New Lawn on red clay

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by gwd, May 28, 2008.

  1. gwd

    gwd LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    i just re-seeded my lawn approx 1 ac. with Lesco Transition. The soil is really terrible with the majority around the house being red clay. I've tilled it, put down lime, gypsum and fertilizer. With the recent rains that we have had I have nice looking grass coming up to where the clay has a green shade to it. Although the blades of grass look thin it is coming in nicely. My question now is what next? When should I fertilize or should I add more lime? etc.,etc.,
    I realize that I should have had truck loads of top soil brought in but can not afford that type of cost being this is a new home and are short on cash.
    Thanks for any and all suggestions.
  2. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 15,782

    Not sure what you should do next other then have your soil tested. Here it would be too late to fertilize.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    What do you mean, see here comes the fun part, waiting...
    You get to wait, and stop looking at it already :p

    Just go with your usual mow and watering schedule, study the effects your mower has on the turf, but just do what you've always done for the most part. I might recommend raising your cut height to at least 3" maybe even 3.5", depends somewhat on the size of your mower's deck: If it's a 21' pushmower then make it 3", but if it's a rider or such make it 3.25 maybe even 3.5"
    Use the higher cut height throughout summer and from now on, never again mow below 3".
    It helps keep the lawn greener, also spread your cuts as far out as you feasibly can, no clumps please but you will see the higher cut height actually allows you to let it go some more without clumping (but to a point, you'll want to study this).

    Then, in the fall comes the next step.
    Nothing doing until then.

    I can give you some advice:
    3-4 x 40 pound bags of Gypsum per 1/4 acre, once in fall and once in spring, is my general formula.
    Do that until that red clay is gone AND you have nice turf.
    Then, when you core aerate the turf (in fall), study the plugs to see how much penetration you're getting from the gypsum.
    You will see, over time, the plugs won't be all red anymore, some parts will be but others will turn the color of soil, and for some time to come you will see these two-tone plugs lol but that's exactly what you want to see... How MUCH of the plug is still red?
    Of course, deeper plugs make for better study material :p

    Now it takes 6-12 months for that stuff to work, you may or may not see results this year yet, soil-wise, but I wouldn't be afraid to put down some more in the fall anyhow, then again in the spring. That's on top of a regular core aeration and re-seeding with fertilizer and lime, in the FALL!

    Then, next year...
    Same basic thing, already mentioned gypsum in spring, la-dee-dah and wait...
    In fall of 2009 you should see what I speak of in terms of the soil condition when the yard is aerated, look at the plugs!

    Every single year, in the FALL, core aerate, seed, lime, fertilize...
    And, depending on what the plugs tell you, gypsum.
    The effects of gypsum are cumulative, one day you won't need to put it down anymore.
    Once those plugs have little to no red in them, that's the day.
    It usually takes me 3-4 years before that day, but the progress happens the entire
    time and the lawn benefits throughout, too, so it is a visible thing, it just takes t.i.m.e....

    I wish you as good or better luck.
  4. lawnmon

    lawnmon LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116


    Great post! Maybe the best I've seen on LS.


  5. gwd

    gwd LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    Thanks for the info, sorry I haven't replied before now. Looks like I have a lot of work to do from here on out. What do you recommend for fertilizer? (15-10-15, 10-10-10 etc.,??
    Thanks again for everyones help!
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Number 1 priority -> Do a soil test before developing a management plan.

    All those amendments that have been recommended will wreck havoc on your soils and biology contained within, that is unless your trying to create a lifeless waste land.
  7. k911lowe

    k911lowe LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 526

    sounds like everything is going nicely.just leave it alone and watch.
  8. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Tell me, why would you use both gypsum AND lime in ANY soil management program?
  9. garyd54

    garyd54 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Well, about 6 loads of top soil and re-seeding and some 15-30-15 in December I now have grass growing. I am looking for a good aerator that I can pull behind a small Kubota 23hp lawn tractor. Any suggestions?
  10. lawnmon

    lawnmon LawnSite Member
    Posts: 116

    I just used my Turf-Aire aerator this weekend behind my 22HP Simplicity Regent. That aerator rocks! Nice, 2" plugs are pulled with ease. I had two 45 lb. gas cans for ballast.

    You did say a good aerator, and this is a great one. Hope it'll work for you.

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