Is clay in the lawn a problem?

My neighbour tells me that my lawn is struggling (in terms of colour and strength), in spite of my best efforts, because when the house was built, witnessed by him, there was "a lot of clay in the soil."
What can be done to a lawn that has a lot of clay? Is there a particular treatment that would lessen whatever adverse effect is caused by clay?
Thanks.
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Elena Sofia wrote:

lime.
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I think ya got the right idea - but don't you mean gypsum ?
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Srgnt Billko wrote:

Can it be applied anytime without interfering with the fertilizing/week-killing schedule?
Exactly what does lime or gypsum do to the clay?
Thanks.
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Srgnt Billko wrote:

no. lime.
the first real problem needing correction where grass is to be grown in heavy clay content soil is to correct the pH of the heavy clay soil. a pH of 7 is ideal for most all grass types. clay most always test at a pH of 4 to 4.8 it takes one ton of lime to the acre to move the pH one point on that one acre of land. after having the clay soil tested to gain a starting point break the applications down into 4 to 6 applications separated by at least 4 week intervals. also most yards are not a full acre after we subtract square footage for the house, driveway, shop, pool and patio. great care and caution should be exercised to avoid applying lime to areas near azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwoods and other acid soil loving plants. drop spreaders mostly suck, however, if one can not learn to control the width of the broadcast from a broadcast spreader then they are at the mercy of the confounded drop spreaders when applying lime near those acid lovers.
lime is the secret to a beautiful healthy lush green lawn. lots of good stuff locked in that clay and once the pH is moved up to a 7 that plant food is released and becomes available to the plants. most people prefer ruining our environment with a 15.00 dollar bag of fertilizer than actually improving the soil with a 3.00 dollar bag of lime. oh, and lime should actually be purchased at your local Farm supply dealer for $2.70 a 40 pound bag.
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Elena Sofia wrote:

stop wasting money with fertilizing weed killing schedule.

corrects the pH. soil with a correct pH of 7 for grass will not need weed killers. the grass will become so thick and lush the weeds will be choked out. also, most weeds don't like a pH above 6.5, they can't thrive and reproduce. lime takes lots of time to do it's magic. a new customer tossed lots of money at their previous lawn care bOY. bOY did lots of fertilizing and weed killing, then reseeding. bOY was in a repeat cycle and milking the customer for lots of money. at the same time I had their neighbor's yard and it took a year to make it work. they were willing to wait and make it right and lasting. now I have the yard that is burned up with fertilizing and weed killing and in about a year their lawn will be just as beautiful as their neighbor's lawn.
the root of the problem was how the neighborhood was constructed. all the top soil was scraped away, trees knocked down and houses built. yards sodded or seeded without any soil conditioning. lawns lasted long enough to sell the houses and then died. sad, but that's what most americans receive when they purchase in a newly built neighborhood.

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Jim Ledford wrote:

Short of having to redo the lawn from scratch, what can one do, if anything, to work with an existing soil that was poorly conditioned from the beginning. Is there such poor conditioning that may make it necessary to just start all over, or is there always hope by taking the right corrective action. (For example, you described earlier the effect of lime on heavy clay soil. Can there be so much clay that it's impossible to or impractical to do anything?)
Thank you.
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Elena Sofia wrote:

correct. attack that pH problem first and foremost. consult with your local county or state soil and water government services. mine is on the web at this link:
http://www.wakegov.com/environment/conservationdistrict/conservation/Soils.htm
my tax dollars provide this service and I take advantage of what they already know as well as their ability to test the soil samples I send to them. not only do they test for pH they also can determine mineral nutrient content.
a correct pH for lawn health is the most important and should always be the first consideration and first correction.

I bet your soil test come back with a pH below a 7 which means your soil is acid. the pH scale goes from 1 to 14. 7 is neutral, below 7 is acid and above 7 is alkaline. look at a box of miracle grow mir-acid for azaleas and you'll observe the numbers 30-10-10. the first number is nitrogen and in cheap man made fertilizers is made from ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate and both are acid. notice any rust on the metal parts of your fertilizer spreader? anyhow, you are trying to move the soil pH from acid towards neutral so applying high nitrogen content fertilizers will inhibit and discourage pH correction.

yes be very careful because you can kill them quickly with lime. if you realize soon enough this mistake has been made then you can correct it with sulfanilamide applied at the base of the acid loving plants.

yes, that's why I break the recommend application amount into 4 to 6 different applications with at least 4 weeks in-between each application. when the pH of the soil moves towards neutral the nitrogen which is bonded and locked into the soil will be released and made available to whatever grass is there. if this happens on a cool season grass during hot weather the grass is going to get burned up and die. if this happens to a hot weather grass during hot weather the grass is going to jump green and if it gets water it will thrive. you'll think you just fertilized. pellet lime takes about 6 months to start changing the soil pH. time your applications with the time of year and the type of grass you are working to have. pulverized lime works in about 4 months. nobody likes working with pulverized lime. observe the top picture on the web page of mine I'm about to share with you. see the dust cloud behind the application truck? that's pulverized agricultural lime making that dust cloud?
http://personalpages.bellsouth.net/t/h/theplanter/lime-day.html
as for your continuing lime program. due to acid rain the 30,000 square foot lawns I manage get 80 pounds of lime spread evenly 3 times a year. this is on going and after the larger applications to correct acid soils.

you are welcome. :)
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Elena Sofia wrote:

work with the lime get the pH correct. mow what lawn you got and be patient while the lime works it's wonderful thingie..
observe the bottom picture on this web page. at my shooting sports club we scraped the earth flat and bare to create our 200 yard rifle range. the grass you see in that bottom picture is fescue growing in pure red clay. took a year and a half to make that. it's located in Franklin county NC. the air temps are running around 90F in June and even hotter now in July.
http://personalpages.bellsouth.net/t/h/theplanter/barrier.html
with lime you can make it work, just be patient.
one more thing. I read your other post. you got pine trees over that lawn? NEVER NEVER mow pine straw into your lawn. rake it up first. everything falling from a pine tree is pure acid. let a pine cone lay for 3 days and then look at the grass under it.
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Jim Ledford wrote:

If I understand you correctly, I should bother fertilizing, since lime will raise the pH level to a point in which fertilization and weed-killing is unnecessary. However, just out of curiousity, if I were to fertilize, would THAT interfere in any way with corrective activities of lime? Also, if a fertilizer is applied shortly before or shortly after the lime application, would that cause any problems?

An alternative would be not to get too close to the acid-loving plants, right?
Is it possible to apply "too much" lime?

Interesting. Thank you.
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test the soil first and then add lime IF the ph needs adjusting to somewhere near 6.5-7. The soil test comes first. You can get this done professionally or home test kits give you a rudimentary idea (depends on how accurate you want to be/money you want to spend). Killing weeds and feeding regimes come after that. Soils have a natural process of making nutrients available to plants. The soil, and the host of organisms in it, needs to be in a place where it can work properly. A likeness, you having a shower to get ready for work whilst you are still in bed. The shower is to get clean, lying in bed won't help you. You have to get up and place yourself in the shower.
A good feeding regime from there will improve both your soil and plant growth. Organic material is preferable over synthetic fertilisers. It feeds the soil organisms who in turn feed and care for your plants.
If your soil ph is close to 6.5 or 7 then gypsum will deal to a clay soil.
Get assistance from the retailer as to how much lime you need to apply to balance up your soil. If you get a professional soil test, ask the testing agency for details of how much lime to apply and when to apply it.
There are 2 types of lime, agricultural lime (calcium carbonate) which is slow acting and hydrated or slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) which is faster acting but should not be used with fertilisers. Be sure which type you are getting and the advice matches the type of lime.
rob
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George.com wrote:

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good information Rob! good job!
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George.com wrote:

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a friend once jokingly stated how he was born knowing everything but has since forgotten a few things and as such on occasion has the need to consult reference material.
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Before applying lime or anything else based on a neighbors memory of what the soil contained when it was graded, I'd have the soil tested. Many states have an agr ext service where you can get a complete analysis of the soil, including it;s PH, compostion and advice on how to improve it, for a reasonable fee of about $10.
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