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fabian 07-16-2009 07:06 AM

soil very dry
i had grass all the way up to my foundation, well last weekend i cleared 3 feet from the foundation out to make a border, I noticed my two sides are good and the soil is very nice. but on the backyard side its very dry and very dirt like. this weekend we will be picking out plants and will purchase goose eggs to spread around the area. I was thinking to add some top soil to all sides but more in the backyard area, should i add something else? menur? miracle grow? or nothing at all? i am no landscaper as I am a diy first time young home buyer, thanks!

diy'er on LI 07-17-2009 02:46 PM

mix in a good deal of top soil and maybe some peat moss. Soil is always a 'work in progress'... I find it takes years of additions to truly make a flower bed flawless. (I would add the top soil/ peat moss everywhere, and add extra to the backyard... )

Spike99 07-19-2009 03:21 PM

Hi fabian.

As a suggestion, pick a few random spots in your yard and "dig down" 3ft (or so) Nice 2ft x 32" down holes and tell us the soil layering in that specific area. This is very critical.

If top 6" is good top soil but below this level is sand (especially beach sand) then all the top soil in the world added ontop will NOT fix the problem. Especially if adding more soil forces your home's foundation "too close" to ground level. If wondering, my front yard was like that. Top 5" of ground was good top soil but under the top soil was beach sand. Sand the house builder brought in to quickly level out the front yard (to sell the house). I had to manually dig down 2.5 ft (no kidding) and manually remove the beach sand. (thankfully, I had a 3x6 trailer and large ATV at that time). After the beach sand removal task, I bought 2 trucks of 30 cu yards of top soil. Yes, 2 extra large dump trucks. Manually shoveled it around, then through some grass seed ontop of it. The next spring, my front yard was awesome. Grass was green and it looked great even during the super hot summer months. If I would have added 4-6" of top soil ontop of the sand, it would NOT have fixed the problem. The problem of too deep of sand (under the top soil) in our front yard.

At our seasonal camp site, we have the opposite problem. The CG owner trucked in lots of top soil and added it onto of hard clay. Its base is hard clay with lots of trees - with mesh of tree roots. When it rains, the water goes into the top soil and is trapped against the clay top layer. Thus, it takes weeks and weeks for the ground to dry. Vision grease ontop of a sheet of steel. That's how slippery his ground becomes during wet season. He installed 4" weeping tile (approx 28" under ground) in the low spots and it dramatically helped. For him, leaving the base clay but installing weeping tile system was best. Especially since base glay was full of natural tree roots.

For your house and its outer "dry spots", peraps digging down a few "sample holes" and verifying its under ground soil layers may help. Help determine if under ground weeping tile system is needed (like in my back yard as well) or perhaps complete manual soil removal / replacement is best. It all depends what is under your home's ground today.

Good luck....


Lali 11-09-2009 05:35 AM

Sounds a bit severe Spike99. I tend to agree with diyer in LI, top soil & peat moss are much easier solutions. Pardon my ignorance, but what did you mean by 'placing goose eggs around the area'??? I put eggshellls & orange peels in my garden regularly, but goose eggs? :huh:

Spike99 11-11-2009 11:04 AM


Originally Posted by Lali (Post 350864)
Sounds a bit severe Spike99. I tend to agree with diyer in LI, top soil & peat moss are much easier solutions. ....

The ground around a building is much like a cake. If one digs down and obtains samples, they will see its under ground "layering". The under ground layers could be gravel, soft beach sand, garbage soil and even construction garbage. Many house builders "back fill" the least expensive filler they can obtain. And for the top 6" or so, they add great looking top soil. Thus, one appears to have "great looking soil" around their home. But in fact, only a few inches under the ground is garbage soil. For more details about soil testing and water contents, surf:

Removing garbage soil and/or installing weeping tile system isn't that hard. One can do it by hand or contract the work out. Digging sample holes (for layer discovery) and if needed, removing soil isn't that hard to do. If one doesn't like a shovel, then hire the work out.

Adding top soil ontop is like adding more icing thickness to the top of the cake. It only makes it look better and doesn't change its under surface layering (which could be garbage - from the home's original builder).

As stated in my above post, I removed the "soft sand" filler in my home's front yard and installed 4" weeping tile system in my back yard. Did it by hand - since I'm not afraid of dirt and a shovel. End result was amazing. Grass in front yard is now green during hot summer months and back yard is now water free. Especially after rain storms. Based on results, I'd recommend my "if needed - replace under ground layers" upgrade as "minimum code". Especially for all new home constructions. Something my home's builder should have installed 22 years ago...

BTW: Don't be afriad of a shovel and digging some dirt on your own. It's only dirt...


Lali 11-14-2009 07:39 AM

'Spike99' - My intent was not to offend you, but to suggest a simpler solution. I resided with a builder of homes, apts. & condos for many years, so understand fully the concepts of layering, drain tiling, etc. Perhaps your method does work, but know from experience that mine is a viable solution as well. Just out of curiosity: aren't all tree roots 'natural'?
And BTW - I ain't 'afriad' of diggin' in the dirt & playin' with the soil; the muckier the better, it's good for the soul & gets me closer to the earth. God Bless! :)

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