Improving a clay based lawn - help

Hi
Cananyone suggest what i should be doign to my lawn in march?
it is a clay based lawn that gets very hard in summer and therfor restricts colour and growth
I wouldliek toimprve the soild aeration and structure so have been ou forking it, but ned to knwo what to do next.
Add sand ? if so what sort?
I am told i should add gypsum as this will be absorbed easily an imprve soil profile ? - greta - but what is it and where can i get i in the uk?
all help gratfully received
Russell Jone
-- rushdenwolves
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The biggest problem with clay is that it does not hold water very long. This is good for areas that require quick drainage, little or no fauna. For good coverage of grasses, and moisture retention, you need a good topsoil at least 3 inches thick. You can get around doing a soil replacement by gradually building up your lawn annually with topsoil in early spring over 2 or 3 years by adding topsoil over your current lawn.
--
Jonny



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Russell:
I live in Indiana in the US and we have red clay. The one plus for us is that there is limestone in the area and that helps. Gypsum is basically lime dust. If you spread it on the ground it will help to break up the clay - over an extended period of time. The best thing you can do is amend the soil by topping it with top soil or organic peat. I got a new house last year that had virtually no topsoil as the lot was scraped by the developers. Fortunately we got sod so we had some topsoil there. However, I spread organic peat around some of the spots that needed leveling and continue to do so throughout the rest of the yard. This has had a tremendous impact on the health of the grass. This spring, the areas that have the organic peat greened up weeks ahead of the rest of the yard. You can also use peat moss but I found that the price for the area covered is about the same and organic peat has alot more nutrients. I can buy it in 40 pound bags for about $1 a bag. I just throw them on the ground, cut them open, dump them out and then use the back side of a garden rake to spread it out until it settles in and I can't see it anymore. As far as aeration goes, if you are going to be serious about it the best thing to do is rent a plug aerator or have someone do it for you. If you do this, make sure you do the aeration before you spread the peat. That way the peat can get down into the holes and start breaking down the clay even deeper. It will take a year or two to really get the full benefit of this but it is definitely worth it. Hope that helps.
Jay
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The basic choice you have is to do this on the installment plan over many years or do the fast solution. The many years approach is top dressing with a variety of materials as suggested. The do it now approach is to use a roto tiller to till up what's there and mix in some good humus to quickly establish 8 inchs of decent topsoil. Which is right depends on what the long looks like now, how bad it gets in summer, if the existing grass is a good variety or should be replaced, etc.
All kinds of material can be used to topdress or mix in, from peat moss, to compost made from leaves. It depends on what is available in your area and cost effective.
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