clay-like soil : Aeration?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Andrews Lawn, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. Andrews Lawn

    Andrews Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 44

    Is aerating the answer to a lawn that is mostly clay? Can you spread sand to help loosen it over the years? What else can you put on it to help it out? I thought I might ask you experienced guys for advice. thanks
     
  2. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    Yes, aerating will help clay. I would never suggest sand. Some will, but not me. Sand and clay make concrete. A good rule of thumb is organic matter. Organic matter will allow the soil organisms to start working, allow earthworms to get active, and give the carbon the grass needs. Organic matter will help the soil to rebuild its topsoil.
     
  3. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 237

    won't gypsom decrease the lawns pH?
     
  4. stslawncare

    stslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    from DE
    Posts: 1,484

    some quality topsoil and aeration
     
  5. Aerate and topdress with organic compost.
     
  6. That be Lime

    Gypsom breaks down the clay.
     
  7. joshua

    joshua LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,226

    gypsum, and aearating is your best bet, don't use any sand that will make matters worse 9 out of 10 times.
     
  8. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 340

    A couple of interesting sites I've been looking at:

    http://www.dirtdoctor.com

    http://www.oldgrowth.org/compost/

    http://www.wormdigest.org

    Organic matter (compost) seems to be the magic thing to improve any type of soil. Normally sand is not added to clay or clay to sand, in either case just add compost. I have a really good book on organic lawn care - Down to Earth Natural Lawn Care by Dick Raymond. He says he would recommend compost more except that it is too expensive. My city has a compost facility so I can get truckloads for free. If you don't have a compost site in your town, then it could be a good idea to start composting grass clippings, leaves, etc yourself. You could charge people for it. It takes a lot of yard waste to make a little compost.

    I have seen it recommended to add 3" of compost and till it in to a depth of 9" to really renovate a lawn. Of course this will raise the ground level by 3" unless dirt is removed. This would probably be a huge and expensive project. Adding 1" and tilling in to a depth of 3" would probably be quite a dramatic improvement and much less of a project. You can always just add some compost to the top of the lawn. As little as 1/4" may be effective, especially if done each year or maybe a couple of times a year. Over time, worms will help to integrate the organic matter into the lawn. I am not yet very experienced in these techniques so others may have more info. A guy around here has just opened a store to sell an organic fertilizer that he is making. The main ingredient is corn meal. This seems to be a magic thing that feeds micro-organisms in the soil and gets the worms working. It seems like it could help to aerate before top-dressing with compost in clay soil. I heard about a garden show where that was recommended. In the absence of compost, it could help to add shredded leaves or grass clippngs to the lawn.

    Of course it is helpful to mulch mow (and quite detrimental to bag and remove the clippings). If fertilizer is used, it is better to use organic fertilzer for long-term health of the lawn.

    I have also heard of adding gypsom to clay to help loosen it. Don't know much about that. Does it help to just top-dress with it or does it need to be tilled in?

    (Just some ideas from a guy who is getting very interested in organic techniques).
     
  9. Yes that is good, but top dressing is not always the answer.

    Were are talking a defference of over $1000 just for a 10k sq/ft lawn. Maybe more.

    But hey if you can sell it, it won't hurt at all.
     

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