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

2 Responses

Thank you for your question for eXtension. The topic area in which you've made a request is not yet fully staffed by eXtension experts and therefore we cannot provide you with a timely answer. Instead, if you live in the United States, please consider contacting the Cooperative Extension office closest to you. Simply go to http://articles.extension.org, drop in your zip code and choose the office that is most convenient for you. We apologize that we can't help you right now, but please come back to eXtension to check in as we grow and add experts.

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.