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Old 10-18-2017, 01:18 PM   #1
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How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


I have decent grass growing in a shady area in my yard that is always soft and gooey. I've been adding seed hoping that it would firm up but it doesn't seem to be working. Irrigation is dialled back as much as possible in that area. Is it true that adding some clean SAND could help firm up the soil? Seems counterintuitive. It was pretty low quality CLAY before the grass took hold. Thanks.
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Old 10-18-2017, 01:31 PM   #2
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


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Originally Posted by Enduroma View Post
I have decent grass growing in a shady area in my yard that is always soft and gooey. I've been adding seed hoping that it would firm up but it doesn't seem to be working. Irrigation is dialled back as much as possible in that area. Is it true that adding some clean SAND could help firm up the soil? Seems counterintuitive. It was pretty low quality CLAY before the grass took hold. Thanks.
Do what farmers do for soggy land, add drain tile. All kinds of stuff on youtube

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Old 10-18-2017, 01:48 PM   #3
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Over time adding sand might help it drain better but I would think it would take many years. The only quick way would be to add it and till it into the soil, which would destroy your existing grass.

I don't know how well or quickly it would work but I've heard of people core aerating and then putting sand into the holes.
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Old 10-18-2017, 02:16 PM   #4
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Once you add grass you slow the surface drainage and a flat lawn then has to rely on evaporation and uptake from the lawn. Add in your clay soil and it becomes more difficult.

Does your yard have any existing slope? Big mentioned farmers and you will often see a swale or pond out in the middle of a big field. The purpose is to give the water a place to collect.

Landscaping or burying some drainage are probably the best options. Any pictures?

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Old 10-18-2017, 02:27 PM   #5
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


I have heavy clay soil & it drives me crazy. It looks like Death Valley with a little grass on top. I should have roto-tilled it early on & amended the soil. Water just flows thru the big cracks, downward. No amount of surface amendment has helped, no amount of seed has helped. I've wasted a lot of money on grass seed, soil, fertilizer, etc. I've done everything I should have except roto-till the soil. It's also shady. I usually have nice lawns. All of California's groundwater should be healthy based on my watering!

So. . .unlike me, consider roto-tilling & amending the soil & find out why it's damp as previously mentioned.

Last edited by Nik333; 10-18-2017 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:00 PM   #6
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Pretty obvious you can't aerate it because it's wet, but i would at least add gypsum to it to help it dry out, if you add lime it will burn your existing grass, heres a link


http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/gree...s-lime-gypsum/
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:55 PM   #7
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Sounds like you will have to drain it as previously recommended
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Old 10-18-2017, 04:07 PM   #8
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Ya, the only way to firm up the wet soil is to remove some of the water. If it isn't an everyday occurrence you might get by with digging a french drain otherwise it would need to be piped away ..... assuming diverting the water before it gets there isn't an option.
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Old 10-19-2017, 06:33 AM   #9
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Check on using Gypsum here in the South it is called Land Plaster it is added to the clay soil to grow Peanuts.
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Old 10-21-2017, 09:31 AM   #10
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Growing grass in a shady area can be a real problem. Why not give it up. Gypsum as mentioned above might be a solution. It is used by building contractors. BTW you don't say where you live....
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:00 AM   #11
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


I read up on Gypsum & it has some pluses & minuses:

https://www.lawn-care-academy.com/gypsum-for-lawns.html

"If you search the internet you will find many sites on gypsum use. University tests conducted on gypsum's ability to soften landscape soils almost always differs from the many claims in home landscape forums. For that matter, even some researchers sometimes disagree on the benefits of gypsum.
Keep in mind that gypsum works differently in agricultural areas due to extensive and aggressive soil maintenance. The soil is often turned over to prepare for planting new crops, compared to lawns which are never turned once the lawn is established. In agricultural settings gypsum has proven itself and can improve heavy clay structure, improve plant root depth, drainage, etc.
However, gypsum does little to soften hard soils in home landscapes, as is often believed. Home soils are not easily affected by gypsum due to soil layering, heavy compaction, high organic content, etc. Coarse soils can actually be damaged by applying gypsum. Magnesium deficiency from gypsum for lawn application can result in some situations.
Gypsum will increase water filtration in saline soils, however. Salt prevents water absorption and blocks absorption into the roots. When the salt is removed by gypsum, the soil can again do its job in absorbing water and making it available to plant roots.

Last edited by Nik333; 10-21-2017 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:29 AM   #12
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


How bout rather than guessing do some soil testing before you start adding stuff only to discover later it was all in vain.
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Old 11-07-2017, 09:57 PM   #13
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Re: How to firm up soft mucky soil for grass area???


Some great info here thank you.. I don't have much slope but am going to experiment with some kind of drainage tile in the spring. Got snowed on last week so that's it for this season unfortunately. Thanks again for the ideas.
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