Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Landscaping & Lawn Care

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 08-06-2010, 02:16 PM   #1
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1
Share |
Default

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.

dsimonid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2010, 05:55 PM   #2
DIY Hack
 
Mr Chips's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,302
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


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....

__________________
Those who can, do...
Those who can't criticize on the internet
Mr Chips is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Mr Chips For This Useful Post:
dsimonid (08-06-2010)
Old 08-06-2010, 08:17 PM   #3
Member
 
Tom Struble's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: west milford n.j.
Posts: 2,785
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


gypsum a good soil additive use to improve the soils structure
Tom Struble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2010, 09:38 PM   #4
DIY Hack
 
Mr Chips's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,302
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


Quote:
Originally Posted by tomstruble View Post
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
__________________
Those who can, do...
Those who can't criticize on the internet
Mr Chips is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2010, 03:41 AM   #5
paper hanger and painter
 
chrisn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Hagerstown MD
Posts: 6,716
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Chips View Post
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
chrisn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2010, 07:53 PM   #6
Don't know it all, yet!
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Metro Atlanta, GA
Posts: 910
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


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.
__________________
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. If you wouldn't put your name on it, it ain't done right!
downunder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2010, 09:09 PM   #7
DIY Hack
 
Mr Chips's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,302
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
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 View Post

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 View Post

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
__________________
Those who can, do...
Those who can't criticize on the internet

Last edited by Mr Chips; 08-16-2010 at 09:12 PM.
Mr Chips is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2010, 10:41 AM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Nashua, NH, USA
Posts: 6,936
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


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.
__________________
Stop wasting time re-adjusting the pattern. Have several lawn sprinklers, one for each pattern.
AllanJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2010, 10:42 AM   #9
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Nashua, NH, USA
Posts: 6,936
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


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.
__________________
Stop wasting time re-adjusting the pattern. Have several lawn sprinklers, one for each pattern.
AllanJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2010, 09:23 PM   #10
DIY Hack
 
Mr Chips's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,302
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
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 View Post
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
__________________
Those who can, do...
Those who can't criticize on the internet
Mr Chips is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2010, 10:15 PM   #11
Member
 
concretemasonry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota - Latitude 45.057 Longitude -93.074
Posts: 3,740
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


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.
concretemasonry is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-18-2010, 06:32 AM   #12
DIY Hack
 
Mr Chips's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,302
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


Quote:
Originally Posted by concretemasonry View Post
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
__________________
Those who can, do...
Those who can't criticize on the internet
Mr Chips is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-18-2010, 09:34 AM   #13
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 199
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


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.
piste is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-18-2010, 11:44 AM   #14
DIY Hack
 
Mr Chips's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,302
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


Quote:
Originally Posted by piste View Post

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
__________________
Those who can, do...
Those who can't criticize on the internet
Mr Chips is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-18-2010, 07:19 PM   #15
Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Near Philly
Posts: 2,001
Default

How to improve soil under an existing lawn


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

bob22 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
lawn care, soil


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
How to improve clay soil for a lawn werc Landscaping & Lawn Care 14 06-14-2010 01:43 PM
Best way to start fresh on an existing lawn? syren Landscaping & Lawn Care 2 04-24-2010 03:24 PM
Raising property level with existing lawn earthad1 Landscaping & Lawn Care 9 03-29-2010 01:53 PM
Planting grass after tilling existing lawn werc Landscaping & Lawn Care 1 05-22-2008 01:38 AM




Top of Page | View New Posts

Copyright © 2003-2014 Escalate Media. All Rights Reserved.