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Old 02-08-2019, 03:25 PM   #16
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


007noob, you can look up much of the geology by searching for your area. There are lots of Geological maps & work done by USGS as well as Universities, etc. I assume you're in the US? It can tell you what is deep.


The construction crews may have added a lot of fill.


I would think the gravel would help drainage but I'm not the one roto-tilling the land.
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:27 PM   #17
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


Yup... Iím in central NJ
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:33 PM   #18
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


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San Fernando Valley?
Nah, Moreno Valley. A local rag made a big deal over the fact that Marilyn Chambers TV was available there, so I called it [email protected] Valley.

The San Fernando Valley I call Silicone Valley, to distinguish it from that other one up North. Near Sam Frank's Disco.

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Old 02-09-2019, 07:44 AM   #19
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


Could tilling too deep kill those trees? Tree roots maybe spread out and near the surface. Also is it sunny side? Instead of focusing on grass, how about more gravel? When the dirt is loose during rain, spread gravel and work it in by walking over them? If amending, I'd assume the trees could die and then till in the top soil and roll it but sloping away from the house.
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Old 02-09-2019, 04:43 PM   #20
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


Itís not the sunny side. Sun light blocked by the deck structure and magnolia. The roots for the big tree are big enough not to be damaged by the tiller - itíll just bounce right of the root


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Old 02-13-2019, 10:42 AM   #21
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


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The house is old, built in the mid 90s.
Unless you mean the 1890s, that's not old.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:19 AM   #22
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


If you go tilling there you will probably kill both of those trees. Also the area looks like a walk area to the back yard mostly. If it were me, I'd put down more stepping stones and make a wide pathway. Then plant stuff on either side that tolerates clay, get rid of the grass there altogether. Many people add peat or sand to help with clay, but it doesn't work usually. You can google that and read up on it yourself. The only way to fix clay is to till it deep, remove some of the clay, and put in organic compost. You can fix clay by putting compost on top, however it takes years. If you till it and work it in, it is faster. You can also buy earthworms to add to the soil AFTER you put in the compost. (they cannot live in heavy clay). Also since this is close to the house, you need to make sure there are no utilities under the area where you til. I wouldn't till it all though, unless you want to risk losing the trees. This area will always be a battle for you if you want grass there, and you want to keep the trees too.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:56 PM   #23
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


I would definitely do a soil test to see what you have there - maybe from a couple places, and at different depths. I thought I had a lot of clay, but found it was actually very sandy dirt. It was just really dead, dry and compacted.
I wasn't trying to keep mine at the level it was like you probably are, as I was going to put mulch and plant some edibles.
I put about an inch or two of compost - got a yard from a local nursery for about $24 - filled the bed of a Ridgeline to just overflowing. 1/2 yard would be more than enough for what you might need probably.
I then put wood chips on it.
Watered off and on for 6 months.
The soil came back to life.
Worms were back and the compost seemed to help then start breaking down the compacted dirt so things would grow again.
My orange tree nearby made a pretty amazing comeback.
If it is indeed clay, I think compost will also help in that case, but not sure 100% on that.
Since you want grass back in there, I'd probably stay away from wood chips added into the mix. I've heard they will steal the nitrogen out of the soil. I just keep layering them on top as a mulch, not something mixed into the soil.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:24 PM   #24
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


lookup greensand, broadcast it across your lawn. It will help break up the clay.
But you may not want to wait for that to work and take the more drastic action.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:44 PM   #25
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


I found a couple articles including Central New Jersey, one simple & one complex.


https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/20...ls-new-jersey/


https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/.../DUNELLEN.html
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:53 PM   #26
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Re: Softening hard clay soil


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