Using clay soil for lawns is something that has become increasingly popular in the UK over the past decade, despite it being a difficult soil type to upkeep if you don’t know the essential tips.
In this article, we will explore the best way to grow grass on clay soil in different months of the year and how to improve its overall health.
What is Clay Soil?
To understand the best way to grow grass on clay soil and manage its upkeep, it is best to, first of all, understand what clay soil is. Clay soil is a type of soil made up of very fine mineral particles and not a lot of organic material, giving it a sticky texture and a high water-holding capacity.
If you have ever noticed that water usually creates a puddle on the floor instead of soaking into the soil, it is likely that you have encountered clay soil, which is a type of topsoil. It is also likely that you have discovered clay soil if it feels smooth when a piece is rubbed between your finger and thumb. By understanding the properties and the negative impact clay soil could have on the growth and health of your garden, you can begin implementing methods for improving clay soil lawns.
What Problems Can You Encounter with Clay Soil?
A lot of individuals don’t know the best way to grow grass on clay soil or how to break down clay soil, which can lead to encountering problems with plant growth or health. Some common challenges that you could face with clay soil are poor drainage, waterlogging, compaction, a more acidic pH and slow to warm in the summer months.
Some of these problems are easier to solve than others and will impact lawns in different ways. If you encounter poor drainage and waterlogging, this could cause your lawns to stop growing and die as there isn’t enough sunlight to counteract the levels of water retention. If your clay soil is compacted, this would make it difficult for roots to continue growing as they would become suffocated and won’t absorb nutrients, leading to plant deterioration. Knowing how to break down clay soil is important when considering compaction, as this is a common but detrimental challenge to lawns.
Because clay soil has a lower pH, this could create challenges if the plant prefers a more acidic environment. Knowing how to raise the pH of the soil can be a simple task if you have the correct correction methods. If your clay soil is slow to warm in the winter months, this could lead to delayed growth and ‘workability’.
Improving Clay Soil Lawn in Winter
To get ready for the warmed months and the time when most lawns thrive, it is important to first begin improving clay soil lawns. In winter, this is the prime time to begin checking your soil pH levels and ensure they are at optimum levels. Clay soil has acidic tendencies, meaning you should spend this time balancing out the pH and finding the best fertilizer for clay soil to make this happen. Try to achieve a pH between 5.5 and 7 as this is the optimum level for grass to grow.
Improving Clay Soil Lawn in Spring
As spring approaches, you should begin creating aeration for the soil and encouraging drainage, which will be beneficial during the summer. Aeration is a good method to use when considering how to break down clay soil. You could buy an aerator to do this for you or you could do it manually using garden tools such as aerating sandals or a pitchfork. With aeration sandals, these are usually a quick fix as they don’t go as deep so don’t drain as well but are a lot more efficient. A pitchfork goes deeper in the clay soil, making this more effective for drainage but takes a lot longer to complete.
In the spring, you can also take the time to begin applying products to raise the soil pH, if it was not fully completed in the winter or different organic composts.
Improving Clay Soil Lawn in Summer
In the summer, your grass should be well on their way to thrive in the sunlight. It is now time to begin applying soil conditioner to your clay soil. This will help it strengthen and encourage growth and good health for the lawns. It is important to use soil conditioner correctly so you can receive your desired outcome.
As well as this, maintaining your lawn by mowing it frequently will help it continue to grow and stay strong. Different lawns thrive at their own optimum lengths, so it is important to research this before cutting your grass.
Improving Clay Soil Lawn in Autumn
Autumn is an important month for the maintenance of clay soil. You don’t want it to now become waterlogged and lose all the nutrients and hard work you have spent the first half of the year doing. This month, we recommend finding an organic feed containing high levels of phosphate to keep your soil strong and raking fallen leaves and debris to prevent them from smothering the grass. Also, adding horticultural grit could be useful if it has begun to waterlog or face problems.
Best Way to Grow Grass on Clay Soil – An Overview
To successfully grow grass on clay soil, a combination of strategies is necessary throughout the year. Start by checking you are at the optimum pH, followed by improving soil structure through aeration and organic matter amendments. Choosing grass varieties that are well-suited for clay soil conditions ensures better tolerance and growth. Regular maintenance practices such as proper mowing height, appropriate fertilisation and removing debris can help maintain the health and vitality of your lawn.
If you have any further queries or are looking for professionals to give advice on your clay soil, get in touch with our team at Alsoils. We sell a range of soil and topsoil products that stimulate growth in garden lawns and grass as well as in flower beds and allotments.