Heavy clay soil

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by JFGLN, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. JFGLN

    JFGLN LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 964

    I'm looking for ideas on improving this lawn. Looks like the landscaper applied a thin layer of topsoil over heavy clay. Serious drainage issues. Will topdressing with compost help?

    hack lawn2011.jpg
     
  2. JFGLN

    JFGLN LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 964

    Would it be better to start over. Till in compost 6" deep and reseed? It' a big area, about 8000 sq ft.
     
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,354

    Drainage issues should be solved with drainage. Install 4 inch black plastic slitted drainage tubing underground. At a minimum, French drains filled with rock. Be sure gutters from house go into underground drains leading out to street. Only other solution is to recontour to provide surface drainage. Maybe you need to have a small hill instead of a valley.
     
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    If you are willing to till .... then till it, as this is the only reasonable solution, especially if you are dealing with compaction. Soil test and determine how much compost and whatever other amendments you need so you can get it all done in one shot. Proper soil prep is one of the main points to address when establishing turf .... and all too often it is ignored completely or done wrong. For your reference.

    http://www.seattle.gov/util/stellen...nts/webcontent/ecological_200312021255394.pdf
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2011
  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    That entirely depends on the reason for the lack of drainage. If it is a result of a shallow depth application of topsoil over a compacted clay, then no drainage in the world is going to make it better.
     
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    You said there is a thin layer of topsoil over the clay. How thick is the clay layer?

    Tilling in compost is always a good idea, but compost breaks down over time and your soil is back to a platelet structrure.
    A sandy compost tilled in thoroughly and deeply, is about the best way to go. If you are able to hit gravel or sand below the clay even better, as it will require less work and material to fix your drainage issue...

    Meanwhile mow only when it is dry and allow the soil to dry. Mulch mow and add compost after aeration, which more often the better.

    You have a large lawn, only work as much as you can handle with a wheel barrow and regular reartine tiller. Start with the lowest area first and go from there.

    If you decide to hotdog it with big bad machines like 'true professionals', your disappoint will continue. Do one spot right and forget about it. A proper lawn with proper soil never needs aerating, unless there is too much traffic, fert, and water... :)
     
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    That is a good point to keep in mind... Drainage can mean a number of different things, depending on the context... In this case, increasing perculation will help alleviate drainage issues...
     
  8. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    That is not entirely true. Compost will continue to break down into more stable forms of organic matter which will help keep the soil structure somewhat friable. That said, you need to keep the organic inputs into the system (i.e. your SOM) steady, especially if you are removing clippings, leaves, etc.....
     
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    Double post because the storm is messing with my satelite connection... :)
     
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    I agree... That is true...

    However, if you're going through the work of tilling, a sandy compost would be better than a pure compost, IMO...

    Another thought occurred to me is: What if th homeowner decided to add 4" of top soil that was High in SOM on top of the clay hardpan... Would that solve his problem?
     

Share This Page