Can't keep the grass growing

Asked March 4, 2013, 12:03 AM EST

We re-did the back yard. We put down sod. It died over the winter. I re sodded, same thing happened. I asked why. They told me to bring in top soil and root till it for a better base. Again, most of the new sod died. We over seeded and the grass came in great but died off to nothing during the winter. We can NOT keep grass growing in our back yard!!! Please help.

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for your question to Ask the Expert.

From your description, it sounds that your site has very poor drainage. How was the soil initially prepared for sod? It is possible that there is an impermeable layer of clayey soil 8-12" below the surface such that water will not penetrate and forms a "bathtub" effect where the roots are submerged in water. Rototilling topsoil into the surface will not help to break up this interface. In order to remedy this poor drainage, mechanically digging organic matter (compost) into this hard layer might help. This would likely need to be performed by a back hoe or excavator (you'll want to check for utilities first by calling 811). Then the surface 6" can be rototilled to create a seed/sod bed for the turf grass.

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Weston