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Starting from scratch on clay soil

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by northgarden, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. northgarden

    northgarden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    As part of a larger re-landscaping of my yard I plan to rip out what's left of my grass (clover is becoming the dominant species with assorted other weeds). Our soil is a clay that is as hard as concrete when it's hot and dry and supports standing water when wet. My goal is to make the soil a much friendlier place for a lawn.

    Since there is a lot of germinating weeds tough enough to grow in the clay, I thought I would start by removing the top three to four inches (it's about 5,100 sq. ft of lawn), then getting enough sandy loam to fill in most of that, the till it with the top few inches of clay with the goal of getting about 4 or five inches of amended soil, (I would also mix in anything else needed bases on a soil test). Then, because I want to raise the elevation of the lawn a few inches, I would cover that amended soil with three inches of top soil/compost.

    I'd be putting in an in-ground sprinkler system before getting grass seed that might do well in my area (hard to find much good info on that in Southern Ontario). There's a short Fall window to do this up here, beginning about the third week of October.

    I realize what I'm proposing is costly but I don't mind spending more to get a lawn that is healthy and with good watering practices can be easily well-maintained.

    What do you think of my plans? What would you suggest doing differently?
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I would mix the compost right in with the sandy loam. (OM is what defines the quality of the loam.) Tilling it in, raking it out and seeding down sounds right to me.

    If you just tilled in the sandy compost and raised the grade that way, you may not have the expense of taking out a bunch of clay. But then, if your mix is not enough to improve the texture of the soil, it will have been better to do it now.
  3. northgarden

    northgarden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    Thanks Smallaxe. Good suggestion about mixing in the compost with the sandy loam. I really do want to take out at least a few inches of clay, both to reduce the risk of not having a really good base and to remove more of the clover. weeds -- not allowed to spray pesticide on lawns in Ontario. Removing clay hikes up the cost but I rather pay more now to make maintenance easier down the road.

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