Solid clay garden am I doing the right thing?

Hi guys,
This is my first post and I'll confess from the start I'm new to gardening!
I have a garden in hull that is made entirely of clay and is a swamp all winter and looks like the surface of the moon as soon as the sun comes out. A couple of years ago I dug a soakaway trench the full lenghth of the garden and about five feet down you get to the sand underneath. We then back filled this with sea gravel and crushed brick and top soil and so we have a three foot wide strip that doesn't flood anymore but the rest of the garden is unchanged.so we weeded it out all the dandelions brambles and dock leaves bought tones of chipped bark and covered it all over to give our little one somewhere to play. The bark is now breaking down and my wife wants a lawn so I have been looking into conditioning the soil which has brought me here. The clay is really acidic so I'm looking at using garden lime rotivated in along with the bark that's already there. then was going to put a few tonns of gravel and sharp sand down and rotating that in and then dressing with top soil and either seeding or turfing the whole lot!
Does this sound like it makes sense or would it be wise to do something else?
And what sort of ratio sand gravel soil would work best? I was thinking pretty much equal amounts of each but would love some advice!
This plan has come from searching the Internet which as we all know is 20% wrong and 80% porn so this may all be completely ridiculous. Thanks for your help and advise
Paul
--
Jinjah


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Your overall plan doesn't sound too bad but having a good soil test done prior will guide you much better. The test should give you specific advice on the fertilization protocol for your particular plants/soil, as well as recommendation of type, quantity, etc of minerals for liming. Lot of reasons for this such as whether you will need calcitic and dolomitic lime. Anything you do should be based off of this test. I'm sure you can find a lab close to you. A good test here in the US is ~ 13-15$. Its cheap at twice the price.
BTW billy: 4-10% OM is considered acceptable limits
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I mentioned it would be hard during dry spells. However it will still look just as nice as any other lawn. I will also agree the gravel is a waste of money unless your are putting in a path, then put down a "Road Tarp", heavier than landscaping tarp, then put down the gravel or road mix (concrete mixed with gravel) on top. The gravel on top of clay will just sink into the ground.
When it comes to soil improvement, the old saying is true. Their are three aspects to improving soil, "Quickly", "Low Cost" and "Quality" Choose any two items. The method I choose was Low Cost and Quickly, Quality of the soil will not be the best in the short term. I think that is how the phrase goes :)
Also you mentioned "low area" for water to soak in. Clay does not soak in. It will stay there until it evaporates. You will only form a small stagnant pond for mosquitoes.
As for your broken collar bone. One should never put their arms out to try and stop the fall, the result will be a broken collar bone on any kind of surface except water perhaps. One should tuck the arms in and turn the body to the side and hit the ground with the shoulder and roll onto the surface. Karate lessons would have taught you this :)... Or even football.
They can build a small sand box area for the kids swing set. Or better yet a DoJo in the basement :)
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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really very true. Everyone should have at least a couple weeks of judo lessons when they teach you how to fall. Living in the land of ice and snow it has come in very handy indeed. The older I get, the more thankful I am that I got this training.
Ingrid
ood

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Somewhere between zone 5 and 6 tucked along the shore of Lake Michigan on the council grounds of the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Winnebago
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snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.com wrote:

If falling, it is best to look at you belt buckle to avoid hitting the back of your heard when you land. If you're falling off a ladder, all bets are off. Old people have no business climbing ladders.

--
- Billy

Bush's 3rd term: Obama plus another elective war
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In article

Consider Tai Chi.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15814861
or http://thurly.net/1ebp
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden

"The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow." - Anon
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The kinder, gentler way to convert an adversary into mulch.

"Gardening is something you learn by doing - and by making mistakes, like cooking, gardening is a constant process of experimentation, repeating the successes and throwing out the failures." - Carol Stocker, American gardening columnist.
--
- Billy

Bush's 3rd term: Obama plus another elective war
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In article

I was told awhile back to find out where your adversary wants to park his car and then help him do it.
Arcane ?
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden

"The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow." - Anon
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Naw. Jersey marshland is kinda traditional for this kind of thing ;O)
"I always think of my sins when I weed. They grow apace in the same way and are harder still to get rid of." - Helena Rutherfurd Ely, 'A Woman's Hardy Garden', 1903
--
- Billy

Bush's 3rd term: Obama plus another elective war
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Nad R wrote: ...

i have several catch basins/seeps here in solid clay and they work just fine. not speedy, but they eventually dry up. with mosquito control pumping tons of poisons into the air all around us we don't see too many mosquitoes. i make places for frogs and toads around and the birds come through swooping around to catch them when they are out.

i had several years of karate as a child and tai chi as an adult. ;) neither of those will avert determined klutzoid antics. i was diving for a softball and knew i was going to hit the ground. i twisted in midair to land on my back but didn't quite make it and landed on the point of my shoulder.
for tumbling skills i would recommend aikido or jujitsu/judo over karate any time. or even simple gymnastics...
when i was going through my chinese martial arts phase i wanted to get into baqua and another style called drunken sailor, but my sense of balance is very sensitive and i ended up barfing. i could do some tai chi and chi kung moves that had spins in them because most of the practice was slow enough that it didn't bother me. if i stepped up the speed (as would happen in an actual fight or demonstration) i would get rather green around the gills.
the skills from tai chi, chi kung, and karate have helped me at times when i've slipped on ice or had a conflict (a good life is one that doesn't involve fighting so i've been pretty lucky over the years in that i've only had a few fights). philosophically tai chi and chi kung was much better for me.
as a test of my skills i have a nephew that liked to try things on me. once he came after me, i deflected him, turned him around and tied him up like a pretzel within a second. pure reflex. the logical extension of the movement i used would have been to twist his neck (breaking) but of course i stopped when i had him pinned. he wanted me to show him how i did it. i said "three years of practice we can start any time". no action on his part since then, and he leaves me alone. ;) this was after not practicing for many years.
i now practice no martial art at all other than kung fu weeding and the once in a while plink at the grackles, chipmunks and rabbits.

i think they should take up basket weaving with rose stems. builds hand-eye coordination, judgement and character...
songbird
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Nad R wrote:

I think this depends on what you mean by "growing grass in clay". I have direct comparisons here between growing grass in clay-based silt, in plastic clay and a mixture of the two. It is really obvious that (here at least) grass does not do well in plastic clay and many weeds infiltrate, it does very well in silt and in a mixture it is intermediate.
This comparison does give some hope though as the mixture can be converted to useful soil by growing grass on it and mulching in the cuttings. My understanding is that breaking up the solid clay allows water, air and roots to penetrate which gives the grass a start and from then on the roots going into the lumps combined with the mulched grass mixed in gradually breaks up the lumps. It takes years to change though.
The OP describes the yard as "solid clay" so with that and the drainage problems I suspect there is going to be much work and/or time to making a decent lawn that will cushion child's play. I suggest a small play area covered with bark to make do until the the rest is ready or the child grows up, whichever comes first.
David
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Grass does grow in clay. When it rains the clay turns very mushy (technical gardening term) and stays mushy for a long time which helps in germination. When first putting down the grass seed it does need to put down heavy because of the weeds. But first I scratch the ground or scape it then lightly water it to prevent the grass seed from washing away on a dry surface. When the clay is wet it become muck (another technical term) and hard to to spread when your ankle deep in muck.
I estimate nighty percent of my yard is heavy clay. Over time the ground has softened and the large dry cracks are gone. In the beginning the were no worms in the ground and the field meadows had no root structure below an inch. Now I have lots and lots of worms in my lawn. The birds have a feast after a rain.
I aerate the lawn and mulch the clippings during the summer. I bag the clippings in the spring and fall to prevent weeds from spreading. Right now my yard is soaking wet, It has rained almost every other day. My grass is getting very tall and has nice dark green color. But too wet to mow now.
http://nadrhel.com/Summer.html
The grassy area in my yard is all clay. I think the grass looks ok from my web site. There is one photo that shows the grass on the brown side which was taken in the middle of summer. Even the meadows next to my lawn is composed mostly of clay.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Don't forget your ol' friends, rye, and buckwheat.
"The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men's apples and heads of their cabbages." ~Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656
--
- Billy

Bush's 3rd term: Obama plus another elective war
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The friends are in the meadow, however ever their roots do not go very deep in the clay and grow well. I would much rather have clay than sand. When I leave this planet, in a space ship I hope, the soil will be in much better shape where I lived.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Here is the soil test I have my students do. http://weloveteaching.com/2011/labs/rocks/lab-rock-cycle.html However, I think it is important to figure out what else might be missing. Where I grew up was clay over sand. We added gypsum and peat and rotted manure (there used to be a farm close by). Once you get worms working the soil it will drain better. Ingrid
e garden soil should be about 5% organic material.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Somewhere between zone 5 and 6 tucked along the shore of Lake Michigan on the council grounds of the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Winnebago
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