soil amendment

Asked May 15, 2017, 12:40 AM EDT

hello

my front yard has soil that will not absorb water, snow melts it runs over the sidewalk, it rains and runs over the sidewalk, sprinkler system does the same, a lot of crab grass, how can I amend and get it to be water absorbent and grow grass and a tree or two? hopefully without complete excavation.

Adams County Colorado

1 Response

Thanks for getting in touch with us. It sounds as though you likely have a clay soil. Clay soils do not absorb water quickly. If you are planning to start over from scratch you have an excellent opportunity to amend approximately 2" of compost (up to 3" if you can find a plant based compost) at least 6-12" deep into your soil. Once you have amended you should consider using a method of watering called cycle and soak. Instead of watering for a long period of time, water until you begin to see water running off (often around 10 minutes but can be a short as 5 minutes). Then move to a different zone/turn off the water and let it soak in for 45-60 minutes before returning to the same area and watering for another short period. Depending on your sprinklers you may need to repeat this several times until you get the desired amount of water down. Generally a bluegrass lawn needs 1 1/2" - 2" of water a week in the summer months, divide this amount by how frequently you water. Water infrequently but deeply to encourage good deep root growth.
See the following fact sheets on soil amendment and renovating your home lawn as well as watering your lawn for more information:
http://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/07235.pdf
http://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/07241.pdf
http://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/07199.pdf

Good luck and please let us know if you have any further questions,