Grass Seed For Hard To Grow Areas - When we first bought our house, we wondered how to plant grass seed on hard dirt. We tried everything! Some things worked and some definitely didn't. Here's how we finally did it.
To plant grass seed on hard dirt, the hard dirt must be replaced before planting the grass seed. No amount of TLC after planting will make up for poor soil preparation. Air and organic matter must be introduced into the soil of the root zone before sowing grass. Enrich the soil first, then plant the grass seed.
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It wasn't the quick and easy solution we were looking for in the first place, but it has completely changed the way we think about our lawn. Read on for more information on how to grow grass in perfect soil.
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Hard dirt can occur when the soil particles are very small, such as in heavy clay soil. grass land
Also be hard because it gets compressed over time. Wild soil doesn't get too much foot traffic.
The lack of heavy movement allows air to exist in the few voids between the soil particles. People need this air! Therefore, compact soil that does not have much available air will not be the best for grass and grass roots.
The first step is to perform a soil analysis. Soil tests can determine how much clay, silt, sand, and organic matter your soil contains. They can also provide insight into what nutrients may be lacking.
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You can even check to see if the soil is compacted, but that's pretty far-fetched for a home garden. I used to test soil compaction on large construction sites (where compaction is desirable!). These types of soil compaction tests are fascinating, but not really designed for home gardens or their organic matter (hopefully).
Hard dirt in most residential lawns is caused by high clay content or soil compaction. A soil test will tell you if you have terribly heavy clay. This will tell you if your soil may have less organic matter than you expected. Or maybe your lawn was once a gravel driveway. It is difficult to grow healthy grass in an unknown growing environment.
Dirt becomes solid when air pockets are forced out of it. The air pockets may have been destroyed by glaciers thousands of years ago. Or maybe the car ran over the grass. Regardless of the reason, compacted soil does not have a pleasant mix of minerals, air and water.
We need to put a void back into the soil to hold air and water. Grass roots need direct access to both air and water.
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One way to re-introduce air into the soil is with a fan. The main fan is a machine that pulls out small plugs of dirt, leaving small air holes in the soil. The machine is about the size of a lawnmower and is usually available for rent. A lunch rental will suit most residential lawns.
Basic aeration is usually a good idea for residential lawns that are often compacted. This will create nice air spaces for the root zones of the grass. These voids also trap moisture to help the grass survive drought.
Aeration is often followed by composting the lawn. This involves using a wheelbarrow and rake to place an inch or so of bulk compost into the aerated lawn. This increases the amount of organic matter on the soil surface as well as in the vent holes.
At this point, many lawns will be ready for seeding. Note that you may need to aerate the core every spring and fall for several years to see a difference. It's not a short-term solution, but it's relatively simple and cost-effective.
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What if the dirt is still too hard to grow grass? Sometimes just compost aeration and top dressing
Just enough to create a well-draining soil that the grass likes. This is especially true for grass in clay soil. Grass may grow, but it will never flourish. Weeds, bare spots and puddles will always be a problem.
If the area of the future lawn is open and accessible, it is possible to loosen and improve the existing dirt (even if it is clay). This is usually done by digging up the top few inches of soil and mixing in organic matter. A common method is a rotary machine and compost.
Getting organic matter into the soil can be a bit drastic, especially if you use a machine... but it works. In our region, the processing of compost or composted manure leaves is common. It's a lot of work, but organic matter holds air well in the soil.
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Unfortunately, tilling the soil can also grow weed seeds. You will also need to spend extra time leveling the soil before planting the grass seed. Some people will work in the fall and level the soil a few times before and after winter to allow the bumps and irregularities to settle out of the lawn.
If all else fails (or is too much of a hassle), consider bringing in quality turf. Purchased topsoil can be placed on top of the existing soil. Because you know what you're working with, you'll have confidence that it drains well, is rich in organic matter, and has plenty of nice air spaces in the root zone.
Bringing in good topsoil is what finally worked for us. It actually turned out to be a little cheaper and more time consuming than we thought. We brought in a truckload of really good quality topsoil and just buried all the clay. No more clay tracking in the house and no more problems with the grass. It wasn't cheap, but we don't regret it. Totally worth it!
By "good topsoil" I mean actual soil dug out of the ground somewhere. The top layer of the soil is obtained as a whole product, not mixed from individual components. It also shouldn't be from anywhere where toxic agricultural chemicals could have been sprayed. There is also "manufactured topsoil" which can be simply composted manure mixed with sand, sawdust and wood shavings.
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In our area we have a wonderful local supplier of OMRI registered soil that is sourced and managed sustainably. If you have something similar in your area, this could be a great solution.
Bulk topsoil in our area is about $40 per yard. Our truck bed can fit about a yard, so you can imagine the cost of dirt is about $40 per truck full of soil. We started with one van and it went so well that we decided to do the whole yard.
We ordered a total of 20 yards of topsoil for both the back and front yards. Topsoil arrived in 2 truckloads. Including shipping and tax, the bulk order was about $900. It was enough to bury the clay in 6-8 inches of top soil. We launched and
The grass field a few times to let the air pockets settle, then smoothly cruised to grass city.
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If you're thinking of doing something similar, consider your yard measurements before ordering. Also, make sure you can change the result of your property like this. You may only need to cover a small area. Just do what you have to do! And be sure to buy your fertilized topsoil from a sustainable producer.
Most types of grass can grow 2 inches of topsoil if existing plants are healthy. Grass often grows through the topsoil when a thinner layer of topsoil is applied to an old lawn. Some grass (and possibly weeds) survive the topsoil and are able to push through the dirt.
For this reason, it's best to get rid of weeds in an old lawn if you plan to bring in a few inches of new topsoil. If the grass is being restored and you are reading an article here about growing grass on hard dirt, there are probably some weeds to contend with. Pull them out before putting in topsoil.
It will grow in dirt, but will not get the same nutrient availability as if grown in topsoil. On construction sites, wild grass can be seen growing on piles of fill dirt. Although turf grass will grow in dirt, it usually will not thrive.
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The fill is a building material and must not contain organic matter, as it is obtained from the soil below the topsoil. Filler is great for "filling in" low spots in the soil, but it doesn't have the broken down material that makes topsoil so great for grass.
Grass that will be planted on fill will do better if organic matter is incorporated into the soil before seeding. Loose, uncompacted fill may be fine with just a few inches of homemade compost or topsoil placed on top. Compacted fill should be loosened with a puller or at least a core aerator before compost or topsoil is added. Grass grows much better loose
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