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Old 06-01-2019, 02:46 PM   #1
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Clumpy Topsoil


I'm in the process of laying sod in my backyard but the topsoil is quite clumpy and I'm not sure what, if anything, I should do about it. The clumps are small (3/4" and under).

Two days ago I tilled the subsoil (loam) and yesterday had my topsoil delivered which I spread out with a rake. There's approximately one foot of loam and two inches of topsoil.

It is very dry where I live and we get a significant amount of sun. I'm not entirely sure, but I believe the loam (and possibly topsoil) is heavy with clay.

Any tips are appreciated in advance
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Old 06-01-2019, 03:25 PM   #2
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


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Originally Posted by kjames05 View Post
I'm in the process of laying sod in my backyard but the topsoil is quite clumpy and I'm not sure what, if anything, I should do about it. The clumps are small (3/4" and under).

Two days ago I tilled the subsoil (loam) and yesterday had my topsoil delivered which I spread out with a rake. There's approximately one foot of loam and two inches of topsoil.

It is very dry where I live and we get a significant amount of sun. I'm not entirely sure, but I believe the loam (and possibly topsoil) is heavy with clay.

Any tips are appreciated in advance
Hmm.

General advice is to get out there and hack up the clumps as much as you can, though it sounds like a large area. I've not found tillers to be that useful, though you might want to try one.

Another thought is to get some people to help you.

How big is the area? Where are you? What kind of grass is it?
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Old 06-01-2019, 03:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by DoomsDave View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjames05 View Post
I'm in the process of laying sod in my backyard but the topsoil is quite clumpy and I'm not sure what, if anything, I should do about it. The clumps are small (3/4" and under).

Two days ago I tilled the subsoil (loam) and yesterday had my topsoil delivered which I spread out with a rake. There's approximately one foot of loam and two inches of topsoil.

It is very dry where I live and we get a significant amount of sun. I'm not entirely sure, but I believe the loam (and possibly topsoil) is heavy with clay.

Any tips are appreciated in advance
Hmm.

General advice is to get out there and hack up the clumps as much as you can, though it sounds like a large area. I've not found tillers to be that useful, though you might want to try one.

Another thought is to get some people to help you.

How big is the area? Where are you? What kind of grass is it?
Thanks for the reply. I'm in southern Alberta, Canada and I'm using Kentucky bluegrass with 20% red fescue. It's only about 200 sq ft.

You're right about the tiller. It worked great to break up some of the compact loam but I don't think it will help me to break up these tiny clumps. Doing it by hand is definitely not an option.
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Old 06-01-2019, 03:52 PM   #4
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


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Thanks for the reply. I'm in southern Alberta, Canada and I'm using Kentucky bluegrass with 20% red fescue. It's only about 200 sq ft.

You're right about the tiller. It worked great to break up some of the compact loam but I don't think it will help me to break up these tiny clumps. Doing it by hand is definitely not an option.
How about a picture?

You don't need to get the "fine tilth" required for seeding to lay sod properly. I suspect that you'll be okay as long as you can get the grass to lay down smoothly enough to contact the ground and root in again. I think that if you do a good job of raking things smooth, you'll be fine.

Clay is a blessing in disguise, if you work it right, especially in any place where it can get a bit dry. Clay will hold water well. (Pray to be spared from the Demons of Sand!)

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Old 06-01-2019, 04:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by kjames05 View Post
Thanks for the reply. I'm in southern Alberta, Canada and I'm using Kentucky bluegrass with 20% red fescue. It's only about 200 sq ft.

You're right about the tiller. It worked great to break up some of the compact loam but I don't think it will help me to break up these tiny clumps. Doing it by hand is definitely not an option.
How about a picture?

You don't need to get the "fine tilth" required for seeding to lay sod properly. I suspect that you'll be okay as long as you can get the grass to lay down smoothly enough to contact the ground and root in again. I think that if you do a good job of raking things smooth, you'll be fine.

Clay is a blessing in disguise, if you work it right, especially in any place where it can get a bit dry. Clay will hold water well. (Pray to be spared from the Demons of Sand!)

[IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.diychatroom.com/images/smilies/vs_cool.gif[/IMG]
Pics attached. The first is approximately a 12ft by 6ft section
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Clumpy Topsoil-20190601_153955_1559425251460.jpg   Clumpy Topsoil-20190601_154002_1559425281357.jpg  
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Old 06-01-2019, 07:12 PM   #6
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


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Pics attached. The first is approximately a 12ft by 6ft section
As Jewish people might say:

"OY! I should live so long to see such well-tilled doit'!"

I don't even wanna' ask how many slaves it took to do all that.

In other words, I think you're ready to go.

If someone else here disagrees, I'd love to hear their reasons.
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Old 06-01-2019, 07:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DoomsDave View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjames05 View Post
Pics attached. The first is approximately a 12ft by 6ft section
As Jewish people might say:

"OY! I should live so long to see such well-tilled doit'!"

I don't even wanna' ask how many slaves it took to do all that. [IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.diychatroom.com/images/smilies/vs_cool.gif[/IMG]

In other words, I think you're ready to go.

If someone else here disagrees, I'd love to hear their reasons. [IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.diychatroom.com/images/smilies/vs_cool.gif[/IMG]
The only thing I could think of is that it will be impossible for roots to try and force their way through the clumps. However, they can go around and eventually, with enough watering, they will soften up.
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Old 06-01-2019, 07:52 PM   #8
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


Those are just the lumps the question is how much clay do you have.
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:07 PM   #9
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


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The only thing I could think of is that it will be impossible for roots to try and force their way through the clumps. However, they can go around and eventually, with enough watering, they will soften up.
I think you're good to go.

As long as the roots touch ground and you keep it moist, should be good, though, thinking about it, maybe fescue might be better than bluegrass because it's tougher.
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:14 PM   #10
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


Second picture does look like clumps of dry clay. I would be a little ticked to see that much clay in the topsoil I ordered and paid for, but I am not sure what passes for topsoil in Alberta. Around here topsoil is black and fine. For some members of this forum, topsoil is supposed to be red. But if Dooms says you are good to go --- go for it.
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:24 PM   #11
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


@kjames05 , water, heavily. Copiously. A lot.

Lift up a day or two later and be sure.
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Old 06-01-2019, 08:32 PM   #12
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Re: Clumpy Topsoil


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Originally Posted by SPS-1 View Post
Second picture does look like clumps of dry clay. I would be a little ticked to see that much clay in the topsoil I ordered and paid for, but I am not sure what passes for topsoil in Alberta. Around here topsoil is black and fine. For some members of this forum, topsoil is supposed to be red. But if Dooms says you are good to go --- go for it.
Some clay helps it hold water and can save on watering.
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Old 06-02-2019, 09:33 PM   #13
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So, I woke up this morning and raked some of the larger clumps off and laid the sod. Spoke to two people at the garden centre and they both said I should be fine.

I will never do this job again. My body feels like it's dying.

Hopefully, everything will work out. I took a lot of extra time ensuring the edges had soil butted up so they don't dry out
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Old 06-03-2019, 07:03 PM   #14
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I have an emergency situation.

On the recommendation of the garden centre I used a lawn roller to smooth out the bumps and ensure the sod adhered to the topsoil. The roller pushed the soil through the seams and now it looks like a dog took a dump on my lawn.

What can I do?
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Old 06-03-2019, 07:06 PM   #15
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