I put new topsoil down and now my yard is more swampy than before.

Asked December 2, 2018, 1:17 PM EST

Hi there, I live in an area where there is alot of clay and draingage has always been an issue. I have had a hard time growing grass in parts, this past summer I put in 36 yards of topsoil and releveling off the yard. Then I hydroseeded in mid July. Now I feel like when its wet out the whole back yard is complete mush and alot of grass has disapaited. RIght now it looks like a huge swamp with large puddles that pool. I keep telling myself that the grass hasnt been able to take full root and the soil needs to compact some for it to be better. But I also think, maybe I made it worse. I am looking for suggestions and also hope.

Midland County Michigan lawn care topsoil

2 Responses

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Hello again,

Some additional info for you, if you haven’t received it yet from your local extension office-

Firstly, if you haven’t had one yet, a soil test will determine how much clay you have in the soil below the topsoil you added. A soil test will tell you not only the type of soil but, the nutrient level and the amount of organic matter, as well as the pH of the soil; all factors that affect plant growth. You take a sample when the ground is not frozen, so your next opportunity to have a test done is next spring.

Purchase a soil test self-mailer here- https://homesoiltest.msu.edu/get-started

It sounds as if you placed a lot of top soil on the area. If this was not mixed in with your ‘native’ soil but just spread on top, and was spread more than 1-2 inches deep, then it creates a barrier between the lower layer and the upper layer that water tends not to cross, making a mushy environment of the upper layer.

To improve clay soils it is recommended to work organic matter in, usually with a rototiller (or a garden fork for small areas), rake level, and then plant the lawn. This can be done next spring or early next fall. These are the two best times to re-establish a lawn.

In an existing lawn you core aerate it, top dress with 1/4-1/2 inch of compost so that it falls into the aeration holes, and mulch the grass clippings each time you mow. This is a slow process and must be repeated each year for several years in a row, until your lawn grows to the quality level you desire.

I am including references for you that explain this. Also you may call the free MSU Garden Hotline(Winter hours are M-F 8:30-Noon) and ask any questions about these techniques. The number is 1-888-678-3464

I hope this info is helpful. Thanks again, for using our service.

References-

https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/establishing_a_new_lawn_using_seed_e2910

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_to_do_about_compacted_soil

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/430/430-002/430-002_pdf.pdf