Laying sod on hard clay soil

During the Spring and Summer months, we get a lot of questions about laying sod. Sod is a big investment and people are concerned that they get a beautiful lawn in return. 

Sod roll

Based on the questions I get from customers, there are two common situations that lead someone to want to put down sod.

1. The home is a new construction.
2. The previous lawn died and needs to be replaced.

If you have a new home in an area that has hard clay soil you may feel like you are trying to get grass to grow on concrete or peanut butter depending on moister of the soil.

When you build a home the contractor will dig a hole for the foundation and pile up the soil. When the home is finished they level out the piles of dirt for the yard. Any "topsoil" that mixes with the "bottom" soil from the foundation will likely leave you with questionable soil for your yard. The primary difference between healthy, fertile topsoil and soil from 6-10 feet down a hole is not the dirt but the amount of organic matter or humus in the soil. 

Humus is compost broken down to its base components. Ideally, you want to have at least 5% humus in the soil. This humus feeds the living biological organisms in the soil that in-turn release nutrients and soften the structure of the clay soil. Humus is what gives the fertile soil the dark color. 

For an area the size of a lawn, mixing in compost can be an overwhelming task. I have even talked with some homeowners that were seriously considering removing the top layer of clay soil and replacing it with good "topsoil". 

The process of building up the quantity of humus in the soil by adding compost can take years in a garden where the soil is accessible. For the soil under sod, working compost into the soil is not really an option.

For an area like a lawn, a liquid concentrate of humus can make amending the clay soil much easier and faster. 

If you have laid or are planning to lay sod this spring and you have clay soil, 2-3 applications of RestoreClay will make a big difference. Apply RestoreClay either directly to the bare clay soil, or to the sod after being laid.  Plan on a second application in 6-8 weeks and a third 6-8 weeks after that. Once the sod is established 1-2 applications a year will help keep it green and healthy. 

RestoreClay is a concentration of humus, soil biology, and organic acids. It is uniquely formulated to amend and transform hard clay soil into the productive growing soil you want.  When applied to new sod it will start to soften the clay for better water penetration and deeper root growth. Soil biology will release the nutrients trapped in the clay and make them available to the sod. 

A good way to measure the soils transformation is with a wire test. Take a straight piece of wire and insert into the soil until it stops. Measure the penetration then repeat every few weeks. The wire is a good indicator as to how deep the roots are able to penetrate.
At SoundSoil we find the best Biological Soil Amendments available in the agricultural world and are making them available to homeowners.

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