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Clay soil

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by pwendel7, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. pwendel7

    pwendel7 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    In KC and have the worst soil/dirt ever. Clearly has a lot of clay in it and need to know how to break it down. Have tried the spray stuff that is supposed to work but didnt see any change. Have heard of putting down some granule but cant remember name of the stuff and dont know the amount. Any help would be appreciated.
  2. KarlP

    KarlP LawnSite Member
    from MA
    Posts: 31

    You can't break down clay into anything much smaller.

    I'd think you'd want to throw down a couple inches of very course sand, a couple inches of manure, a couple inches of compost, and maybe even something fluffy like sawdust/cornmeal/perlite. Then till it a whole lot lot and use a mulching mower to keep adding organic material to the lawn and add additional organic material to the garden beds every year.
  3. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    As you have found out there are no quick fixes, might as well spent the money on beer and drank it, it would do as much good

    The easiest (but not so easy) way is to go rent a core aeration machine, you will need to do this twice a year for 2 years

    core aerate, make at least 3 passes in different directions. North/south then east/west then 45 to that

    overseed with good quality seed, you get what you pay for with grass seed. try to find a variety that has good disease resistance for your area, talk to an ecxtention agent, they know local issues

    top dress with a good to great quality FINISHED compost, 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep

    water for 2 weeks to keep seed moist
    enjoy new yard

    in that order
  4. zanemoseley

    zanemoseley LawnSite Member
    Posts: 173

    I've got crappy TN clay and had problems last year. I think I've gotten over the hump. I have a large lot and all I could afford was 1" of top soil, tilled some areas and rock hounded everything. Lots of decent seed, straw and fertilizer. I wouldn't put sand on clay. I've heard if you just add a bit it actually makes it worse, I think you have to add a LOT to make drainage better. I second renting a core aerator, I did two weekends ago.
  5. mysteryman

    mysteryman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 239

    I believe what you're thinking of is GYPSUM. As I recall from a bag I had twenty years ago they advertised it as 'acting like thousands of tiny hoes'. The effects are more of a long term thing than immediate, however.
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Gypsum does not act like 'thousands of tiny hoes' unless you are dealing with a sodic soil. Use gypsum to mitigate sodic soils and as a Ca & S nutrient adjustment in basic (pH > 7) soils or in soils you wish to adjust Ca & S with little impact on pH. It is not an amendment that will magically relieve compaction.
  7. dfischer

    dfischer LawnSite Member
    from Il
    Posts: 114

    +2 for ICT Bills advice
  8. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 15,782

    Clay is actually not all that bad, Id prefer it over heavy sand soil any day...at least clay holds moisture. Around here clay is the norm as well so you have to learn to adapt. Bills advice is good.

    I have topdressed my front lawn with a sand/organic mix, mostly sand and it has improved my soils. I now have a smoother lawn and it is not as compacted as it was a year ago. Though I have heard mixing sand with clay produces concrete, I have not found that to be the case.

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