The Q&A Archives: Soil Amending

Question: The soil in Rail Road Flat, CA where we live is quite rocky, red in color and has lots of clay. I'm thinking of planting a green manure crop this fall to improve the soil before planting lawn next fall. What crop would be good and what type of lawn would be good?

Answer: Green Manure cover crops are plants that are grown, then incorporated into the soil to increase soil fertility and organic matter content. To grow a cover crop, you'll need to break the soil surface enough to allow growth of roots and tops of the selected crop. For fall sowing, choose Winter Rye (2-3 pounds), Austrian peas (1/2 pound), or Hairy Vetch (1-2 pounds). Be sure to turn these crops under before they produce flowers or they will self-sow and become perennial crops! Each time you grow a green manure cover crop and turn it under, you're improving the organic and nutrient content of the soil plus helping it drain well and hold reasonable amounts of moisture. All important elements of rich, loose, friable soil.

The best grass varieties for your area include Kentucky Bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.

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