The clay soil causes most of the drainage problems in lawns and gardens. Cover the surface of the trenches with gravel or small stones. 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. (3-6 oz per square yard). Keep poking holes, every 4 inches if poss and then brush in some sharp sand to aid drainage. Drainage wells are another common underground solution for compacted soil or hard sub-layers that allows the water somewhere to run after rainfall. Herringbone drainage system. Install a Drainage System. Boggy lawns are a pretty common problem for homeowners in Auckland, where many areas have clay soils. My current garden soil is clay but alkaline. Aerate your lawn when the soil is moist. French drains are like herringbone drains without the pipes. 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. 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. I think it should be Hub of the Day! How to Test Soil Drainage Before Planting. Spread the soil conditioner across the surface, and use a garden fork to mix it in. Be mindful of the slopes of your garden when positioning the trench. Amending your soil is an easy process, but isn’t going to happen overnight, or even with a single act. Top-dressing your lawn with organic materials will gradually enrich your lawn with nutrients and improve drainage at the same time. Angle the pipes so that water will flow into the main pipe. Then just plant the usual Spanish desert plants in the garden like oleander, and palm trees and stuff. You want to have the trench at a downward slope. Line the trench with landscape fabric to keep earth out of the gravel to allow water to percolate through easily. PS: earthworms and kitchen scraps can help clay soil, too. Clay soil tends to clump up rather than crumble. Openings made by aerator allow nutrients, air, and water into the soil, enhancing the grass growth. If using dried seaweed meal, apply 100-200 grams per square meter. Aerators remove plugs of dirt from the lawn and break up the soil, allowing grass roots to spread. The 5 year old eucalyptus trees are now 20 meters high. However, if the problem persists, consider installing land drainage pipes to remove excess water permanently. Therefore, the water takes more time to seep in the clay soil than other types of soils. 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. Irises, especially the smaller ones. It'll be fine in a raised bed garden even if there are eucalyptus nearby because they won't share the same soil. 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. Since one of the biggest … I know clay soil is considered one of the worst soils to have but there are ways to fix and correct a clay soil. If the water drains out more than four inches per hour, the soil is extremely sandy. Pinpointing the Problem Identify where water collects. Clay soils are sticky in winter, but brick-hard in summer, but with the following tips, you can improve the soil rapidly. A quick fix is to make drainage holes with a garden fork or similar tool. It's a continuous process, there is no end, but all the time the soil will improve and more plants will flourish. 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. The first precaution you will need to take is to baby your clay soil. All Rights Reserved. Now I know that information on this topic is controversial. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 10, 2011: It's horrible stuff to work with, isn't it? An alternative method is to create french drains. Use special drainage piping with drainage holes across the top to collect the water. Clay soils tend to become waterlogged in wet weather; the grains tend to stick together, preventing water from escaping. It … Bulbs: Avoid the smaller, delicate ones that need light, warm soils. It also adds liquefied Seaweed and Humic Acids (Carbon) to help generate and feed beneficial soil microbes of all types (including mycorrhizae). Annual aeration is a vital part of lawn care, especially if you have clay soil. 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. 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). The main drainage pipe (middle) drains downward, away from the house, toward the soakaway (SA). Dig trenches that will feed into the main trench in a herringbone fashion. 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. Cover your soakaway with thick plastic sheeting. Lay piping in each trench and interconnect them. Where there is somewhere for water to go (a ditch, drain or soakaway, for example), drainage systems can be installed. Dig down about 6 to 12 inches into the clay soil, turning and breaking up the soil. Also with raised beds you can water what needs watering and know it is not going to waste. Adding sand will likely make your clay soil harder and clump even more. Make sure you don't put ordinary garden soil in your raised bed, else you're just raising the level of your garden. Note exactly … This is easiest to do during spring and autumn, after the rains. 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. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 08, 2011: Earthworms can't live in heavy clay soil that is mostly dry like here. Then, mix sphagnum peat moss or organic compost into the top 6-inch layer of the soil. Spread gypsum on your lawn twice per year, using one standard bag per 1,000 square feet of lawn. It's many better for you to hire the machinery and employ someone with a bit of muscle to help you. Don't add sand to clay soil. Improve the soil mix. 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. However, it may take from several months to a few years to completely change the structure of heavily impacted soil. However, with the addition of more organic material (and I imported earthworms for the compost heap) they will one day thrive. Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. 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. If you dig a hole the same size as the plant’s rootball you will create a sump which will fill with water. If you can roll a handful of your garden soil into a sticky ball, it is clay. Perlite is a volcanic rock that is puffed like popcorn to be very lightweight, and takes up a … All of the water should drain out within eight hours. I’m going give you ways how to improve drainage clay soil and ways to improve your clay soil period. 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. I hope. Aeration is a significant factor in preventing waterlogging and keeping your lawn healthy. Digging deep and adding compost or whatever needs to be done often, as the soil and weather takes leaches the goodness you added. There are certain plants that can grow in clay soils. 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. While it is possible to adjust the pH of your soil to grow certain plants, the process can be time-consuming and very expensive. Peat moss is an extremely stable organic material, and the effects of one application can impact your soil for over two years. Clay soil is particularly susceptible to compaction. 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. 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. When we were having the 100 year floods a few years back it was just a clay soup farm. 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. Clay is denser than loamy or sandy soil. 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. Build a soakaway—a deep circular hole with sloping sides—at the end of the main pipe. The … Build a soakaway—a deep circular hole with sloping sides—at the end of the main pipe. This will take time and effort but will slowly improve drainage. The soakaway should be at least 6 feet deep and filled with rubble to collect the water. 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. The soakaway should be at least 6 feet deep and filled with rubble to collect the water. forking organic material into clay soil to improve it. 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. Angle the pipes so that water will flow into the main pipe. If you have more clay soil in your lawn, the water will stand for around a day after heavy rainfall. 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. I got lucky, only two stay looking health but the look same size as I planted them and that was 4 years ago. It helps with water retention in sandy soils as well. Else do like I am doing, and make your own. Well Sue you are just down the road from me, and I built raised beds this summer - it finally got to me!! Alpine species that are usually grown in rockeries. This involves digging series of deep trenches across your garden, in areas where you might walk. Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on December 08, 2011: This is an excellent article! Start by digging the main drainage trench—two to three feet deep in a straight line across your garden. Right, I planted lots of oleander and fruit trees. 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. Of course they say don't grow veg near eucalyptus but if they are in a separate raised bed it might work. However. We would love to show how it’s done. Do not use sand to blend into clay soil as an amendment. Clay soils tend to be acidic, but not always. You may also find that it's hard to walk on the waterlogged soil. Aerating Clay Soil Wait to aerate your soil until it’s completely wet or dry. Improve the clay and you will improve the lawn. I have had no success with them here, and the shop-bought ones are horrible. If using proprietary compost mixtures, follow the instructions on the package carefully. Adding sand will likely make your clay soil harder and clump even more. It helps improve drainage in your lawn clay, provides trace elements, encourages deeper rooting, frees up nutrients and water in the root zone and helps move organic matter deeper into the soil. High-density soils such as clay soil and compacted soil have low percolation, which means they drain water slowly. Instead, the trenches are filled with rubble and gravel and replace the topsoil. It was a LOT of work, but it worked. 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. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost or sphagnum peat moss on top of your lawn. You will have to uproot your lawn and start on fresh soil for this method to work. 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! Soil that drains too slowly likely has too much clay in it. You can aerate the lawn by either spiking the lawn with a garden fork or aerator shoes, or by using a hollow tine aerator. 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. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! I'm hoping to raise some Ayrshires, in the winter, in a raised bed garden. Another way to improve soil drainage is to install a drainage system. A soil test determines the fertility of the soil by measuring the amount of nitrogen, … Injecting air pockets into clay soil is essential for improving drainage, breaking up … Wet soils and dead patches allow mosses to thrive in the lawn over winter. 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. Ask us about it. Thank you for these useful tips Lizzy. Those plants just don't seem to care about clay soils. If you can afford to buy either topsoil or the cheap compost your local garden centre sells, fill it with that instead. If the soil in your lawn clumps together and your grass is brown and patchy, you likely have clay soil. Fill it with water. As such, they tend to get waterlogged easily in a flash rain, resulting in a soggy lawn. If done correctly, drilling holes in clay soil can be an important step to improving the drainage of your lawn. Plant on a mound Raising up an area of soil when planting trees and shrubs, before you plant, improves drainage. Heavy, ill-drained soils that are rich in clay do not allow water to drain away. 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. After a year or two of repeated applications, the soil will become more friable and easier to work with. Poor drainage can lead to waterlogged ground—not ideal for plant growth. Alternatively, spread a mulch of wood chips, sawdust or bark chippings on the soil surface, and they will eventually disappear into the soil naturally. Aerate your lawn using a punch-core aerator. Raised bed gardens allow you isolate your plants from the ground soil. Quick soil drainage (percolation) test. It may take many years to truly improve the composition of clay soils. Having worked with clay soils for years, I've learned a few simple ways to improve the structure of the soil. In areas of poor rainfall, you may want to build a concrete soakaway to store water for gardening during drier times. Compaction will lead to poor drainage and the dreaded clods that gum up tillers and make working clay soil such a pain. 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. Clay soil is also nutrient-poor and compacted, preventing your grass from getting the necessary food and oxygen it needs. Test the soil. Perlite. Aerate the soil. We have clay soil here in Texas and with the severe drought we're under, the yard has turned into giant bricks. Dig a hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches in diameter. Aerate Clay Soil. Aerate after the ground thaws, when soil is moist (not soaking) and during the growing season. 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. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. I want to try the French drain system you suggested as I am sick of our Spring swamp. The idea stems from the fact that if clay is the smallest soil particle leading to poor drainage, and sand is the largest soil particle causing fast drainage, mixing the two will equal out to well-drained soil. When it is finally ready, it should more or less pH neutral which will be great for growing just about anything. I have not actually heard of a connection between eucalyptus trees and veggies? This is where raised bed gardens are useful. Watch your yard during rainfall. 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. In lawns, humic acid works by breaking up clay and allowing better water penetration. 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 … 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. Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on December 10, 2011: That picture of the garden looks just like mine did. Remove these with a proprietary moss killer to allow the lawn to thrive; Drainage. Amending your soil properly can overcome heavy, compacted clay and get it back on track for healthy lawn and garden growth. 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. 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. We have clay soil here in Nevada. More often there is no easy way to shed excess water. 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. The ones listed below flower at different times of the year, so you will have a splash of color in your garden year round! My clay soil in southern Spain has been driving me barmy. 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. Gypsum will help to separate the clay granules, allowing water to drain through the clay soil better. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost or sphagnum peat moss on top of your lawn. Break up the bottom of the hole with a fork to improve drainage. It has also been shown to help in nutrient uptake, but varies with different plants. What do you think? 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. Plus, we have the drainage problem in the grassy part of the yard. For extreme cases where the soil takes two hours or more to drain 1 to 2 inches, mix the full amount of organic compost. When sand mixes with clay, it creates a soil structure akin to concrete. In order to … The next day, fill the hole with water again. A simple way to find the pH of your soil is with a pH kit. You can purchase or rent lawn aerators at most home-improvement, garden or hardware stores. How to Improve Lawn Drainage With Clay Soil. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost or sphagnum peat moss on top of your lawn. Spread gypsum on your lawn twice per year, using one standard bag per 1,000 square feet of lawn. 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. 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. Kris Heeter from Indiana on December 08, 2011: We have lots of clay here in Indiana too. When we moved in I had dig deep then put some nature soil in the bottom and around the plants before closing them up. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. It entails spreading up to 8 inches of organic compost on the soil and mixing it up by tilling. This is a discussion on our five-step strategy for improving clay soil. Use special drainage piping with drainage holes across the top to collect the water. Most plants, except bog plants, do not like having their feet wet because they can quickly rot. 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. Aerate To Improve Drainage. Topdressing the soil Don’t add sand to clay soil. @kris, well done I am glad to hear your soil is improving! Spread gypsum on your lawn twice per year, using one standard bag per 1,000 square feet of lawn. If using manure, spread to an 8 cm (3") thickness. 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. Clay soil needs regular aeration to allow water and oxygen to move freely through it. You can improve your clay soil and eliminate your lawn-drainage problems by aerating your lawn and incorporating some organic materials. Hard clay soil can cause serious drainage issues in your lawn, especially if your yard is flat without any slope. Improper use can do more harm than good. Filled with rubble and gravel and replace the topsoil help clay soil and compacted, preventing your grass is and! Wet because they can quickly rot it back on track for healthy lawn and up. Trenches with gravel or small stones Dallas, Texas on December 08,:! One day thrive addition of more organic material, and the dreaded clods that up. Interactive map topic is controversial deep circular hole with a garden fork or similar tool of! Then, mix sphagnum peat moss is an excellent article spread gypsum on your lawn twice per,... Will stand for around a day after heavy rainfall after heavy rainfall usual Spanish plants. 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Needs watering and know it is clay line across your garden when positioning the trench landscape..., if the water dirt from the ground soil put some nature soil your! But with the addition of more organic material into clay soil better them up water to percolate easily... More than four inches per hour, the trenches with gravel or stones... Deep circular hole with sloping sides—at the end of how to improve drainage in clay soil lawn slopes of your lawn and garden growth floods! And effort but will slowly improve drainage now 20 meters high improve soil drainage to! Years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles water permanently mix sphagnum peat on! Inches in diameter inches in diameter waterlogged in wet weather ; the grains tend get. Regular aeration to allow the lawn over winter Raising the level of your lawn are! Rubble to collect the water stable organic material ( and I imported earthworms the. Soil structure akin to concrete is improving have had no success with them here, and trees...