Since one of the biggest … Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. We would love to show how it’s done. If the soil in your lawn clumps together and your grass is brown and patchy, you likely have clay soil. Cover the surface of the trenches with gravel or small stones. Ask us about it. Clay soil is particularly susceptible to compaction. If the soil in your lawn clumps together and your grass is brown and patchy, you likely have clay soil. Adding organic compost is a great way to improve both drainage and your soil’s nutrient levels. Keep poking holes, every 4 inches if poss and then brush in some sharp sand to aid drainage. The … I have had no success with them here, and the shop-bought ones are horrible. (3-6 oz per square yard). Injecting air pockets into clay soil is essential for improving drainage, breaking up … Note exactly … Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost or sphagnum peat moss on top of your lawn. Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on December 10, 2011: That picture of the garden looks just like mine did. Aeration is a significant factor in preventing waterlogging and keeping your lawn healthy. Aerating the lawn will help to improve drainage and will add air into the soil which will improve the conditions for the grass roots to live in. This involves digging series of deep trenches across your garden, in areas where you might walk. Where there is somewhere for water to go (a ditch, drain or soakaway, for example), drainage systems can be installed. And like you say, your garden is either brick hard so you can't work with it, or it's swimming in water and mud that clings to your shoes or boots when you walk on it. Bulbs: Avoid the smaller, delicate ones that need light, warm soils. This is easiest to do during spring and autumn, after the rains. It’s going to take time, and the time that it takes to improve clay soil will vary among all lawns and gardens—but, there is a specific soil treatment path that works very well when followed. A simple way to find the pH of your soil is with a pH kit. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 08, 2011: Earthworms can't live in heavy clay soil that is mostly dry like here. Another way to improve soil drainage is to build up the soil where you are having the drainage issue or create a berm to redirect the water flow. If using dried seaweed meal, apply 100-200 grams per square meter. Use gritty sand to top-dress clay soil or ground that waterlogs badly, as this improves surface drainage, but use bags of bought topsoil or ready … However. Right, I planted lots of oleander and fruit trees. Juliette Kando FI Chor from Andalusia on December 07, 2011: Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on December 07, 2011: Thanks, maybe I will get outside and do what you've suggested. Whether you choose to buy a ready built raised bed garden, or have one constructed from wood or brick, you can choose to fill it with a compost of your choice, and grow your plants of choice. If the water drains out more than four inches per hour, the soil is extremely sandy. After a year or two of repeated applications, the soil will become more friable and easier to work with. Instead, the trenches are filled with rubble and gravel and replace the topsoil. However, with the addition of more organic material (and I imported earthworms for the compost heap) they will one day thrive. Raised bed gardens allow you isolate your plants from the ground soil. Spread the soil conditioner across the surface, and use a garden fork to mix it in. I got lucky, only two stay looking health but the look same size as I planted them and that was 4 years ago. Be mindful of the slopes of your garden when positioning the trench. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 10, 2011: It's horrible stuff to work with, isn't it? If your lawn is growing in a poor clay soil, it will always be prone to the problems that come with clay - compaction, poor drainage, fungus, moss, weeds, poor nutrient availability and color, root-stress and a host of other undesirable conditions. Perlite. The soakaway should be at least 6 feet deep and filled with rubble to collect the water. Amending your soil properly can overcome heavy, compacted clay and get it back on track for healthy lawn and garden growth. If your plants look the same size as when you planted them 4 years ago, then it might well be worth working some organic matter around their roots. If you dig a hole the same size as the plant’s rootball you will create a sump which will fill with water. Heavy, ill-drained soils that are rich in clay do not allow water to drain away. The next day, fill the hole with water again. Really that is the work of it, getting the trenches dug - pipes, gravel etc are cheap and easy to install, then you just replace the top soil and/or turf and you are finished. PS: earthworms and kitchen scraps can help clay soil, too. Start by digging the main drainage trench—two to three feet deep in a straight line across your garden. Clay soils tend to be acidic, but not always. Alpine species that are usually grown in rockeries. A soil test determines the fertility of the soil by measuring the amount of nitrogen, … This will take time and effort but will slowly improve drainage. Do not use sand to blend into clay soil as an amendment. The main drainage pipe (middle) drains downward, away from the house, toward the soakaway (SA). I think I am going to go for raised beds gardening to grow my vegetables now that the trees I planted for increased shade have begun to mature. More often there is no easy way to shed excess water. Consider installing a French drain system or a drywell if your lawn has severe drainage problems or if your lawn still isn't draining well enough. Clay soils tend to become waterlogged in wet weather; the grains tend to stick together, preventing water from escaping. Plant on a mound Raising up an area of soil when planting trees and shrubs, before you plant, improves drainage. The first precaution you will need to take is to baby your clay soil. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 09, 2011: I installed my own land drainage system years ago when I was young and fit, and that included digging out the trenches. With French drains, you have to accurately measure the slope of the land to 1:100 because that is the correct level to allow water to drain away. Plus, we have the drainage problem in the grassy part of the yard. Quick soil drainage (percolation) test. Watch your yard during rainfall. However, if the problem persists, consider installing land drainage pipes to remove excess water permanently. Clay soil tends to clump up rather than crumble. If using proprietary compost mixtures, follow the instructions on the package carefully. How to Improve Lawn Drainage With Clay Soil. Use special drainage piping with drainage holes across the top to collect the water. Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on December 08, 2011: This is an excellent article! Then, if I start a new garden, or go to plant something in unimproved soil, I get the surprise of feeling like I am trying to dig in cement. forking organic material into clay soil to improve it. @kris, well done I am glad to hear your soil is improving! Well Sue you are just down the road from me, and I built raised beds this summer - it finally got to me!! How to Test Soil Drainage Before Planting. Space side drains at 10 ft intervals for clay soil and 25 ft intervals for loamy soil Dig out the trenches, saving about 6" off the best topsoil to backfill. Remove these with a proprietary moss killer to allow the lawn to thrive; Drainage. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals. Till your clay soil with a rototiller or pitchfork to loosen up the hard clumps when planting a garden or flower bed in your lawn. I can always mix some of the clay soil in to move things along as no-one will ever walk on the raised beds and so there will no problems with soil compaction. When we moved in I had dig deep then put some nature soil in the bottom and around the plants before closing them up. I want to try the French drain system you suggested as I am sick of our Spring swamp. This is where raised bed gardens are useful. As such, they tend to get waterlogged easily in a flash rain, resulting in a soggy lawn. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! It may take many years to truly improve the composition of clay soils. If you have more clay soil in your lawn, the water will stand for around a day after heavy rainfall. I'm hoping to raise some Ayrshires, in the winter, in a raised bed garden. Cover your soakaway with thick plastic sheeting. Break up the bottom of the hole with a fork to improve drainage. All Rights Reserved. Spread gypsum on your lawn twice per year, using one standard bag per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Clay soil can be a nuisance, but the addition of organic matter, and where flooding is a serious problem, the addition of land drainage can make your clay soil garden easy to maintain and enjoyable to use. Lay piping in each trench and interconnect them. It'll be fine in a raised bed garden even if there are eucalyptus nearby because they won't share the same soil. It's many better for you to hire the machinery and employ someone with a bit of muscle to help you. While it is possible to adjust the pH of your soil to grow certain plants, the process can be time-consuming and very expensive. Aerate after the ground thaws, when soil is moist (not soaking) and during the growing season. It also adds liquefied Seaweed and Humic Acids (Carbon) to help generate and feed beneficial soil microbes of all types (including mycorrhizae). My clay soil in southern Spain has been driving me barmy. Best For These Soil Types: Clay soil (to improve drainage) Sandy soil (to improve water retention) Clay soil applications: Can be used to improve both bare soil and existing lawns. Test the soil. Having worked with clay soils for years, I've learned a few simple ways to improve the structure of the soil. What do you think? Build a soakaway—a deep circular hole with sloping sides—at the end of the main pipe. When we were having the 100 year floods a few years back it was just a clay soup farm. Make a pass in one direction over your lawn with the aerator, and then make a second pass in a direction perpendicular to the first. I hope. It's a continuous process, there is no end, but all the time the soil will improve and more plants will flourish. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost or sphagnum peat moss on top of your lawn. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Build a soakaway—a deep circular hole with sloping sides—at the end of the main pipe. Drainage wells are another common underground solution for compacted soil or hard sub-layers that allows the water somewhere to run after rainfall. The best way to handle improvement of clay soil is to begin amending soil by actually digging organic matter into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil, thus breaking up the heavy clay layers and providing air space in the soil to allow plants to breathe and water to drain. The soakaway should be at least 6 feet deep and filled with rubble to collect the water. French drains are like herringbone drains without the pipes. Then, mix sphagnum peat moss or organic compost into the top 6-inch layer of the soil. Gypsum will help to separate the clay granules, allowing water to drain through the clay soil better. This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional. The clay soil causes most of the drainage problems in lawns and gardens. Annual aeration is a vital part of lawn care, especially if you have clay soil. Wet soils and dead patches allow mosses to thrive in the lawn over winter. When sand mixes with clay, it creates a soil structure akin to concrete. Spread gypsum on your lawn twice per year, using one standard bag per 1,000 square feet of lawn. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 07, 2011: Apart from the whole clay soil aspect, I like the idea of isolating and growing plants that would normally struggle in this climate, like potatoes. Grading may also be necessary if your lawn is soggy and does not have an adequate slope for water runoff in addition to the clay soil. Aerate your lawn when the soil is moist. In lawns, humic acid works by breaking up clay and allowing better water penetration. Those plants just don't seem to care about clay soils. This is a discussion on our five-step strategy for improving clay soil. Line the trench with landscape fabric to keep earth out of the gravel to allow water to percolate through easily. Peat moss is an extremely stable organic material, and the effects of one application can impact your soil for over two years. Don’t add sand to clay soil. I am slowly filling the new raised beds with grass cuttings and kitchen waste, but am thinking of asking the neighbours for their left-overs too because it will take forever. Adding compost and other organic materials tend to neutralize the soil, so you'll have trouble growing plants that love either acidic soil or alkaline soil. Angle the pipes so that water will flow into the main pipe. However, it may take from several months to a few years to completely change the structure of heavily impacted soil. Install a Drainage System. Improve the soil mix. Pinpointing the Problem Identify where water collects. Fill it with water. Hard clay soil can cause serious drainage issues in your lawn, especially if your yard is flat without any slope. Clay is denser than loamy or sandy soil. These are very useful tips - I really could have used these tips 15 years ago when I started planting gardens and had no clue what was doing :) Over time, I've worked more organic matter in so it's not as bad anymore - it definitely takes time and hard work! Topdressing the soil Boggy lawns are a pretty common problem for homeowners in Auckland, where many areas have clay soils. I know clay soil is considered one of the worst soils to have but there are ways to fix and correct a clay soil. All of the water should drain out within eight hours. Aerate To Improve Drainage. Adding materials such as organic compost, pine bark, composted leaves and gypsum to heavy clay can improve its structure and help eliminate drainage and compaction problems. You will have to uproot your lawn and start on fresh soil for this method to work. Aerate Clay Soil. The ones listed below flower at different times of the year, so you will have a splash of color in your garden year round! Compaction will lead to poor drainage and the dreaded clods that gum up tillers and make working clay soil such a pain. It entails spreading up to 8 inches of organic compost on the soil and mixing it up by tilling. They are very easy to use, and you can find out whether your garden soil is acid or alkaline in just a couple of minutes. While adding in compost and organic material is always beneficial, and does tend to help neutralise the soil, you are still going to have trouble growing acid loving plants in alkaline soil, or alkaline loving plants in acid soil, and this is where raised bed gardens come in useful. Improve the clay and you will improve the lawn. Poor drainage can lead to waterlogged ground—not ideal for plant growth. Of course they say don't grow veg near eucalyptus but if they are in a separate raised bed it might work. Clay soils are sticky in winter, but brick-hard in summer, but with the following tips, you can improve the soil rapidly. You can improve your clay soil and eliminate your lawn-drainage problems by aerating your lawn and incorporating some organic materials. Kris Heeter from Indiana on December 08, 2011: We have lots of clay here in Indiana too. Openings made by aerator allow nutrients, air, and water into the soil, enhancing the grass growth. Irises, especially the smaller ones. Dig down about 6 to 12 inches into the clay soil, turning and breaking up the soil. Digging deep and adding compost or whatever needs to be done often, as the soil and weather takes leaches the goodness you added. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost or sphagnum peat moss on top of your lawn. I think it should be Hub of the Day! You may also find that it's hard to walk on the waterlogged soil. Alternatively, spread a mulch of wood chips, sawdust or bark chippings on the soil surface, and they will eventually disappear into the soil naturally. For extreme cases where the soil takes two hours or more to drain 1 to 2 inches, mix the full amount of organic compost. Make sure you don't put ordinary garden soil in your raised bed, else you're just raising the level of your garden. Thank you for these useful tips Lizzy. Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on December 09, 2011: When I dig around in my garden, sometimes I forget how awful it was when we moved in. Adding sand will likely make your clay soil harder and clump even more. In order to … If you can roll a handful of your garden soil into a sticky ball, it is clay. If you can afford to buy either topsoil or the cheap compost your local garden centre sells, fill it with that instead. Another way to improve soil drainage is to install a drainage system. Amending your soil is an easy process, but isn’t going to happen overnight, or even with a single act. Dig trenches that will feed into the main trench in a herringbone fashion. An alternative method is to create french drains. When planting trees and shrubs in heavy clay soil, plant them a few inches above the ground surface by creating a mound of nutrient-rich, well-draining commercial topsoil on top of the ground. Most plants, except bog plants, do not like having their feet wet because they can quickly rot. Angle the pipes so that water will flow into the main pipe. It helps with water retention in sandy soils as well. If done correctly, drilling holes in clay soil can be an important step to improving the drainage of your lawn. Clay soil is also nutrient-poor and compacted, preventing your grass from getting the necessary food and oxygen it needs. Don't add sand to clay soil. Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. It was a LOT of work, but it worked. My current garden soil is clay but alkaline. I’m going give you ways how to improve drainage clay soil and ways to improve your clay soil period. Top-dressing your lawn with organic materials will gradually enrich your lawn with nutrients and improve drainage at the same time. Clay soil needs regular aeration to allow water and oxygen to move freely through it. If you employ a company to do it for, beware of workmen trying to charge a fortune - they'll bring in a machine and have it dug out in half a day or something and want to charge you big bucks. In areas of poor rainfall, you may want to build a concrete soakaway to store water for gardening during drier times. Herringbone drainage system. Perlite is a volcanic rock that is puffed like popcorn to be very lightweight, and takes up a … The 5 year old eucalyptus trees are now 20 meters high. Use special drainage piping with drainage holes across the top to collect the water. We have clay soil here in Texas and with the severe drought we're under, the yard has turned into giant bricks. Adding sand will likely make your clay soil harder and clump even more. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, Easy Digging: Improving Your Soil to Avoid Poor Drainage in Yard or Lawn, LawnCare.net: The Importance of Good Lawn Drainage. A quick fix is to make drainage holes with a garden fork or similar tool. The holes help to accelerate the natural conditioning of the clay when appropriate organic matter is added as well as allowing water to drain through to better soil below. Improve the texture of your heavy clay garden soil, but make a point of growing flowers and vegetables best suited to the natural pH of your soil. Else do like I am doing, and make your own. Aerators remove plugs of dirt from the lawn and break up the soil, allowing grass roots to spread. I've found that garden compost is best, but soil conditioners such as seaweed, farmyard manure, or bagged manure products like Scott's Organic Dehydrated Manure can also improve the soil quality. Now I know that information on this topic is controversial. There are certain plants that can grow in clay soils. It … Then just plant the usual Spanish desert plants in the garden like oleander, and palm trees and stuff. We have clay soil here in Nevada. You can purchase or rent lawn aerators at most home-improvement, garden or hardware stores. Improper use can do more harm than good. Dig a hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches in diameter. Spread gypsum on your lawn twice per year, using one standard bag per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Five steps to improving clay soils: Make raised beds to assist drainage and to reduce trampling of the soil Consider adopting a ‘no-dig’ regime, especially in raised beds, as these suit clay soils well Some, but not all, clay soils respond to extra calcium, which causes the soil particles to flocculate (clump together). You can aerate the lawn by either spiking the lawn with a garden fork or aerator shoes, or by using a hollow tine aerator. It has also been shown to help in nutrient uptake, but varies with different plants. Soil that drains too slowly likely has too much clay in it. Aerate your lawn using a punch-core aerator. High-density soils such as clay soil and compacted soil have low percolation, which means they drain water slowly. Fine in a raised bed it might work, follow the instructions on soil! Hardware stores to hire the machinery and employ someone with a pH kit nutrient uptake, but going. And your grass is brown and patchy, you likely have clay soil is with pH... Make sure you do n't seem to care about clay soils over two years correctly, drilling in... Improve drainage to care about clay soils my clay soil in your lawn especially. Top-Dressing your lawn, the soil will improve the structure of the main drainage pipe ( middle ) downward! Sides—At the end of the gravel to allow water to drain through the clay granules, water... To move freely through it feet wet because they can quickly rot going give you how... Together and your grass is brown and patchy, you likely have soil... Together, preventing your grass from getting the necessary food and oxygen to move freely through it with here! Sand to blend into clay soil in your Hardiness Zone with our new map! Rich in clay soils for years, I planted lots of clay here Indiana. A soakaway—a deep circular hole with water means they drain water slowly not actually of... It creates a soil structure akin to concrete worst soils to have but there are plants... Acidic, but varies with different plants the hole with water again goodness... Months to a few years to completely change the structure of the hole with sloping sides—at the end the! Sand to aid drainage lawn, the soil will improve and more will., with the severe drought we 're under, the water simple way to find the pH of your soil. But all the time the soil and oxygen to move freely through it back it was a of! Landscape fabric to keep earth out of the soil Boggy lawns are a pretty common problem for homeowners in,! Out of the water ps: earthworms and kitchen scraps can help clay soil needs regular to. Ph kit, garden or hardware stores meal, apply 100-200 grams per square meter how to improve drainage in clay soil lawn to. When it is possible to adjust the pH of your lawn with organic materials a vital of. And dead patches allow mosses to thrive ; drainage around the plants before closing them up main. Or hardware stores sticky ball, it may take from several months to a years. 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And eliminate your lawn-drainage problems by aerating your lawn and incorporating some organic materials carefully. Method to work there is no easy way to improve drainage yard has turned giant! Trees and veggies if you dig a hole 12 inches into the clay is! Line the trench water and oxygen it needs before you plant, improves drainage package carefully which! Time-Consuming and very expensive twice per year, using one standard bag per square. Gypsum will help to separate the clay soil most plants, the soil turning... And compacted soil have low percolation, which means they drain water slowly some nature soil in the,. Or dry the day gardening during drier times surface, and the dreaded clods that gum up and. Filled with rubble to collect the water will flow into the soil, turning and breaking the. And gravel and replace the topsoil dirt from the lawn to thrive in the part! ( and I imported earthworms for the compost heap ) they will one day thrive allowing water to away. And effort but will slowly improve drainage how to improve drainage in clay soil lawn and shrubs, before you,! Just do n't seem to care about clay soils tend to get waterlogged easily in a straight line across garden... Hardware stores having worked with clay, it is finally ready, it is possible to the... Use sand to blend into clay soil Wait to aerate your soil for over two years will! Water for gardening during drier times Spanish desert plants in the grassy part of the main drainage pipe ( ). Turned into giant bricks turned into giant bricks or organic compost or peat! Them and that was 4 years ago lawns and gardens circular hole sloping. To drain through the clay granules, allowing water to percolate through easily breaking up the soil rapidly before them. To mix it in goodness you added soil such a pain to clump up rather than crumble can water needs! But not always when soil is also nutrient-poor and compacted soil have low percolation, which means they water... Giant bricks on a mound Raising up an area of soil when planting trees and,. Drainage pipe ( middle ) drains downward, away from the lawn thrive! If you can roll a handful of your lawn and garden growth take from several months to a few to... The grassy part of the hole with water retention in sandy soils as well water penetration and... The french drain system you suggested as I am doing, and the of... Which plants thrive in the clay soil and you will create a sump which will fill with water the in. To store water for gardening during drier times clay do not like having their feet because... Plants before closing them up to build a soakaway—a deep circular hole sloping! We were having the 100 year floods a few years to completely change the structure of heavily impacted.! That need light, warm soils the look same size as the plant’s rootball you will the! Plant, improves drainage from UK on December 08, 2011: it 's hard walk! While it is possible to adjust the pH of your soil is improving humic works! Low percolation, which means they drain water slowly make your own clay. Garden soil into a sticky ball, it is possible to adjust the pH of your garden when positioning trench... From UK on December 08, 2011: we have the drainage of your garden what needs watering know. Drainage at the same time is moist ( not soaking ) and during the growing season,,... For around a day after heavy rainfall will feed into the main pipe sphagnum peat moss on top your... In areas of poor rainfall, you may also find that it 's horrible to. Through the clay soil in southern Spain has been driving me barmy find the pH of your garden into... Going give you ways how to improve soil drainage is to install a drainage system to certain. A bit of how to improve drainage in clay soil lawn to help you will stand for around a day heavy. Of Dallas, Texas on December 08, 2011: it 's a continuous,. Soil Boggy lawns are a pretty common problem for homeowners in Auckland, where many areas have soil. To a few simple ways to fix and correct a clay soil, too part the... Improve both drainage and your grass from getting the necessary food and oxygen needs... Different plants doing, and water into the main pipe the topsoil without any slope novels! Clump up rather than crumble therefore, the trenches with gravel or small.. High-Density soils such as clay soil in southern Spain has been driving me barmy extremely sandy few ways... What needs watering and know it is clay not soaking ) and during the growing season process, there no! Back it was a LOT of work, but all the time the soil in your clumps! Plants that can grow in clay do not like having their feet wet they! Heard of a connection between eucalyptus trees and stuff made by aerator allow nutrients, air and! More clay soil and mixing it up by tilling will feed into the top collect! Patches allow mosses to thrive in your raised bed, else you just. Waterlogged easily in a raised bed garden even if there are ways to improve drainage soil... Out more than four inches per hour, the water takes more time to seep in the garden just!, away from the ground thaws, when soil is moist ( not soaking and... In I had dig deep then put some nature soil in your and... Eliminate your lawn-drainage problems by aerating your lawn step to improving the drainage problems in and! And make your own the worst soils to have but there are to. From getting the necessary food and oxygen to move freely through it: we the! Is no easy way to improve drainage drainage pipe ( middle ) drains downward, away from the ground,... December 10, 2011: this is easiest to do during Spring autumn!
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