How to address clay soil in existing lawn - Ask Extension
Hello, we have very heavy clay in our yard, including under an established lawn. Is there something that we can put on top to help break up the clay ...
How to address clay soil in existing lawn #833432
Asked June 02, 2023, 5:13 PM EDT
Hello, we have very heavy clay in our yard, including under an established lawn. Is there something that we can put on top to help break up the clay and promote drainage without damaging the grass? Would something like pelletized calcium sulfate help? Any other suggestions?
If you have an established lawn, regular fertilizer and watering should keep it in good condition. This web page describing calcium sulfate seem to hint at its use as a fertilizer, but nothing clearly states that it will break up clay soil. From this web site: /agbmps.osu.edu/bmp/amending-soils-lime-or-gypsum-nrcs-333
A soil test from the U of MN is a better idea. Go to: "soiltest.cfans.umn.edu" for submission directions. The test should cost $19.00.
This web page describes lawn care. "extension.umn.edu/lawns-and-landscapes/lawn-care."
Thank you for your response. Our problem is that in spite of watering and fertilizer the water is not penetrating the soil very well so we have standing water and week grass because it can't get the root depth. If you hear of any other possibilities please let me know.
Core aeration will help. It pushes tines into the soil and removes thin tubes of dirt. Water and organic matter (like grass clippings) can then penetrate lower into the soil. It does not improve it very deeply, but gets the layer that supports the grass roots. The yard looks a little funky for a week or so after aerating until the plugs start to break down, but it helps with compacted soil.
You can hire a company to do it or rent a machine that looks kind of like a lawn mower. I live in a rural area and also have clay. It gets compressed from equipment (ATV, backhoe when putting in the dock, etc.) so I bought something that tows behind the ATV or riding mower. After a few years of that, my yard looks a lot better and the grass has a fighting chance over the weeds.
Don't fall for the push-in things like the spikes that go on shoes. They don't work. Well, they are probably good for exercise, but they don't do anything for your yard.
This work is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.