Best way to fix deep ruts

Discuss how to and whether you should renovate your lawn
Post Reply
falcon
Posts: 84
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by falcon » February 13th, 2020, 2:15 pm

Hello,

I moved to a new house last summer with a detached barn that required me to drive over parts of the lawn. I drove mostly over an area that is basically packed dirt, but I also had to drive over a softer part of the lawn and it left several ruts that are 3-6" deep.

I'm wondering what the best way to rectify this is. I live in Reading, MA and I have not had a soil test yet, but the neighbors told me that the old owner had a huge garden there and would have compost trucked in every couple of years. That's now the best part of the lawn - minus the ruts!

So, should I just fill these ruts in with topsoil slowly? What is the ideal time of year to do this?

Thanks for the help!

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 29040
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by andy10917 » February 13th, 2020, 7:51 pm

How long is the area that needs to be fixed? It matters because the best way to fix it is manual,

TimmyG
Posts: 2244
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 6:04 pm
Location: Dracut, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Experienced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by TimmyG » February 13th, 2020, 10:45 pm


falcon
Posts: 84
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by falcon » February 15th, 2020, 8:43 am

I would estimate that there are 3-5 ruts close to each other that are 50' long each.

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 29040
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by andy10917 » February 15th, 2020, 9:54 am

The technique that actually fixes the problem is to use a spading fork (often incorrectly called a pitchfork) to lift the compacted area as much as possible. That may be too much work for multiple 50' tracks. Just putting dirt on top hides the compacted soil but leaves the actual problem.


falcon
Posts: 84
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by falcon » February 15th, 2020, 1:08 pm

andy10917 wrote:
February 15th, 2020, 9:54 am
The technique that actually fixes the problem is to use a spading fork (often incorrectly called a pitchfork) to lift the compacted area as much as possible. That may be too much work for multiple 50' tracks. Just putting dirt on top hides the compacted soil but leaves the actual problem.
Great. Thank you. I'll do it by hand...the yard needs a ton of work anyway!

falcon
Posts: 84
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by falcon » February 15th, 2020, 1:16 pm

Is top dressing the lawn appropriate for other low spots that are not caused by compaction?

Green
Posts: 6538
Joined: September 14th, 2012, 10:53 pm
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, and FF (various mixtures)
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Experienced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by Green » February 25th, 2020, 11:05 pm

[quote=falcon post_id=338352 time=1581787019 user_id=9691]
Is top dressing the lawn appropriate for other low spots that are not caused by compaction?
[/quote]

Yes. But don't top dress with compost. It'll break down over time.

falcon
Posts: 84
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by falcon » February 26th, 2020, 1:45 pm

Green wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 11:05 pm
falcon wrote:
February 15th, 2020, 1:16 pm
Is top dressing the lawn appropriate for other low spots that are not caused by compaction?
Yes. But don't top dress with compost. It'll break down over time.
I assume topsoil is the proper material? I see all kinds of people using sand online which just seems...strange.

Green
Posts: 6538
Joined: September 14th, 2012, 10:53 pm
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, and FF (various mixtures)
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Experienced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by Green » February 29th, 2020, 10:53 pm

Those people are using sand because they have sandy soil, and it does not break down at all. You can always add organic matter, but you can't remove it. I personally mix sand and compost, but not too much compost; I don't want to overdo the organic matter because it'll just sink again. More like 2/3 sand and 1/3 compost. It will sink some over time, but not as bad as pure compost, and it won't compact like pure sand, either. Plus, it matches my soil better.

Green
Posts: 6538
Joined: September 14th, 2012, 10:53 pm
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, and FF (various mixtures)
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Experienced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by Green » March 1st, 2020, 1:12 am

And I'll add: topsoil is really just a name for a soil that is derived from upper layers. A sandy loam topsoil, though, is just a specific combination of compost and sand, basically. Buying sand and topsoil and mixing it yourself can be cost effective.

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 29040
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by andy10917 » March 1st, 2020, 10:33 am

A sandy loam topsoil, though, is just a specific combination of compost and sand
That is not so.

There are four components that make up a real-world soil - sand, silt, clay and organic matter. The USDA publishes a triangle chart that identifies all soil types, based on the percentages of sand, silt and clay components. Organic matter is not a component of the mineral soil, but does affect TEC. The chart is available in the "Soil Management Part 1" article.

Green
Posts: 6538
Joined: September 14th, 2012, 10:53 pm
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, and FF (various mixtures)
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Experienced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by Green » March 1st, 2020, 10:55 pm

In other words, Organic matter is not one of the 3 base components of the soil, but is something that comes later. So that means the soil base is an inorganic mixture of the other 3.

Silt is the one of the 3 I know the least about. I know what sand looks like and what clay looks like.

That said, if one wanted to approximate their native soil better by mixing the correct components, where would you go to buy the silt component to add into your leveling mix? Since that is probably the missing factor in my leveling mixes. And then you need a soil structure test that determines roughly how much of the 4 components are needed. Is the jar test useful for doing this?

northeastlawn
Posts: 1101
Joined: June 1st, 2015, 3:10 pm
Location: S.E. Mass.
Grass Type: KBG
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Experienced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by northeastlawn » March 2nd, 2020, 6:11 pm

I remember someone on here, maybe Andy, recommending a mix of.....

Top Soil, Sand, and Compost to fill in spots; like the divot mix golf courses use.

I tried to use something like this to level my yard a few years back when I did my reno. Unfortunately a big rain swept a lot of my leveling away before the grass established, but the mixture did seem to match the native top soil pretty well.

I have also used the pitch fork trick whenever someone parks in my hell strip, It works pretty good. What I find also helps is poking holes in those compressed areas to get the water in there so the grass roots gets that deeper water when it gets warmer.

User avatar
ken-n-nancy
Posts: 2459
Joined: July 17th, 2014, 3:58 pm
Location: Bedford, NH
Grass Type: Front: KBG (Bewitched+Prosperity); Side: Bewitched KBG; Back: Fine Fescue Blend + Prosperity
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Experienced

Re: Best way to fix deep ruts

Post by ken-n-nancy » April 13th, 2020, 11:50 am

andy10917 wrote:
February 15th, 2020, 9:54 am
The technique that actually fixes the problem is to use a spading fork (often incorrectly called a pitchfork) to lift the compacted area as much as possible. That may be too much work for multiple 50' tracks. Just putting dirt on top hides the compacted soil but leaves the actual problem.
+1. I've had great success with the above. It's really the best way to do it, albeit a little labor-intensive.

The one gotcha is that if you have in-ground irrigation pipes, the spading fork approach will show you anywhere that your irrigation installer didn't get the polypipe submerged quite as far as desired. (Been there, done that, got the T-shirt...)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests