DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum (http://www.diychatroom.com/)
-   Landscaping & Lawn Care (http://www.diychatroom.com/f16/)
-   -   How to improve soil under an existing lawn (http://www.diychatroom.com/f16/how-improve-soil-under-existing-lawn-78090/)

dsimonid 08-06-2010 02:16 PM

How to improve soil under an existing lawn
 
Several spots in our 2-year old lawn are dying from lack of rain. It appears to be where more builder's sand than topsoil exists, such as where the septic tank and fields exist.

Is there a way to improve the soil, and moisture-retaining ability, shy of planting a new lawn?

Thank you.

Mr Chips 08-06-2010 05:55 PM

sure. you can rake a topsoil "dressing" right into the grass. it will look a little shady for a couple weeks, but if all you have there is dead lawn it might be an improvement. Don't go too heavy. Just rake it in so the grass is protruding out. do it in now, late fall, and again in spring if need be. if you have a good compost pile, add some of that

I have the opposite problem: a lot of clay in my soil. I rake in 7-10 big bales of peat moss into my lawn every spring. the drainage is getting a lot better, but it's a slow process for sure....

Tom Struble 08-06-2010 08:17 PM

gypsum a good soil additive use to improve the soils structure

Mr Chips 08-06-2010 09:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tomstruble (Post 481641)
gypsum a good soil additive use to improve the soils structure

yea, i use gyp also, but there seems to be a lot of conflicting "experts" when it comes to gypsum. You can never go wrong adding organic matter like peat and compost IMO

chrisn 08-07-2010 03:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Chips (Post 481669)
yea, i use gyp also, but there seems to be a lot of conflicting "experts" when it comes to gypsum. You can never go wrong adding organic matter like peat and compost IMO


that and a little cow or horse crap:laughing:

downunder 08-16-2010 07:53 PM

My 2c worth-

The idea of raking in some topsoil dressing could have some use but could be expensive and labor intensive. I would core aerate first and hopefully some of the topsoil will find its way into the plug holes.

Gypsum has some benefit for loosening heavy clay soils in a limited area. Wholesale application as one might do with lime is generally useless.

It has been my experience that peat (and I use it routinely) is for moisture holding more than drainage. Perilite, coarse sand and, to some extent, vermiculite are for that purpose. Peat is very acidic. This should be considered when using it for crop that are pH sensitive.

Mr Chips 08-16-2010 09:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by downunder (Post 486977)
My 2c worth-

The idea of raking in some topsoil dressing could have some use but could be expensive and labor intensive.

VERY cheap and VERY easy. you literally dump it and rake it

Quote:

Originally Posted by downunder (Post 486977)

Gypsum has some benefit for loosening heavy clay soils in a limited area. Wholesale application as one might do with lime is generally useless.

Not necisarily true, there is a lot of debate on this topic

Quote:

Originally Posted by downunder (Post 486977)

It has been my experience that peat (and I use it routinely) is for moisture holding more than drainage.

Peat has great moisture holding properties, but it doesn't change the fact that its a great additive to help loosen packed clay over time

AllanJ 08-17-2010 10:41 AM

In order to both improve the soil under a lawn and not raise (the level of) the lawn, you must remove some of the not so good soil first.

AllanJ 08-17-2010 10:42 AM

If you don't take away the clippings when you mow the lawn (chopping up, or mulching, the clippings is preferred) then the soil will enrich itself although the level of the lawn will be raised a tad.

Mr Chips 08-17-2010 09:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 487228)
In order to both improve the soil under a lawn and not raise (the level of) the lawn, you must remove some of the not so good soil first.

Quote:

Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 487230)
If you don't take away the clippings when you mow the lawn (chopping up, or mulching, the clippings is preferred) then the soil will enrich itself although the level of the lawn will be raised a tad.

Maybe but it won't happen overnight. I've been raking in topsoil and peatmoss on my lawn every spring for the last 3 or 4 years, as well as mulching EVERYTIME i mow the law, and there is ZERO noticable differance in the overall height of my yard

concretemasonry 08-17-2010 10:15 PM

Core aeration will open up the surface and provide an efficient space for whatever you want to apply. It has been used routinely several times a year on the better golf courses (except for a week after until the cores breakdown) and the following applications will go into the voids with some watering.

Mr Chips 08-18-2010 06:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by concretemasonry (Post 487472)
Core aeration will open up the surface and provide an efficient space for whatever you want to apply. It has been used routinely several times a year on the better golf courses (except for a week after until the cores breakdown) and the following applications will go into the voids with some watering.

Make sure you don't aerate during drought conditions, this can really stress a lawn

piste 08-18-2010 09:34 AM

I've done a ton of research on this and one common approach has clearly emerged. But it does take a number of years. You don't need to remove anything...unless of course you want to go the route of ripping everything up...tilling in organics etc etc. But presuming you want to start from where you are.

First and foremost...BEST thing you can do (and for any lawn for that matter) is core aerate. With a compacted clay situation...do it spring and fall for AT LEAST 5 years...then maybe switch to just fall...forever.

Second, and do this right after core aeration...top dress. Not only does that provide much needed organic matter for the soil...it feeds the worms which end up doing a great deal of aerating through tunnelling and help via worm droppings.

The above two steps seem indisputable.

Beyond that...keep to a good fertilization program....and on that I'm going to switch mine to organic in the next year or so. Mulch every time you mow if possible to return nutrients in the clippings which will not at all raise the level of the lawn. Also mow high...I keep to 3" most of the year.... a bit lower at beginning and end of season...but never below 2.5". You can throw some gypsum and/or coarse sand down from time to time if you want but there's much debate on the efficacy of that. Beyond that all you need is patience. And yes top dressing can get a bit costly if you are paying someone to spread it. Good luck.

Mr Chips 08-18-2010 11:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by piste (Post 487578)

The above two steps seem indisputable.

Beyond that...keep to a good fertilization program....and on that I'm going to switch mine to organic in the next year or so. Mulch every time you mow if possible to return nutrients in the clippings which will not at all raise the level of the lawn. Also mow high...I keep to 3" most of the year.... a bit lower at beginning and end of season...but never below 2.5". You can throw some gypsum and/or coarse sand down from time to time if you want but there's much debate on the efficacy of that. Beyond that all you need is patience. And yes top dressing can get a bit costly if you are paying someone to spread it. Good luck.

I have clay soil, and have also done a lot of research and agree with everything in your post. I'd like to add that before you start adding sand, do your research. this is heavily debated ( as you mentioned) and many feel that if you use the wrong type of sand, you will do more harm than good. Also if cost is a concern, think twice about gypsum. It's pretty expensive, and it's not clear on how much it helps. Gypsum probably won't hurt at all, but IMO topdressing will do a lot more good, and pound for pound is a heck of a lot cheaper. I also mow at the highest setting and mulch the clippings, and when all my neighbors yards go brown when it's dry, mine stays a lot more green without any watering

bob22 08-18-2010 07:19 PM

Gypsum; one view:
http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/lanb003/lanb003.htm


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:54 PM.


Copyright 2003-2014 Escalate Media LP. All Rights Reserved