View Full Version : Tilling in sand by Ask This Old House

11-02-2012, 10:43 AM
I came across the program a few days ago and the Landscape fella was tilling up the lawn, but I didn't find out what kind of soil it was... did anyone else see it and know what the natural soil was???

Nevertheless, when he was done tilling,,, he had the h.o. spread out a 50/50 mix of sand and compost about 2" thick, over the entire area, then till it again... The comment he made about "Why" he's doing so, was about water-holding capacity and drainage... then came the sod...

If this was a clay soil,,, was the program giving out really bad advice???

11-02-2012, 09:19 PM
I don't think adding sand to clay would be helpful.

greenstar lawn
11-02-2012, 09:31 PM
I saw the episode and was a bit confused
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Patriot Services
11-03-2012, 07:51 AM
The core he pulled showed a compacted clay base. They used a sodcutter to remove the grass in a thin layer. They then tilled about 4 inches to loosen the soil. Then they added two inches of fifty fifty sand compost and retilled. Starter fert and lime were spread before a light final grade rake. KBG fescue was laid. All in all it was a proper sod job that should turn out well. The problem I see was the original failed from heavy kid play on it. If you are looking for a perfect patch of grass it was done pretty good.
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11-03-2012, 09:40 AM
OK, so it was clay... thanks...

I wonder if they'll ever do an episode on one of the garden shows about 'Why', this works... and 'why' it doesn't turn into concrete or adobe under the sod...

They must be aware of the controversy surrounding the mixture...

Did they show the heavy kid playing on the original lawn??? :)

Patriot Services
11-03-2012, 02:46 PM
It was more than one kid. More like 5 or 6 playing sports all day. That's gonna take a toll no matter what they do.
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11-03-2012, 10:23 PM
I watch all the This old houses and Ask this old house's..whether you agree or disagree with what Roger Cook does he is usually thorough...kind of suprised he didn't roll the lawn for good soil contact and eliminate air pockets.

Patriot Services
11-04-2012, 07:41 AM
I stopped rolling a couple years ago. Properly butting the edges is more important IMO. Dragging the roller around can disturb the seams and move the sod piece around. I step on each piece so I doubt there is any air under it.
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11-04-2012, 09:16 AM
So it is pretty much a consensus that Roger was perfectly correct in mix sand and clay... it does work w/out forming adobe, after all... :)

Patriot Services
11-04-2012, 10:07 AM
Nope, no adobe cement was created.
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11-04-2012, 10:44 AM
Nope, no adobe cement was created.
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So Roger's solution to clay soil, was to form adobe cement under the sod???

That's why the program was broadcast, with those details???

11-04-2012, 11:00 AM
Any professional who looks to shows like this for information is a fool. I briefly looked through the "steps" he outlines and there are multiple problems with both his methods and advice.

Patriot Services
11-04-2012, 11:07 AM
Sure he could have just scalped and dropped. That would have given validation to 90% of the so called sod installers out there. It didn't look like he churned up too much clay so there must have been a decent topsoil layer to begin with.
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11-04-2012, 09:01 PM
I don't think adding sand to clay would be helpful.or adding sand to silt! Do you like concrete!!

couple inches of organic matter generally would be find, depending on om%

11-05-2012, 01:55 AM
If SOM is at or near 5% there is something else going on contributing to compaction and bad texture. My usual perps are high pH, high Mg, and sodium. Bringing in sand is no good unless you go all the way and construct the area like a USGA green.

11-05-2012, 08:20 AM
I got to see the whole program over the weekend as I was under the weather... the first thing he did was take a core sample then,,, take a pinch from out of the sampler and determine the texture by showing it 'ribbon' between his fingers... clay was pretty obvious, even on camera...

I don't know if anyone has ever used a cement mixer to mix their own cement from scratch using the correct gravel/sand for the job and a bag of pulverized Portland... but if you had,,, you would have quickly learned to NOT allow anykind of organic matter to contaminate the mixture...

I've been hoping for years now that I wouldn't have to be the one to explain why the mixing of sand and clay does not make cement/adobe in the soil... I didn't want to be the one that makes the point about what OM does to concrete mixes, becuz I'm an ignorant fool that tells wild stories and dispenses false information...

But at least I'm no more a fool than a guy that has his own franchise on educational TV, supportted by the Wisconsin Board of Regents... :)