How To Create A Healthy Lawn in Clay? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 08-13-2010, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We live in St. Louis. It's considered a "transition zone" because the temps can swing pretty wildly here.

We built a house about 3 years ago and our lawn is a mess. Most lawns in our neighborhood are. We've discovered that we basically have no topsoil. Just clay and rock. We've tried natural methods: "natural", "organic" fertilizers and those special concoctions (vinegar, beer, etc). Nothing works. I really think that our grass isn't growing well because there's no real soil. But what can we do short of stripping off all the sod, adding real topsoil and resodding?

DH wants to get Zoysia, but from what I've read our lawn will be brown 6 months of the year. Plus, it will take us anywhere from 2-5 years to have an established lawn.

What can we do?
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#2 of 4 Old 08-13-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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Good topsoil is full of organic matter: decayed live stuff. You can build that up over time. Add composted manure, composted kitchen scraps and leaves. Leave the cut grass on the lawn or compost it then put it back - never throw it out unless the weeds are *bad*, even then a good hot compost pile can kill seeds and turn it back into safe good soil.

To really get it in there, you can aerate the lawn before spreading the composted manure. Rent an aerator that you push back and forth like a lawn mower while it pokes holes in the sod. Then spread the compost or manure and rake it in. To thicken the lawn back up add grass seed afterward when you've got mild weather that won't scorch or freeze new grass.
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#3 of 4 Old 08-18-2010, 11:12 AM
 
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Just wanted to second the idea of spreading composted manure (or other compost) over the grass each year, and mulching your grass clippings. It won't improve the lawn immediately, but over time the soil will get better.

I've also spread rabbit food (the alfalfa pellets) over my lawn in the past. If you buy them in large bags from a feed store, it is a cheap way of getting organic material into the soil. Depending on how many issues you have with rabbits, though, this may not be your best option. I don't have a ton of rabbits here, so what little they ate was more than repaid with bunny droppings, which were probably even better for the soil than the alfalfa pellets.
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#4 of 4 Old 08-18-2010, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks ladies! I think these are great ideas. I told DH and he's def. willing to give it a try, which I'm psyched about!
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