Replacing Soil

Discuss how to and whether you should renovate your lawn
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Posts: 6
Joined: August 12th, 2021, 10:06 am
Location: Mid-Atlantic: DC/VA
Grass Type: talk fescue
Lawn Size: < 1000
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Replacing Soil

Post by Oozz » August 14th, 2021, 4:12 pm

Hello -

I have a fairly small area (170 sq ft) in my backyard I would like grow grass on. I have a large retaining wall holding this area in place. The issue is that the soil is primarily clay and does not drain well. It’s graded so that water moves to the end of the wall and flows to the end the wall and into the gravel backfill. However, it takes forever to drain through the clay, causing water to accumulate for long periods of time. This makes the yard very muddy and any grass around the edge of the all would surely die from flooding. There is also a ton of rocks.

Because it’s such a small area, I’m thinking about just taking replacing the top 4-5 inches of clay with a mix of top soil and compost. Then seeding or placing sod in early September. My hypothesis is that this will drain much better around the edges of the wall, preventing water from accumulating and killing the grass. The rest of the yard will also be less muddy. I’ll keep the clay underneath compacted and graded towards the wall perimeter to make sure water continues to flow the in right direction. This would also get rid of all the debris in the yard from all the hardscaping that has been done.

My soil test is in the soil forums. Haven’t gotten a response yet.


Pirate Russ
Posts: 266
Joined: August 25th, 2010, 11:26 am
Location: Northern NJ
Grass Type: Turbo, Cochise IV, FalconV and LS1200 TTTF and Award KBG
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Re: Replacing Soil

Post by Pirate Russ » August 19th, 2021, 10:32 am

You can certainly do what you are recommending, but you can also improve the soil by using soil conditioners/liquid aerating products (see section on it on the board). In our development which was originally farmland, the builders stripped off all the topsoil and sold it. While i was not the original homeowner, when i moved here, the PH was 5.2 and it was the worst soil you can imagine (hard clay which i could not get a probe into). Over the years of using organics and soil conditioners, it is so much better.

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