Improving Clay Soil With Gypsum
You can overcome compacted clay soil and get it back on track for normal garden and lawn growth by improving it with proper materials.
You can add gypsum, composted leaves, pine bark, or organic compost to your clay soil to eliminate compaction and drainage problems and to improve its structure.
Gypsum is a perfect amendment for relieving compaction and fixing the soil structure of the existing lawn.
You can apply it with a lawn spreader, and it will start working immediately, correcting soil conditions, increasing water penetration, and loosening compacted clay soil to allow for healthier plant root growth.
Gypsum also adds sulfur and calcium, which are essential plant nutrients, to your clay soil. Moreover, it does not affect the pH of the soil.
Don’t Miss: How To Fix Patches In Lawn
How To Improve Clay Soil For Lawns
Amending Clay Soil For Lawns
To improve clay soil for lawns, you will need to apply organic matter by a process called topdressing. ;Topdressing is generally performed once or maybe twice a year in some cases. For correct topdressing you apply a thin layer of organic matter over your grass. Applying a layer of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick usually works best depending on the mowed height of the grass. Up to 1 inch may work for grasses maintained at 3 or more inches. If you completely cover the grass with compost growth may be restricted and the grass will suffer.
It helps greatly to core aerate the lawn before topdressing. Core aeration pulls out a plug of soil approximately ¾ inches wide by 3 inches long. Pass the aerator over the grass several times in different directions. It will seem like you are over-aerating, but you are not. If the soil is largely clay, remove the cores before topdressing. Once you begin top dressing, allow the organic matter to fill the holes. This gets the amendment down into the soil instead of only on the surface.
Using ;Soil Amendments For Large Areas
Sand and Compost
Recommended Soil Amendment Materials
Compost, or humus, is decomposed plant material. It makes an excellent organic amendment for clay soils.
Using Lawn Sand On Clay Lawns
Sand is not the best option for topdressing your lawn. It should only be used to fix heavy thatch build-up, cover exposed tree roots or level low areas.
Applying sand can cause your lawn to lose its fertility. Sand particles do not retain any nutrients and minerals, so it is better to use fine compost instead.
Another common mistake that many gardeners make is applying sand too heavily, which leads to the death of grass. Besides, many homeowners also make the mistake of using sand to fix clay soil.
However, you should not do that, as adding sand to such soil often creates a cement-like effect, instead of loosening it up.
Don’t Miss: Can You Spray Your Lawn For Ticks
How To Fix Sorry Soils
Do you have bare spots in your yard? You might call these areas of poor soil sorry soil, because they are sorry examples of what good soils should look like. Life on earth depends on that upper layer of soil because it nurtures the growth of plants, filters our water, and provides habitat for a wide range of living organisms. Soil and plants go together, but when the soil gives out, the plants go away, and we end up with sorry soil.
Soil becomes sorry when it is abused or neglected. Abuse can take the form of stripping off the top soil and leaving the clay subsoil. Perhaps its caused by compaction, when heavy equipment, cars, or even excessive foot traffic causes soils to pack down and become impervious. Neglect usually takes the form of soil erosion, when top soil is left unprotected by vegetative cover and washes away in heavy rainfall events. Soils can also suffer from nutrient deficiencies when they are over cropped or not replenished with lime and fertilizer when needed.
Using Grass Clippings As Mulch
Putting mulch around grass, trees, shrubs, vegetables, and flowers may help to maintain the soil temperature, conserve water, and reduce weeds. Grass clippings are a great mulch option with some conditions:
- Consult the label of the herbicide product you use to treat your lawn for any concerns related to using grass clippings as mulch.
- Using grass clippings as mulch may harm your lawn if you have recently treated it with the herbicide for broadleaf weeds such as dandelions.
- The anaerobic decomposition of grass clippings that takes place when oxygen is limited often leads to the production of offensive odors.
- Avoid using wet grass clippings since they can mat down, preventing moisture and oxygen from getting down into the clay soil.
- Never apply more than three inches of clippings at one time.
Recommended Reading: When To Put Weed Killer On Lawn
Determining Your Soil Type
Besides professional soil testing labs, there are several simple home tests to determine the ratio of clay, silt and sand in the soil. One test is to place a spoonful of soil in the palm of one hand, as demonstrated in this FineGardening.com article. Mix the soil with enough water to form a ball. Then roll it between both hands to make a snake. The more clay, the thinner the snake can be rolled. Sandy soil is difficult to form into a ball and will quickly fall apart when rolled. Silty soil will feel slippery like clay, but will not hold together when rolled.
A better way of determining your clay content is the simple Jar Test. It just requires simply filling a quart jar with one-third soil and two-thirds water. Shake the mixture and set it undisturbed a few hours. Undecomposed organic matter will float to the top. The soil will settle into three distinct layers: sand on the bottom, silt in the middle and clay on top.
There’s No Break For People Who Garden In Clay
CORVALLIS – When you walk about your yard on a wet day, do your shoes stick in the mud? Could you make ceramic pots out of the soil in your garden? Odds are you have clay soil, one of the biggest challenges to the home gardener.
Finely textured clay soils are difficult to work up and develop into a good seedbed. If the clay is dry, it tends to be very hard and lumpy. If it is wet, it tends to be very sticky and difficult to manipulate. It seems like a gardener’s nightmare.
But clay soils have their attributes, says Linda Brewer, teaching assistant in the Department of Soil Science at Oregon State University.
“Clay soils hold huge amounts of plant nutrients because they have elevated cation exchange capacities,” said Brewer. This means they are able to hold on to nutrients, fertilizer and pesticides.
Another plus for clay soils is that they hang onto water really well.
“Clay soils hold huge amounts of water at very high tensions because the spaces between the clay particles are so fine,” explained Brewer. “The largest clay particle is more than 1,000 times smaller than the smallest sand particle.”
The best way to improve clay soils is to mix organic materials thoroughly with existing soil, explained Brewer.
Bark, sawdust, manure, leaf mold, compost and peat moss are among the organic amendments commonly used to improve clay soil. Two or three inches of organic materials should be spread and rototilled, forked or dug into the top six or seven inches of your garden beds.
Don’t Miss: Do You Need To Aerate Your Lawn
How To Permanently Improve Drainage In Your Yard
When it comes to tackling waterlogging in a yard, a permanent fix may be the best solution. The options include installing an underground drainage pipe or installing a French drain. Before you decide which solution to try, draw a drainage plan of your yard. Use a line and a builders level to discover the lowest and highest spots, and mark the places where the water flows and where puddles and pools appear.
An underground drainage pipe effectively transfers water from the lowest point of your yard to an outlet. Check with your local government office about relevant regulations before building a drainage pipe that discharges into a storm drain or the street. Dig a trench from the lowest point in your yard to the outlet, so the trench will slope at a rate of about 1/8 inch per foot. Install an inlet catch basin at the center of the lowest point and attach it to a smooth drainpipe that runs all the way to the outlet before filling in the trench with soil.
Soil And Site Preparation For Lawns
Properly preparing the soil is critical to the success of home lawns.
Success or failure of a home lawn is closely tied into how well the soil and site was prepared prior to lawn establishment.
Eliminating weed problems existing on the site is an important first step. Perennial weeds, such as quackgrass or tall fescue, need to be controlled prior to lawn seeding or sodding. Weed control options include digging by hand, repeated soil tillage or using a systemic nonselective herbicide, such as glyphosate, sold as Roundup and other trade names. Organic products are becoming more popular as well. Read, understand, and follow all label directions whenever using any type of control product to be sure you will be getting the expected level of control necessary.
Before seeding or sodding, it’s important to thoroughly work the soil. Amend poor soils, such as heavy clay, by adding organic matter. Sources include compost, rotted manure, peat, and quality topsoil. Sand is not suggested as a material to improve clay soils for home lawns.
When preparing the soil, it’s important to establish a favorable final grade. Rough grading should include removal of any rock or other debris. Avoid burying construction debris, as this could cause problems for the grass later. Eliminate any depressions or raised areas. Final slopes should be one to two percent away from buildings to assure good surface drainage.
In this section : Planting and Maintenance
Don’t Miss: How To Test Lawn Soil Ph Level
Avoid Walking In The Beds
After all the work youve done to improve your clay soil, the last thing you should do is walk in the garden bed and cause compaction all over again.
Garden soil is very expensive when you think about all of the time youve taken to improve it, purchase soil amendments, and collect and disperse organic material.
Create garden beds narrow enough that you dont have to walk in them to manage all sides.
When I started gardening, 4-foot-wide beds were a great size for making the best use of space in my small garden. But I quickly learned how frustrating it was to not be able to reach all areas easily. Ive settled on three feet wide as my favorite bed size for my personal reach.
Whichever size bed you decide on, be sure you dont have to step on your rich, pampered soil.
As you can see, even though heavy clay soil can be frustrating, there are a lot of ways to improve it so you can garden with ease and grow crops that thrive.
Clay Soil Can Provide An Excellent Foundation For Healthy Plant Growth
Clay’s potential as one of the best soil types for plant growth lies in its unique properties. The individual particles that make up your clay are extremely small compared to other soil types such as sand, silt or loam.1 Thanks to the surface area of all those small particles, clay soil has a greater capacity to hold water and nutrients your lawn and garden needs. Managed well, clay soil typically requires less irrigation and less fertilizer, and leads to healthier plants all around.
Even if you’re certain you have heavy clayand have the clods on your boots and tools to prove ittake time to test your soil;before you make changes. A soil test takes the guesswork out of your starting point, so well-intentioned soil work doesn’t backfire and make things worse. If you’re new to soil sampling, your local county extension agent;can help with advice and soil testing kits.
Your test results and recommendations can include ways to improve your clay soil, along with helpful information about your soil’s organic matter, pH and nutrients. In areas with heavy clay, it’s a good idea to test your soil every three to four years.1
Amending your soil with organic matter helps improve its structure.
Recommended Reading: How Much To Pay Teenager To Mow Lawn
Aerate To Improve Drainage
Annual aeration is a vital part of lawn care, especially if you have clay soil.
Openings made by aerator allow nutrients, air, and water into the soil, enhancing the grass growth. Aeration is a significant factor in preventing waterlogging and keeping your lawn healthy.
The primary benefit of aerating compacted soil are as follows:
- Aeration increases the uptake of minerals and vitamins.
- It helps to improve lawn drainage and water absorption.
- Aeration stimulates new root growth.
Add Gypsum To The Clay Soil
Gypsum is naturally occurring calcium sulfate that you can use to break up heavily compacted clay soil in your lawn. When added to the soil, gypsum improves the texture by making the fine particles come together to make larger particles with improved drainage and aeration.
To improve clay soil using gypsum, apply 1 kilogram of gypsum per square meter of your yard and dig it well into the top 15 centimeters. Mix it well so that the soluble calcium can enhance the porosity and aggregation of the clay soils and improve air and water infiltration.
Pro tip:;Clay soils are highly nutritious. If you opt to use gypsum to improve the soil for your lawn, avoid applying too much of it. Too much gypsum can eliminate essential nutrients including aluminum, manganese, and iron.
Also Check: What Time Of Day Is Best To Water Lawn
How To Drain Heavy Clay Yards
Heavy clay soil quickly becomes waterlogged in wet weather, particularly in low-lying yards. This spells trouble for turfgrass and many garden plants, which cant survive waterlogging for long periods of time. Building raised beds, adding organic matter and growing cover crops alleviate the problem to an extent. However, if you want to preserve your vegetable patch, garden trees, flowerbeds or lawn, sometimes, the only effective option is to install drainage.
Amending Clay Soil With Gypsum
Gypsum is a common amendment for clay soil. Gypsum is the common name for calcium sulfate. Gypsum is sometimes used in clay soils high in salinity. The calcium can help to leach the salt from the soil and lessen the dispersion. Most clay soils have adequate calcium already present and the positive effects from gypsum can be short-lived. Improving the quantity of humus in the soil will give you better results long term.
Also Check: How Often Should Fertilize Your Lawn
How Does Adding Compost Help Break Up And Improve Clay Soil
When you add compost to the soil the microbes and bacteria in the soil break the compost down into its basic building blocks, called humus.
Humus coats the soil particles lessening the cohesion and electrical charges that hold them together. Humus also feeds the bacteria and microorganisms; and it stimulates an increased population and activity of those good, helpful bacteria and microorganisms.
For healthy soil, we need to keep the soil at least 5% humus.
The actual restructuring of the soil is the result of a healthy population of bacteria and microorganisms. Healthy bacteria in the soil feed on the humus, and they are the active component that loosens the soil and creates air pockets for water and roots to move throughout.
Harsh conditions in the soil like herbicides and excess salts can hinder healthy biology, which slows down the composting of organic matter into humus.