The Q&A Archives: red clay

Question: I want to grow grass but I have red clay. I know that red clay is inhospitable to most plant life. I read that grass can be grown in red clay but you need to remove the current grass by tilling or herbicide. You also need to add lime but is there anything else that needs to be added. Help, Help

Answer: You can improve your clay soil by tilling it up and adding organic matter and you'll be able to grow a decent lawn. You'll want to remove the current turf and weeds either by digging them out or by applying a vegetation killer such as Round Up. Once the weeds are dead, rototill the area. Tillers can be rented from your local rental center or borrowed from a neighbor if you don't have one of your own. Spread a starter fertilizer over the now-loosened soil. This type of fertilizer is high in phosphorus, the middle number in the NPK sequence on a fertilizer bag. Also spread a soil conditioner over the soil. "Soil conditioner" is often what it's called at the store, but if you have a good supply of compost at home, it will serve just as well as a soil amendment. Again using the tiller, till the starter fertilizer and soil conditioner (or equivalent) into the soil. I know this seems like a lot of work, but good soil preparation is one key in seeding or sodding lawns successfully. Now rake the soil to begin to level it out, removing any rocks and debris that you find. To avoid problems with excess water-runoff, make sure that any site grading you do allows water to flow away from your house. This step requires a roller. Rollers, like tillers, can be rented from your local rental center. Fill the roller's drum with water, then use the roller to finish leveling the soil. Water the soil lightly. Whether you're installing sod or broadcasting seed, your soil is all ready to go. d. After the seed is broadcast or the sod is laid you will want to use the roller again. But first you'll empty out the water from the drum, because you want it lighter this time. Now roll the lawn surface to help the seeds (or the roots of the sod) make good contact with the soil. Good luck with your new lawn!

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