I need help growing grass in red clay

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by ckball, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. ckball

    ckball New Member

    As many of you know I have had a heck of time with the drainage issue in my yard and today it is being fixed FIANLLY!!!

    Now I am left with ALOT of red clay and no grass. Does anyone have any recommendations as to what type of seed to buy and what other product to mix in with it.

    It gets all day sun too. I don't know if I should put straw down or what. I have never been a yard person so am clueless as to what to do- Thanks for any advise-Carla
  2. laceymae

    laceymae New Member

    Put a call in or email John Marrow...the garden guy on WSAZ. He usually has really good info.

  3. LenoreR

    LenoreR New Member

    First, I have no advice for you on grass-- my backyard is mostly dead! I realized from your post that I need to have all my drains cleaned out--thanks for that tip!

    Secondly, there's a really great, friendly, helpful garden thread here in Chitchat. I think it's called Garden Com or something like that and it's on Volume 4. Maybe if you post your question there you'll get a bunch more help.

    Good luck with your grass!

  4. BlueSky555

    BlueSky555 New Member

    Hi Carla,

    Sorry; don't know much about grass but if you wan't some tomato plants, dig, or get someone to dig, some holes, not real deep, and mix some potting soil in with the red dirt down in the hole, get water hose and add a little water, then plant each tomato plant and add miracle grow for tomatoes or any kind. I wish I could still do this; not sure if my body will let me anymore.

    I do know this: I had red clay where I did live and my son used his tractor with some kind of thingy behind, and "raked" the yard, then we threw out rye for winter. Now, I think you would need some kind of "sunny mix" from lowes, maybe? Anyway, mine eventually filled in after a couple of summers. I don't remember throwing anything over it.

    Hope this helps a little. good luck,

  5. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    Just asked Dan, who got his degree from Cornell Ag School. Do you have an Agway or garden center near you? He says you need a grass that will grow on the iron rich clay. We used a blue grass on ours.

    Also, look at your neighboring "lawns" or what is growing wild (native)or as Lincamp says Coop extensions are great.
    I do think that the way we did it by treading in the seed and covering with light sand may work.

    Love Annie
  6. joyfully

    joyfully New Member

    Call the Cooperative Extension Service for YOUR county.

    Red clay, don't you love it???

    In Raleigh, NC the red clay was VERY acidic. We had to add ground limestone to get the pH back into the normal range.

    Maybe the extension service could at least tell you whether the clay in your area tends to be acidic , neutral, or basic. The problem with getting a pH run is the timing. You can try one of those pH kits that you can get at garden centers, but they aren't as reliable as sending the sample off to a soil testing center. The trouble with sending the sample off is length of time in getting back the results.

    You cannot put out fertilizer and lime simultaneously unless it is going to be tilled into the soil. Otherwise, the lime reacts with the fertilizer and you just wasted your hard earned $. Also, don't let anyone talk you into adding sand to "loosen up the soil". That is the worst thing you can do. Think of a glass jar full of marbles. Then think what would happen if you added little BB pellets into the jar. They would fill in the spaces between the marbles, right? Well, the marbles are equivalent to sand ----and the BB pellets are equivalent to the fine size of clay particles.

    Adding sand only makes the soil less able to breathe.

    If you do add something to the soil, it needs organic matter (compost). This would need to be rototilled into the soil.

    I'd probably get a bag of fescue seed (check with your extension service), scatter it over the entire area and spread a light layer of straw ontop. Keep the soil and seeds moist to expedite germination. I'm getting the impression that you don't want to spend a huge amount of money. right now, I'm getting the impression that you just want to get rid of the mud. you can always put another round of grass seed over it in the fall. Cooler weather and fall rains will germinate an additional fall planting.

    If you do put fertilizer out, ask the extension service if you do it at the time of putting out the seed. This is how it would be done in NC. Be sure to get fertilizer for new lawns so you don't burn the sprouting seeds.

    You can try the pH kit that you get at your local hardware store or nursery, but I have just not found them to be as reliable as a soil testing lab. It would give you a 'ballpark" reading. At least rake the limestone into the soil if you decide to amend the soil prior to putting out the seed.

    If you decide to do the soil test and the results show that you need to add a huge amount of lime, I'd only add a little more than half the recommended amount unless you are planning to rototill the limestone into the top 5 or 6 inches of the soil. If you add a small amount of limestone, you can rake it into the soil. You can do top dressing of lime in the following years during the fall if you only add part of the limestone.

    If you purchse a do it yourself soil testing kit, I'd ask the Master Gardener at the extension service what kit they found to be most reliable.

    I hope I'm explaning this correctly as I'm a bit whoozey right now. I had to go to urgent care last evening after I fell off of my scooter and onto the street (AGAIN!). I've got stitches and a whopping black eye.

    The information I've supplied about sand in clay, lime, etc. is based upon the recommendations you would receive if you were calling the extension service in the central North Carolina area. I used to be a Master Gardener for the Cooperative Extension Service and volunteered my services a couple decades ago in NC.

    Right now, I'd just get something out there to get rid of the mud. If the dogs tend to take the same pathway through this mud to get up on the hill to go potty---I'd put the straw thicker in that area.

    You want clean straw ---not some trashy bales of stuff that could be full of weed seeds. Don't compound your problem.

    [This Message was Edited on 04/03/2008]
  7. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I don't know how hard it might be to establish it, but I can certainly verify that once it IS established, it works well in red clay (like here in Georgia - very hard stuff!). Just know that it will be nearly impossible to get rid of if you ever want to... as I posted on your other thread about your landscaping. I really did have it pierce right thru several layers of landscaping/weed control fabric. At this point I consider it a weed LOL, but, it works well!

  8. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    Put some soil and water in a jar or other container. Add some baking soda. If this mixture fizzes up like a volcano the soil is very acidic. If it fizzes up slightly then the soil is only slightly acidic.
  9. ckball

    ckball New Member

    I really appreicate all the advice

    joyfull- are you ok? You are going to have to stop speeding on your scooter. Can't have you killing yourself on it. Thank you for your post considering the circumstances.

    I am just really overwhelmed and confused with the whole situation. The ditch guy came by and is going to quote me on the rocks, then I will get a professional landscaper-grass guy to quote me too on the grass then go from there.

    I have about done myself in with this yard, then researching all the info, types of grass, fert, lime, ph, acidity,ect I know this is one job I will hire done either way. It hurts to do that, because I would rather spend the money on a vacation, but I now I will never make it to Hawaii, so I might as well put it in the yard. I am just thankful that I have it, but at this rate won't be there long.

    Thank all of you for your help and Joy watch the speed limit-Carla
  10. therealmadscientist

    therealmadscientist New Member

    The thing about the sand and marbles, and the bicarbonate test for acidity were totally new to me.

    My "style" would be to try pouring a few gallons of potassium hydroxide on the soil. Probably cheap at a hardware store.
    Would probably bubble and fizz (It's what is used to clean clogged drains) but might "soften soil".

    Asolutely keep dogs away from test area until reactions over and soil neutralized. A possibility. Good luck,mr Bill

    Oh, seems that there is a way to make your own alkaline water by soaking wood ashes in water, but probably way too much trouble.
  11. msbsgblue

    msbsgblue Member

    Try zozea grass. Not sure that is spelled correctly. You plant it by putting plugs in the ground and it will then fill out. It is extremely hardy and they make different types of it for various areas.
  12. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    not to ADD sand but to use a very light coating to sow the grass seed with(stop it from blowing away atop the clay) or buy the stuff with the binder in it. Sorry to confuse.

    How bout planting danelions they grow anywhere, plus there is a market for dandelion greens.

  13. joyfully

    joyfully New Member

    I have zoysia grass. I had the entire lawn covered in sod, not plugs. plugs are far cheaper to purchase the product, but it would be a HUGE undertaking to plant all of those plugs---and you would be paying someone alot of $ to plant all of those plugs. Zoysia is slow to get established so you would have weeds growing in the bare earth between the plugs. AND you would still have a mud pile for a couple of years. There is a type of zoysia called El Toro that is supposed to fill in faster. I don't even know if it is still available or how it would do that far north.

    Definitely NEVER NEVER use emerald zoysia, ESPECIALLY in the bank that you are needing to cover. Emerald Zoysia requires a special lawnmower to cut it. I usually get Meyer Zoysia for my lawns. It isn't cheap.

    When you call the extension service, also ask them about gypsum. Some clay is really helped by adding gypsum. It all depends upon what the composition of your clay is.