Clay soil is famous in the modern industrial processes and it is therefore not very clear how one can successfully grow anything on this type of soil. Taking from its rather unique characteristics (sticky and can be rolled into individual pieces when wet), clay soil is definitely not the easiest to work with in your garden or farm.
Surprisingly enough, poor clay soil is considered the best for planting crops and grass seed simply because it holds large amounts of nutrients and water. Dealing with poor clay soil in the garden or lawn is tough as it becomes easily compacted, giving plants a hard time when they try to penetrate their roots.
During springtime, they will take their sweet time before they warm up. Also, when the poor clay soil dries up, it becomes extremely hard like concrete and can even crack.
Plants and grass will therefore never thrive when exposed to the above conditions. Worry not though because lawns with clay soil can be amended to contain the best turf lawn in the neighborhood. To amend your poor clay soil for grass seed, you will first need to apply organic fertilizer for the entire season.
As summer approaches, you should prepare for mowing and in order to keep the soil cool, the grass clippings will be left behind. Since we already established that clay soil dries up quickly, ensure that it is watered consistently to allow for the penetration of water and nutrients. Also, as the temperature gets cooler, the lawn must be aerated followed by over-seeding of the grass seed and the application of organic fertilizer.
The lawn will then be covered with a thin layer of compost, and at the start of fall, mulching will commence and some leaves removed to enable aeration. The above process must be repeated yearly for long-term results and improvement of the soil.
This article will highlight some of the best grass seed for poor clay soil.
Comparison Table: The best grass seed for poor clay soil
|Type of seed grass||Characteristics||Price|
|Tall Fescue||Contains a trafficker that keeps seeds from washing away.
|Check Price Here|
|Buffalo Grass||Is planted as an ornamental or lawn grass.
|Check Price Here|
|Bermuda Grass||Grows quicker, thicker and greener.
|Check Price Here|
|Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Zoysia Grass Seed||Thrives in heat and drought.||Check Price Here|
|Kentucky bluegrass||Best when grown in high traffic areas.
|Check Price Here|
|Perennial ryegrass||It is a hardy type of grass that requires low maintenance.||Check Price Here|
Scotts EZ Seed Patch & Repair Tall Fescue Lawns
Tall fescue seeds will do well when planted on clay soil and all you have to do is ensure that your poor clay soil lawn has been prepared and well maintained to receive the seed and encourage its germination. Tall fescue is a cool-season grass and will thrive whether planted under direct sunlight or under a partial shade. Apart from being a suitable seed to plant on poor clay soil, the tall fescue grass will not succumb when planted in areas with high traffic or on the slopes.
Lawn owners must however be keen to institute the proper care given the delicate nature of the clay soil. The tall fescue grass is also able to achieve a full healthy cover once it has sprouted, thanks to its disease resistance capabilities. The tall fescue seeds are a darling to many lawn owners because they establish pretty fast and come in varieties of either the turf type or the dwarf type.
If you wish to achieve the cosmetic type of lawn then you can get the modern varieties that are characteristic of narrow blades and a dark green color. Tall fescue is additionally highly tolerant to cold, heat and drought.
- Tall fescue grass is low maintenance.
- Thrives in clay soil.
- It is heat and drought resistance.
- Establishes quickly from seed.
- The Scotts EZ seed tall fescue does not sprout easily.
Buffalo grass is a year-round forage grass, comprising of a dense turf and a thick sod. The leaves are gray-green and curly and are known to spread the creeping stolons. The plant will not only thrive when planted on clay but can very well survive the drought seasons. The seeds are known to germinate some seriously deep roots and are best planted when the temperatures remain above 60.
The plant is available in both male and the female but are borne separately and reproduce their seeds in burlike fruits. The grass seems to have cycles and will go dormant in the months of November and January and then green up in March and April.
- The seeds come in bulk and can be used for bulk planting or long storage.
- Will do well even under full light exposure.
- Can be transplanted to patchy areas of the lawn.
- Good for planting on clay soil.
- Requires moderate watering.
- Takes time to germinate.
- The microscopic size offers less value.
Bermuda grass seeds
Bermuda seeds can thrive in clay soil thanks to its deep root system known to produce rhizomes. The grass is tough to take on the scorching heat without necessarily drying up. Once it sprouts on the ground it aggressively spreads to grow a thick and durable lawn. Also, once it is grown, the Bermuda lawn grass is characteristic of a fine blade texture and will quickly establish an enviable cosmetic lawn.
Bermuda is in the category of grass that are hardy and can therefore resist insects. The seeds of the Bermuda grass will do well when planted in clay soil but once sprouted it does well in areas that have good amounts of rain. So, in areas that experience minimal rain, the lawn owner should be sure to water the seed at least two times in a day up until they sprout.
Bermuda grass can also help get rid of weeds in the lawn but with proper care and cultivation. To maintain the perfect cosmetic look ensure to mow your Bermuda grass to a blade height of either one or two inches.
- The Bermuda grass seeds are the best for filling up the bare spots or patches.
- The results are quick after planting.
- The grass is easy to care for.
- With proper care, it grows into a vibrant turf.
- Encourages the growth of weeds.
- The seeds in the pack cannot cover 1500sq. ft.
Zoysia grass seeds
Zoysia is a type of tough grass with blades that measure up to 5mm wide and about 40-50mm long. The seeds when sprouted are soft to touch making them the perfect grass for large lawns and gardens. Zoysia doesn’t spread very fast and its overall growth is also pretty slow. However, they interestingly spread using both the stolons and rhizomes.
Zoysia seeds can be sown on clay soil but they will need constant attention to thrive. Once planted the lawn owner must know that Zoysia doesn’t do so well in wet conditions and the soil must therefore be aerated especially in the springtime. Thatch maintenance is a must with Zoysia and to ensure that they germinate fully it must be provided with good drainage.
While most people will prefer to install the Zoysia grass by planting the seed, installing the grass by planting a live turf tends to be way better especially after it establishes a firm root system. The Sod, on the other hand, is known to enable an instant green lawn and will also keep the weeds away.
- Can survive in the colder temperatures.
- Seeds begin to sprout between 10 and 21 days.
- The seeds can cover up to 2,000sq. Ft.
- The growth is of fine texture.
- Takes long to sprout.
- Needs constant care and attention.
The Kentucky bluegrass does well in clay soil and in the cooler environments. You will also find it thriving in areas that experience high traffic such as in the golf courses, the camping grounds and in the sports fields. Once the seed has been sown it will spread through the rhizomes to form a dense sod. The soil should, therefore, be well-drained and fertile with a PH of either 6 or 7.
The Kentucky bluegrass has been developed into forage varieties (park, troy, and ginger) and are mostly used to create the cosmetic lawns. Lawn owners who would wish to settle for the turf type have to know that it will need dethatching to remain productive. Nitrogen fertilization is also a necessity for the Kentucky bluegrass complete with an extensive irrigation system.
- The seeds germinate very fast.
- Kentucky bluegrass achieves a full and perfect lawn.
- Good for developing the cosmetic lawns.
- Takes fairly less time to germinate.
- Need a lot of attention and care to achieve a thicker turf.
- The Scott turf builder Kentucky grass is highly-priced.
The perennial ryegrass thrives under full sun and will still survive under a partial shade. Once the seeds germinate you can expect the grass to exhibit high wear tolerance, even when planted in high traffic areas. The grass can be used to create both permanent and temporary lawns and does exhibit some good tolerance when exposed to cold temperatures.
Perennial ryegrass is known to sprout quickly when sown and once it is established, it will spread slowly. The traditional perennial grass cannot tolerate heat and drought because of its shallow roots. But the newly developed or improved varieties, are resistant to heat and drought. The grass is quite demanding when it comes to fertilizer and water and will therefore require attention during periods of heat and low rainfall.
Once grown the mowing height has been set at 1.5” to 2.5”. By maintaining the above height, the clump-forming perennial ryegrass will remain dense thus exude the best cosmetic look. When planted in clay soil, the perennial ryegrass performs exceptionally well thanks to its robust roots.
- The seedlings grow fast.
- The grass is tolerant of heat and drought and will also thrive in cold temperatures.
- Can withstand light shades.
- Recovers quickly after short periods of drought.
- Has high water and fertilizer needs.
Tips to help you maintain a healthy clay soil lawn
Clay soil has two qualities, it can either maintain water but when it dries up it resembles a dry brick stone. The other quality is that it will suck the life out of the turf in your lawn. So, while having a clay lawn might seem like bad luck, it actually isn’t because there are a myriad ways of ensuring that your lawn remains healthy and green for extended periods. We will therefore outline the dos and don’ts of managing a poor clay soil lawn.
- Avoid adding wood chips to your clay lawn, because they suck out nitrogen from the surrounding soil when they start to decompose. Many people add wood chips to their lawns because they believe that it adds nutrients to the soil and encourage water retention while suppressing weeds, the above does not apply to clay soil.
- Don’t allow your clay soil to dry up, because the movement of nutrients and water will be restricted, and the soil cannot be used to grow anything.
- Mulch your clay soil but do not mulch it too much. Lastly do not add sand to clay soil because it will turn into concrete-like soil.
Maintaining a cosmetic lawn can be possible even with poor clay soil as all you have to do is ensure that you have the best grass seed and prepare your clay soil to receive the grass seed. You may need to institute care and maintenance procedures to your clay soil when dealing with the hardy grass type. Remember that clay soil is very delicate and could easily choke your Kentucky bluegrass if neglected.
How do you derive a good lawn on clay soil?
Ensure to amend your clay soil using the procedure described at the beginning of this article
What plant crops thrive in clay soil?
Snap beans, chard, lettuce and cabbage among others