Have you noticed any large water puddles on your lawn after a heavy rainfall or when the snow melts in the Spring? The water puddles remain on the surface of your lawn for a few days before it dissipates. The accumulation of surface water or poor lawn drainage could be a result of soil compaction. Soil compaction occurs when the soil particles are compressed together eliminating most pore spaces that are usually filled with air and water. The mineral grains in clay soil are compressed together tightly preventing water from being absorbed. Soil compaction is ideal if you are building a walkway, patio, or even a road but for a lawn not so good.
Clay soil is mostly clay and silt. The small particles cling together capturing some water and rich nutrients closely. This tight compaction structure prevents excess water from draining and can cause a lawn drainage problem. The clay soil appearance is sticky and brown in color that balls up in large size, heavy clumps. Clay soil will cling to your garden gloves, tools and garden boots, and has a slippery feel to it. Maybe you have noticed that when working in clay soil it is extremely difficult to break into or dig out.
Likewise, heavy clay soil texture hinders plant roots from reaching nutrients and moisture locked within the clay soil. And conversely clay soil that retains water also prevents water from draining. If water does not drain properly away from your grass roots and too much water remains on the grass, the grass will suffer. Grass lawns with excess water or rainfall that is not absorbed can create a lawn drainage problem.
You can add sphagnum peat moss to clay soil to improve water absorption for future use. Sphagnum peat moss lightens clay soil providing access to the nutrients locked inside clay soil. As clay soil becomes lighter, the soil will become more aerated.
Another source to consider for clay soil lawns, is Garden Gypsum. Gypsum is a natural mineral, great source of calcium, and soil conditioner that reconditions the clay soil so it binds organic matter to the clay. This clay soil break down process promotes soil aeration to improved soil structure and strong root growth. Nutrients and moisture are more easily absorbed by grass roots with soil that is light and airy. As clay soil breaks down, aeration is improved and the once clumped soil allows excess water to drain. And in some cases, Gypsum may even help with repairing pet turf burns as well.
If you are experiencing poor lawn drainage, saturated soil or soil compaction in your lawn you may want to check your soil to see if you have a soil compaction problem. Lawn grass or garden plants will continue to struggle to tap into nutrient rich clay soils until the condition is resolved.
If you are creating a new garden it is easy to mix in compost, organic humus, or sphagnum peat moss into your garden soil while preparing the garden bed. For a large front yard or backyard, adding compost or sphagnum peat moss will be more time consuming. Pelleted Gypsum might be a better method of treating clay lawn soil. It can be applied using a lawn spreader and immediately water your lawn afterwards so the the gypsum begins to penetrate the clay soil. If you are experiencing a similar problem let us know what you think.
And if you have any questions about your garden, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below. We always are ready to help you out. Be sure to check out our other posts regarding soil amendments. Additional information and specifics on soil amendments can be found in How to Make a Fertile Garden with Soil Amendments post or 12 Incredible Soil Conditioners: Improve Garden Soil Structure.