I just had a new basment put in under my house. I now have a large
area of nothing but pure clay in the front yard. I'd like to have
fresh black dirt brought in and have the yard topped off. The guy at
the local landscaping shop said the go with about 2". Is this enough
dirt to grow good grass? Anything special I should do before I plant
the new lawn? What type of grass grows good in the Northern U.S. ? The
lawn will have partal shade, and some foot traffic.
A bluegrass lawn is best. About 6 inches of topsoil is about right. You
may have to remove some of the clay and regrade the subsoil to get an even
distribution of topsoil.
I doubt very much that 2" will give you a healthy root system.
Six inches may be enough, but I used up to about a foot, to level out
a bowl-shaped lawn. That was 40 years ago. I have found that I do
not need to water my lawn,even during our Pennsylvania droughts,
(deep roots) and I haven't fertilized it for at least ten years, maybe
twenty. I just mow it high, 3", with a mulching mower and let the
Two inches of topsoil is probably enough; but, six to twelve
would be better. However, you then get into issues of grading
and economics. Go with a mixed grass lawn that's been blended
for your locale. [I would recommend purchasing it from a
reputable local garden center rather than a hardware store; it
might be a tad more expensive there, but you are far more likely
to get a local blend rather than whatever major distributor the
hardware store has contracted with this year.] Not every grass
does as well in every set of microconditions. Even small
variations in sun/shade, nutrients, and moisture can affect
growth. With a mixed seed, you'll maximize the probability that
all parts of your lawn will be colonized by an appropriate
grass. If you really want to go for high-quality soil prep, get
a couple of inches of topsoil spread, till it in, and then spread
a couple more inches on top of that. Remember to tamp the seed
into place, protect against erosion, and water lightly daily
until new growth is well-established. If there are places that
will have DAILY foot-traffic, you might as well figure out
something else for them than lawn -- stepping stones, a path,
etc. Grass simply will not thrive with daily wear.
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