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Preparing clay soil to sow grass seed

Discussion in 'Lawns' started by dennew55, May 25, 2021.

  1. dennew55

    dennew55 Apprentice Gardener

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    What is the best process to prepare the soil for grass seed? The soil area is clay and is compacted due to previously having pavement. Should I turn the soil over forking in compost and then add a small layer of topsoil and sow grass seed?
     
  2. dennew55

    dennew55 Apprentice Gardener

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    Just to add I've got a tonne bag of compost and topsoil that was given to me
     
  3. Macraignil

    Macraignil Gardener

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    Sounds like a reasonable approach but make sure to stay off the area when it is wet as this will lead to further compaction when you walk on it and it will be so sticky it will be more difficult to break it up anyway. When it is a bit dry just lightly forking it and turning over any weed seedlings to kill them off and removing any perennial weed roots should be the bulk of the work done before spreading and raking in your compost and grass seed.
     
  4. dennew55

    dennew55 Apprentice Gardener

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    I was thinking about turning over the soil and using the compost to help break up the clay a bit as some areas it’s very sticky.
     
  5. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    I think:

    For a new lawn (turf or seed, makes no difference) the soil needs to be well prepared.

    Yup, turn it over, and "improve" it as appropriate.

    I took up an old (hard) tennis court here. The soil under it had never had any oxygen for decades. It stank! and consequently it was a pretty tough starting point for a lawn. In fact I left it quite a while, and rotavated it at intervals, to get some air into it (and get the bugs going again) before then sowing grass seed.

    So I think: turn it over /rotavate, but then you have to compact it so it doesn't sink and created ruts once it is lawn. The traditional way for that is heel-toe in wellies trogging across it (bit hard to described, there will be a YouTube somewhere I expect).

    And it needs to be level (well "smooth surface", it might actually be at 45 degrees rather than level :heehee:). For that job I have dragged a ladder across it (rope attached to each end, and me the drag-donkey). Stick some blocks on the ladder if you need a bit more weight to "pull" the high spots. Do that cross ways, and reduce the weights until the final passes are skating over the surface.

    If you have some topsoil, and your clay is truly awful, then you might do the digging / prep work, level as best you can, and then finally spread topsoil to provide a better seed bed on top.
     
  6. Spruce

    Spruce Glad to be back .....

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    it need (double digging)

     
  7. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    Here's a video (someone whose work I have seen). Its not quite right for you, the video is reseeding an existing lawn.

    Interestingly he does the "drag a ladder" after sowing the seed ... hmmm ... mind you, the lawn was flat to start with. He uses a pallet, I hadn't thought of that easy to get hold of if you don't have a ladder, but that bit at least would show you the idea. Its 10 minutes into the video

     
  8. dennew55

    dennew55 Apprentice Gardener

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    Thanks for the replies! Does this sound ok? I will turn the soil over and rake in some compost to improve the clay areas. Then I will walk all over it/rake level after that add a layer of top spoil “final layer” before sowing grass seed and adding some more topsoil to cover seeds ?
     
  9. dennew55

    dennew55 Apprentice Gardener

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  10. Liz the pot

    Liz the pot Super Gardener

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    Clay is a sod, it holds the dampness but when it dries out it’s a swine too.
    Ideally you would remove a depth of the clay and insure you have at least 150mm of topsoil.
    You could add gravel and sand to aid drainage but as you add all these materials it will raise the height of the ground so that needs to be taken into account.
     
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