New Construction + Heavy Clay Soil = Horrible Lawn - PLEASE HELP!

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by UghClay, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. UghClay

    UghClay LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    We moved into our new home in February and the front lawn was sodded and is growing well. After the last frost, they finish graded our back yard (approx. 13000sq ft) and hydroseeded. Unfortunately, soil amendments and erosion control netting or even straw were not part of the package with our new home. I watered like a maniac (light, frequent watering) and some grass came up, but it's really really thin and just not good. Drainage and erosion has now taken its toll and I have some deep grooves and mounds (in the swale where the soil ran off too). This weekend, I'm going to dig trenches and install drainage pipe to take the gutter water back to the swale so it won't continue to erode the lawn (so I'm fixing that problem). But my lawn looks like crap, is all heavy clay, rocks are popping up again and I don't know what to do. I've read all I can on the web about this, but the thought of tilling my entire back yard, buying tons of soil amendments, re-tilling those in, then seeding, then rolling, then paying tons of $$$ for erosion netting seems extreme and very expensive. I have a 1/2 acre lot and most of it is my crapy back yard. Once I've fixed the erosion problem caused by gutter runoff, what should I do next? The builder might regrade (full on pulverizing again) or will smooth out the erosion/fill in spots, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to do any of that right now and lose what little grass I do have (even though I HATE the fact that most of what has grown is the really fast and tall growing fine fescue - or at least I'm assuming that tall fast growing grass is fine fescue).

    Any thoughts? I'm sure I'm not the first guy who's tried to grow grass in 100% heavy clay soil without spending a small fortune to fix the soil. Or is spending a small fortune to fix the soil really the only way to get a nice backyard?

    What do you think about a slice seeder and a top coat of organic compost?

    Since it's mid-summer, should I just live with it until late summer/fall when temps will be cooler and I won't have to water 24/7?

    How much would it cost for me to rent equipment to do all this myself?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,508

    get the grade right remove all the stones. then in the fall have a blower truck come in and put an inch of compost and seed mixture down about the second week of September. then stay off of it. Your looking at 30 cents a square foot in my area but it is the best way for your situation. the compost will prevent erosion till the grass grows in and the compost will hold water for the grass to germinate. then over time the compost will break down and provide you with a layer of topsoil over all that clay. trust me it is the only way to do it with out spending excess time and money one shot and your done. pm me with questions we have had success with this before!

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