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?
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.
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
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?)
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:
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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,
Is it possible to apply "too much" lime?
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.
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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