Soil gets Treated like Dirt

Smallaxe

LawnSite Fanatic
Many times we get caught up on just dumping NPK onto the turf w/out ever considering whether the soil is capable of recieving, holding and transferring nutrients to the plant roots...

Once a year we "Aerate soil", pat ourselves on the back, and say, "there, we've Considered The Soil , our job is done..".
The concept of Living soil and CE sites matters the world to a plant's ability to grow in a given environment, yet it's never brought up...

My question is about soil structure... What does anyone know about it?,,, what do you advise your clients to do about it?,,, and does anyone check what kind of soils they are dealing with on various lawns?... :)
 

RigglePLC

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Grand Rapids MI
So sorry, Axe,
in most cases I knew that the client could not change the soil--clay loam or sand, low organic matter or high. Ph could be adjusted of course--but that is rare around here.

Would there be a noticeable difference from adding a quarter inch of peat moss or from leaf mold? How much does it take to produce a noticeable difference the following year? How much does it take to produce a change in CEC if you take a soil test the following year? How much is too much?
 

nightshutter

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
UT
My question is about soil structure... What does anyone know about it?,,, what do you advise your clients to do about it?,,, and does anyone check what kind of soils they are dealing with on various lawns?... :)
Im not sure if this is the answer your looking for or if im way off. Wont compost change the soil structure. Adding more organic matter to the soil. Trop dressing with humate would also add organic matter to the soil.
 

CHARLES CUE

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
BURTON WV
Soil structure what the soil is made of sand, silt, clay. Organic matter.

Always trying to improve a customers yard. But most dont want to spend the money. Beyond what they pay me to control the weeds and apply NPK. When a soil test is done i will apply what is needed.

Charles Cue
 
OP
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Smallaxe

LawnSite Fanatic
Soil structure what the soil is made of sand, silt, clay. Organic matter.

Charles Cue
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss169

Texture, is the composition of the mineral elements, clay or sand, of the soil, w/out consideration of OM...

Structure is the way those elements are arranged...
For exa.:
When the fungal activity in the soil is able to arrange little 'balls' in the soil, that is considered to be the best structure...
 
OP
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Smallaxe

LawnSite Fanatic
Im not sure if this is the answer your looking for or if im way off. Wont compost change the soil structure. Adding more organic matter to the soil. Trop dressing with humate would also add organic matter to the soil.
That is true, I was just wondering if anyone advises their clients(successfullly) on 'soil structure' and recommends certain strategies to accomplish a better lawn?

A major example of soil structure destruction that I deal with is "Over irrigation". The surfaces of several lawns are 'platlet' only structures and are largely hydrophobic and water proof..

I guess the biggest problem is communicating to the client what is happening and getting them to understand what I'm talking about... Does anyone else counsel on lawncare to their clients and get them to listen? :)
 
OP
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Smallaxe

LawnSite Fanatic
So sorry, Axe,
in most cases I knew that the client could not change the soil--clay loam or sand, low organic matter or high. Ph could be adjusted of course--but that is rare around here.

Would there be a noticeable difference from adding a quarter inch of peat moss or from leaf mold? How much does it take to produce a noticeable difference the following year? How much does it take to produce a change in CEC if you take a soil test the following year? How much is too much?
Boosting soil activity is more what I was refering to, as opposed to bringing in materials, ammendments, or different soil altogether...

Another thought thaat comes to mind other than just water regulation is to decompose the excess dead material on the surface.
It always bugs me to see people quickly rip up the brown dead grass in the Spring rather than over time, speed up digestion into the soil where it builds 'Structure'...

So what I'm getting at is whether anyone considers soil structure in their business model?
 

nightshutter

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
UT
That is true, I was just wondering if anyone advises their clients(successfullly) on 'soil structure' and recommends certain strategies to accomplish a better lawn?

A major example of soil structure destruction that I deal with is "Over irrigation". The surfaces of several lawns are 'platlet' only structures and are largely hydrophobic and water proof..

I guess the biggest problem is communicating to the client what is happening and getting them to understand what I'm talking about... Does anyone else counsel on lawncare to their clients and get them to listen? :)
I started offering these types of services( topdressing, etc) this past spring. I have yet to seal the deal on one. I have properties that for sure need it. Lots of areas with bad clay. One might happen next spring. The problem that I see is that most if not all homeowners think that fertilizer will cure everything and give them a green lawn. It does temporally. They dont want to spend the extra $$ to change the soil structure. In the long run thats the best for the lawn. IMO.

I have one property that is the perfect candidate. Pure clay! the worst ive seen. Took me 4 times as long to remove a 4x3 boxwood because the clay was like a suction cup. The lawn is in full sun and has adequate irrigation. Always a problem with the lawn not too green. The clay doesnt provide the proper nutrients. it has approx. 10k square feet or grass. its a lot cheaper just to fertilize! :hammerhead:
 

nightshutter

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
UT
Boosting soil activity is more what I was refering to, as opposed to bringing in materials, ammendments, or different soil altogether...

Another thought thaat comes to mind other than just water regulation is to decompose the excess dead material on the surface.
It always bugs me to see people quickly rip up the brown dead grass in the Spring rather than over time, speed up digestion into the soil where it builds 'Structure'...

So what I'm getting at is whether anyone considers soil structure in their business model?
Oh so your not talking about bringing amendments. Okay so are your refering to mulch mowing, mulching leaves, or what? Just trying to understand. How do you go about boosting soil activity with out bringing in materials?
 
OP
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Smallaxe

LawnSite Fanatic
Oh so your not talking about bringing amendments. Okay so are your refering to mulch mowing, mulching leaves, or what? Just trying to understand. How do you go about boosting soil activity with out bringing in materials?
You are correct about people willing to pay for compost. I've had some success adding small amounts, especially for overseeding and such, but very few will spring for a 1/4 inch coverage of an entire lawn...

My thoughts are that along with mulch mowing and good water management that soil structure could be improved... another side effect may be prevention of disease...

So: "Are there other things that people do or modify to improve soil structure and the general health and well-being of the turf...???"
 

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