Loose Soil

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Travis, I replied to you in good faith and am doing so now. If you are experiencing a genuine, new difficulty recognising common garden terms and comprehending simple explanations, please consult your doctor asap. Such symptoms combined with irrationality, sometimes precede a stroke. Janet.
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Cool your jets, Janet.
We are talking about soil not your loose morals.
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All this strife over the term "topsoil." Actually, the scientific term of this part of the soil is first horizon. In the first horizon is where most of the biota resides. It has all types of macro and micro organisms, everything from worms to beneficial nematodes. The way to make soil on the top horizon is to add organic matter, consistently, till you have loam. In the case of clay, one needs to wait till the soil has a good moisture content (not too wet, or dry) and loosen it with a fork, breaking up the clods, adding compost. You add as much as you can afford if what you are looking to do is plant species which like rich soil.
In other words, there is no firm definition for "top soil" outside of an explanation of what it should be or could be. In Austin, TX there are areas where there is a half foot of soil then bedrock. In my garden, my soil is 4 feet deep, up the block on the top of the hill, it's caliches a foot down.
You have to decide what you want to plant, then amend the soil accordingly. Succulents do not need a rich top horizon, where possibly an English cottage garden may require this type soil.
opined:

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Sigh.....
Two days after a nice steady rain, you take a handful of soil and squeeze it. Then, you break it up. If it crumbles like cake, it's well within the realm of "structurally OK". It may still need nutrients or pH adjustment, but that's another issue which has nothing to do with this one. Do you see lots of happy little bugs and/or worms? Reason to celebrate.
Why does everything have to be so complicated?
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opined:

I think you mean texture. Structure is the mineral content of the soil and the level of organic matter. Texture describes crumble.
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Structure and texture both sound like mechanical qualities to me. Mineral content sounds like a chemical quality. Oh well.
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Mineral
Soil "texture" refers to the size of the particles in a mineral soil. It is a basic property, not readilly subject to change. Mineral soil is composed of small particles: sand 2mm-0.05mm silt 0.05-o.002mm clay less than 0.002mm Loam is a mixture of almost equal parts of each.
"structure" refers to the grouping and arrangement of these soil particles. Particles form aggregates or granules aided by "humus" a sticky gel like substance formed by decompostition of OM. Humus binds the particles together to form "crumbs". There are spaces between the crumbs called "pores" or pore space, occupied by air and water. Good soils are said to have "good crumb"
So I would say that your are correct, Doug.
Emilie NorCal I got this info from a soil text when I did a presentation to the garden club.
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Thank you. I just garden. I don't define things in gardening any more than in making love. The approach works.
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In the hands of a beginner, actual "peat" can produce results ranging from "hmmm...." to "disaster". By "beginner", I'm referring to the ever-increasing legions of people who don't seem to know what a library is, and how to plan far enough ahead to have time to read a book or two, or (heaven forbid) locate a real garden center run by grizzled old people who actually know what they're talking about.
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In the hands of a beginner, actual "peat" can produce results ranging from "hmmm...." to "disaster". By "beginner", I'm referring to the ever-increasing legions of people who don't seem to know what a library is, and how to plan far enough ahead to have time to read a book or two, or (heaven forbid) locate a real garden center run by grizzled old people who actually know what they're talking about.
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In the hands of a beginner, actual "peat" can produce results ranging from "hmmm...." to "disaster". By "beginner", I'm referring to the ever-increasing legions of people who don't seem to know what a library is, and how to plan far enough ahead to have time to read a book or two, or (heaven forbid) locate a real garden center run by grizzled old people who actually know what they're talking about.
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It sounds to me like the grass grows in this area, but is easily pulled up with a rake. That could be an indication that insects are eating the roots, particularly in an established lawn.
I suspect, however, that you just strewed the top soil about, and never compacted it, so the soil is not cohesive enough to hold the new grass when you rake.
One of the steps that is often skipped when putting in a new lawn from seed, is to roll the soil. This makes it smooth and sturdy. If you skip that step, your lawn will be lumpy at best, as the forces of nature compact it in some areas and not in others. Of course, after your lawn has been established for a while, the soil will become too compacted, and you will have to aerate it. The very best lawns are alternatively rolled (compacted) and aerated over the years.
If I have read your situation accurately, I would suggest you roll the new soil (rent a roller, or just put some water in a small barrel and roll it over the area), barely loosen the surface with light raking, reseed (covered with straw or cheesecloth) and keep the area moist until you have full germination, remove the cheesecloth (straw can just be left there; the grass will grow through it), hold off mowing until a dry day when the grass is at least two inches tall, then mow frequently, but skip the raking until the grass is very well established. There is usually no reason for raking unless you have leaf coverage in the fall. Grass clippings can be left in place to decompose.
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