Lawn Soil

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Lawn Soil

A major part of success with lawns is determined by the preparation made to lawn soil. Grass roots utilize the same soil year after year. Therefore, it is difficult to change the soil structure under growing grass and it can be quite expensive. Because of this, soil preparation is a critical step to the long-term success of lawns grown from both seed and sod.

Most gardeners characterize soil types by heavy, light, clay, loamy, rich loam, sandy, poor soil and lean soil.
Scientists and horticulturists categorize soils by the degree of sand, silt and clay they embody.

Surprisingly, the one part of healthy lawn maintenance that even the experts overlook sometimes is soil knowledge. The soil that your lawn is planted in is a living, breathing entity that needs proper care and attention so that you may get the most out of each and every growing season. You’ll need to know your soils acidity, and you’ll need to know which kind of grass seed to plant and which kinds to avoid. They say that you can’t build a sturdy home on a shaky foundation and that goes for your lawn, as well. Before you start planting, watering, fertilizing and mowing, you have to know what is going on underneath the ground first. Here is a basic primer for getting to know your soil on a personal level.

Soil itself can be broken into four major categories. Between 50-60 percent of soil simply water and air, while the remaining percent is made of organic matter and minerals. On the surface, you may not think of the water and air parts as serving any real function, but if it wasn’t for that, nothing could grow because the organic matter and minerals would be too compacted. The nutrients available in your local soil are directly related to the plants that exist, and then die, there. If you have a large variety of plants, chances are you have rich soil. If not, you may need to investigate just what type of grass will grow where you are, and you may need to keep a closer eye on the type of seed you choose.

The texture of your soil is also a huge part of keeping your lawn healthy. You can use liquid lawn aeration to help promote oxygen flow in your soil. Before you do anything, you’ll need to take several soil samples from around your lawn to determine just what kind of soil you have. Although there are dozens of sub categories used to classify lawns, the main categories are as follows:

Loamy soil – This is the golden goose of soil. Loamy soil contains just the right amount of natural drainage and minerals for the ideal growing environment. Loamy soil can help everything from your lawn to flowers to your garden grow each and every season, however, most folks aren’t lucky enough to have loamy soil in their yards. They usually have one of the following types of soil instead.

Clay soil – If your soil feels a bit lumpy, chances are, you have a clay soil environment in which to deal with. Clay soil loves to clump together, which is bad news for your lawn and for anything else that wishes to grow. This is because the clay lumps significantly reduce the amount of water and air available in the soil, which also reduces the amount of available nutrients, as well. Drainage is also a huge issue when it comes to clay soils. Unless your lawn is on a steep slope, you may need to install your own drainage and you will most likely need to use fertilizer, as well since your lawn likely won’t be getting enough nutrients otherwise.

Silt soil – If you have a river nearby or if you had one nearby a few generations ago, you may find yourself with silty soil. The good news is that silty soil is often rich in nutrients and offers a good environment in which to grow grass, however, the silt is easily manipulated and can be packed together easily, choking off any water and air from the soil. You will have to be extremely careful to not press down too much on your lawn or you may end up with a dead, lifeless yard.

Sandy Soil – On the flip side, sandy soil offers excellent drainage because the particles in the soil are spaced further apart. If you take a handful of sandy soil, it will feel gritty and sandy, as opposed to the silt soil, which feels smooth, but just like with any other type of soil, there are drawbacks, as well. Because sandy soil drains so well, it can often wash away valuable nutrients your lawn needs to grow and be healthy. Sandy soil requires a particular kind of grass and heaping helpings of fertilizer to be healthy.

Finally, you will need to get the acidity of your lawn tested so that you can match the proper grass seed to your lawn. Along with identifying the right soil type, the pH of your soil goes a long way in determining just how you care for it over the long term.

Topics that will be discussed in this section will include: how to improve soil texture, how to take a soil test, and proper preparation to the planting site.

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  1. clarence perry,jr

    Found your articles much more in detail as to what i was looking for . Answered a lot of questions covering lawns .Thanks

  2. Thanks Clarence.

  3. i have a ‘new yard” , bought the new home a year ago in The “Woodlands’ just north of houston. st augustine grass, worked hard keeping it green this summer in drought, let it grow thick, but i have a few places where i can tell the roots are thin because the ground is so hard beneath (other sections i can stick a shovel fairly deep) Q – what can i do to improve these thin areas, i’m thinking maybe applying some good soil on top periodically and working it into the grass. thoughts? thanks

    • David,

      Topsoil amendments are great for improving the soil in your lawn. You will probably want to aerate your lawn before applying for two reasons. It will help loosen up the compaction in those areas and it will also give the new amendments are quicker path to the existing soil. Good luck!

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