Soil Perculation

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Smallaxe, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Most of us understand the problem of clay soils not perculating well, if at all... Typically the rain/irr. soaks in as far as it can, then sits there... later it dries out to be a hard block of cracked misery...

    It seems to me, for the most part, that the moisture in the clay is lost through evaportaion/transpiration and that very little is lost through gravitation...

    If this is a likely scenario(in general), then it may be that the rootzone is in a constant anaerobic condition...

    I would like some intelligent discussion about this subject... Not a long list of brochures... Not any commentary about how clueless/ignorant I am... I would like the good people in this forum to standup and say what they believe/think/imagine about any subject at hand w/out intimidation from the bullies on this forum...
     
  2. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 7,961

    I believe the term is infiltration.

    I am not sure it is the excess water standing that causes the clay to crust over. In fact you need some flushing to keep the mineral salts from building up on the surface of clay. That would more than likely lead to moss and other issues.

    Typically the concern with Anaerobic in the "root zone" has more to do with saturation.
     
  3. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,746

    Axe,
    I understand that this condition does lead to decline in grasses. I understand that this also leads to surface rooting and therefore leads to decline from drought stress, disease, and lack of nutrient absorption. Like drinking chocolate milk with the chocolate not stirred.
    I feel that these types of soils......many in my area from excessive wear of large equipment on poor soil. The clay pot syndrome on the surface only causes excessive run-off from irrigation, moss, and overall nutrient loss. After the sun bakes the top layers, it becomes lifeless and void of micro life. Worms don't and cannot live in these compact soils. I speak because I see these soils after doing a soil sample. When you can't stick a screw driver in to a depth of 4 inches because of compaction, how can a turfgrass grow and thrive. Beneficial soil microbes and worms cannot live in this. So, in all respects neither can a turfgrass.
    In terms of cool turfgrass where deep roots is essential, the warmer season grasses have problems with shallow rooting and poor nutrient intake. This leads LCO's like me to spoon feed grasses with chemical fertilizers that will only speed up the process of compaction. I have pushed the technique of coring and topdressing with either peat moss and or sand to reduce the compaction.............but to no action of customer base interest, I have ceased the operation and the hassle of pushing sales. When the customer doesn't want to spend the essential money for the long haul, then it isn't my concern from there. You can't get blood from a turnip!!!!
     
  4. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 7,961

    Does the condition exist as a result as he descibed?
     
  5. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,746

    Soil conditions are a result of environmental factors and lack thereof of organic matter.
    Crusting soils is another subject all of its own and is the soils one defense of drying out and protecting the sub surface from natural forces and erosion. I am not a Master of this science.....just a LCO trying to gain more knowledge.
     
  6. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 7,961

    First post

     
  7. TX Easymoney

    TX Easymoney LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,063

    good topic--been pondering some of the same things--mostly for grass-

    wondering at what point does the water percolate down below the root zone and how could one prevent this from happening--meaning, if you water, part of the water is used and some of it disappears too deep for the grass roots so could i potentially change that dynamic? (water less)-

    most experts promote deep root watering, and I have been a strong advocate of that--however, through trial and error recently, I have been able to keep my grass (at my home) more healthy through light daily waterings--reducing my volume slightly over one per week watering-

    New products such as Field Magic seem to be helping when mixed with the soil prior to planting, but not necessarily to top dressing-
    any feedback would be apreciated-
     
  8. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,746

    I wish to see evenly saturated soil past the root zone being able to sustain moisture. Then as would watering a flower pot. Absorbing water into the critical root zone and beyond is what I consider proper. Once the soil is holding water to its capacity, then periodic watering is sufficient. The wicking effect can sustain less water needed and healthier plants. Since grass is a plant and or a cover crop, watering less with an equal mixture of water to air ratios, then there is less for disease, root rot, and surface rooting. This leads to why the roots is growing toward the surface that is the result of my problems in all sites. There is equal amounts of water to air. Below the surface cannot sustain healthy roots.
    My questions evolve from there. Without coring......into clay which I consider a waste of time..........it only creates the clay pot effect and doesn't saturate any deeper. What products work for reducing this effect. Does it provide sufficient organic matter to reduce the compaction and prevent crusting and or anaerobic root rots.
     
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Thanks for the input... we have definately described the problem from several different angles, and I agree that some of the solution would be a covering of sandy compost/peat moss materials...

    Interesting point about plugging the clay, only makes little clay pots all around the lawn and is a waste of time... it may be worthwhile if topdressing with some decent material, afterwards...

    The comment about watering a little everyday, kind of relates to where I was going with my opening statements in that, I wonder if clay can ever be managed to a 'happy medium' somewhere between anaerobic grease and anaerobic rock...
    All the comments tend to say that the roots are staying near the surface, or above anyways, so maybe this is the way to go...
    Does that make any sense? what would be the drawbacks??
     
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    I believe that water draining through the soil on its way to the water table is a good thing... the roots act as a filter, cleaning the water as it goes, but the action of downward motion draws air into the pores that the water just drained from... anyways, that's how I see it...

    Have you used Field Magic? is it worth the trouble/money??
     

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