Soil too much clay - Knowledgebase Question

Silver Spring, Ma
Question by tabertom
November 18, 2009
I have a problem with clay in my yard and want to get it under control how do I do it

Answer from NGA
November 18, 2009


On the positive side, clay soils hold lots of nutrients. On the negative side, they tend to hold lots of water and compact readily. The best approach to improving clay soils is to add organic matter to loosen it and help it drain faster. This is usually easy to do in flower and vegetable beds, but not so easy to accomplish in established turf. As you plant your flower and vegetable beds, start by spreading 3-4 inches of compost or other organic matter over the surface and digging it in to a depth of 8-10 inches. After planting, spread another 2-3 inches over the bare soil to help suppress weeds and slow evaporation. At the end of the season dig this mulch material into the soil and add a few inches of fresh organic matter. After a few years of this practice you'll end up with rich garden loam instead of clay soil. You can periodically aerate your lawn by renting a core aerator. This machine removes 3 inch long, one inch wide plugs of soil. Leave the plugs on the lawn to dissolve and spread a half inch of compost or sand over the entire turf area. The compost or sand, along with the soil from the plugs will work their way down into the ground, loosening the soil and giving the grass roots a place to grow.

Improving clay soil can take a number of years, but the result is well worth the effort. Good luck with your landscape!

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