Clay Soils

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    There is no thatch, that is compost in various stages of decomposition.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Strangely enough,,, that addresses a large part of the OP...
    Well done... :)
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    I don't see how. Most of the times I have aerated this particular area the soil has been a saturated muddy mess. I posted the pic primarily to demonstrate how aeration + compost can help to aggregate a compacted clay over time. It is not just coincidence that the depth of influence here is roughly related to the depth of coring.
  4. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,358

    Compost and Oxygen are good for flooded clay soils.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Compost with aeration gets a vote, even the wet muddy aeration...
    Compost and oxygen get a vote... :)
  6. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,955

    During the past 6 weeks or so, we have received regular (light) rains. This was enough to allow us to pull 3 -4 inch deep plugs in clay soil lawns with an Exmark 30" aerator. Sometimes we even pulled 5 inch plugs.

    If any soils needed core aeration -- it would be clay soil lawns for sure. Applying some sort of product on top to relieve compaction is a total waste of time imo.
  7. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    I agree and until you said it that way I could not put my finger on what is wrong with the question. It's not that aeration is better than, it's that the other things work better because of aeration.

    If you throw material on top of ground that is compacted or drains poorly and do not address that, then you're just going to have one damp layer on top of a terribly wet layer and they are always going to be separate, they will actually move (slip). Aerating provides *some* opportunity for bonding, for lack or a better term.

    I get guys all the time that want to throw something into puddles on infield dirt to dry them up. Remove the water is part 1 of the best solution. Anything else is high priced lazy hocus pocus.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The issue that spawned the question about aerating clay soils came from a h.o. that said the guy he hired came out when everything was sopping wet and aerated with multiple passes... this was a heavy soil that now has large clumps of mud stuck to the surface of the grass and will likely be suffocating large patches throughout the lawn...

    In agriculture, Spring Plowing can create problems on clay soils if you start too early after the snow melts and the soil hasn't adequately dried yet...
    Soggy clay clumps, void of air pockets, will dry out into stone-like pebbles through the plow zone...

    In clay soils, the air gets pushed out of the system of pores by water, then if it is run over by mowers, carts or even foot traffic the clay pushes into a mass completely void of air pores... Airless soils have garbage for root zones,,, super poor tilth... So my answer to the first question is, 'no, wait for the soil to dry some'...
    My answer to the 2nd question is 'increase root zone depth and density by allowing the soils to dry adequately between irrigation events...

    I agree that aeration in conjunction with other tactics is even better, but when aeration is done incorrectly it does more harm than good... nothing aerates the soil and increases tilth better than a healthy root mass... :)
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I agree that clay soils can definitely benefit from core-aeration,,, unless it turns out to be muddy slime on top of the grass...

    But the reason for putting down something like compost on the surface(even better in the core holes) is to open up the structure of the clay to increase infiltration of the water down into the rootzone...

    Looking at it as 2 separate layers of material as foreplease suggests,,, is to deny the dynamics of a living soil... the right material, temp, moisture/air conditions go a long way to getting the microbes to open up the platy texture of the clay... :)
  10. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Nobody here is advocating running an aerator over any soil that is at field capacity. I remember that other thread - as I recall, the guy was done in by a company owned by relatives and in which he was a silent partner - and this would have been better as a continuation of that thread. There the easy/correct answer was and is "they should have waited." Assuming that everyone who reads or comments in this thread has first read that one is somewhat intellectually corrupt.

    If you have a legitimate question and want to start a new thread with it, have at it. People will weigh in offering help and opinions. But when you already know the answer to your own question, or when you refuse to accept anyone else's opinion, you come off like a school marm making an assertion in the form of a question. Some of us resent it. You have a habit of trying to push peoples' buttons and since it is neigh impossible for anyone to believe he himself is a horses ass, I can only conclude you feel you are being helpful. I and many others cannot be pushed into defending positions we do not occupy.

    If you do not accept that soil layering is not real and in some cases damaging...I got noting for that. I do agree with root zones being improved by healthy, deep roots.

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