I have a section of lawn in a shady area that seems to have become too
miserable to keep grass growing thickly. The grass is sparse. Applying
fertilizer and grass seed does not seem to have much effect. It is
clay soil and well packed. I don't know if I need to apply something
or simply give up and rototill in a load of horse manure? Any
semi-expert opinions? Thanks.
Shady area need less fertilization not more. That might be part of your
I've had great success w/ Creeping Red Fescue in southern Ontario, Canada
for shady areas. It never fills in like Bluegrass, but seems to take in very
Not even a "semi" here - but I have clay, clay, and more clay - and the
grass keeps growing - but for the most part it is very wet in the spring.
There is a "clay buster" avaailable but the name is not coming to me right
now. Somebody will come up with it - it's a common solution - and availble
at most garden centers around here.
That article talks about Arizona soil problems. And, it is concerned with
sodium overload. The key quote from the article is: "In situations such
as this, applications of gypsum can provide a dramatic improvement in
returning the soil to its original condition. The calcium present in gypsum
actually displaces the sodium and allows it to be leached deeper into the
soil when accompanied by deep irrigation."
A persistent myth is that gypsum alleviates compaction. Landschoot states
unequivocally that this is not the case. This misunderstanding may stem
from the fact that gypsum is useful for displacing sodium in sodic soils.
Sodium causes soil particles to disperse, hence destroying soil structure.
However, this isn't really an issue in the Northeast or any other regions
where rainfall is high enough to naturally leach the sodium out of the
soil. Rather, compacted soils in such areas tend to result from the usual
factors such as traffic and high clay content. Gypsum won't influence these
things, so it can't substitute for practices that relieve compaction such
First thing I'd check is if there are tree surface roots in the area.
It's impossible to grow grass with species like Norway maples in the
area. Trees like these have surface roots that take all the nutrients
and choke off the grass.
I agree with adding organic material. I'd do it by renting a core
aerator which will punch holes in the soil and help reduce the
compaction. After aeration, spread the organic material, which will
make it's way into the holes. If you get this done now, you can
reseed with a good shade mix in the fall.
Ya but...It's puzzling how folks spend so much time and concern on their
lawn but show no interest what's above. If the tree is causing a significant
part of the problem, why not prune it so it will provide more light?
Arborists will recommend pruning at least every four or five years. When I
was in a local garden club I was surprized that not one member had any tree
work done until some storm blew the damned things over.
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