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seed variety for gravely soil

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by coachgrd on May 23, 2006 01:43 AM
Hello everyone...this is my first posting here and boy am I glad to have found you! I'm hoping all of you can help me get my lawn looking like a fairway!

A little back ground on my situation: We built our house 5 years ago on some property that is nothing but bank gravel...very little, if any top soil or clay. It allowed for us to go with an in-ground septic system and save some $$$ but unfortunatly the ground is not real conducive to a nice lawn once the mid-summer rolls around. With this excellent drainage, as soon as we have any extended period of dry warm weather, the lawn burns up not long after. And we're not exactly talking the southwest US either...I live in extreme northwestern PA. What we consider 'heat' might be scoffed at by you folks in Arizona-Florida-Texas, etc.

I'm hoping after having read this far you can help me answer a few questions. First, short of ripping up the lawn and mixing in some top soil, is there anything I can do about the lack of top soil? Is there a variety of grass that can withstand severe drought conditions like this? I'd really like the lawn to look like it does right now come July-August, instead of the dry burned-out look.

Thanks in advance for any help...
by RugbyHukr on May 23, 2006 03:05 AM
you could use a bermuda or a zoysia. they would tolerate little water & turn brown over winter as they go dormant.

however, you may need to add organic material to your lawn no matter what type of grass. i would suggest getting or renting a roller for your lawn, this way you can add rich organic material to the lawn w/o burying the existing grass.

little by little you can build up your lawn, this way. if there is a lot of rock underneath, the grass roots are probably getting 'cooked'.

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I love the sweet scents wafting in the breeze. I stop to admire the vibrant colors of all living things. And people think me odd. Then ODD I am!!!
by Longy on May 23, 2006 08:30 AM
You could topdress the lawn over a period of seasons with a good seived loam. It will eventually raise the level of the area an inch or so, depending on how much you do it. Maybe a few inches. Do you have the height available to do that? Also, don't catch your grass clippings. Allow them to return to the soil. Preferably use a mulching mower.
Don't use chemical fertilizers. They will just leach out and do nothing to improve the texture of the soil. Use organic ferts like pelletised chicken manure or similar, blood and bone meal etc and only use them when there is going to be plenty of moisture available. Fertilizing lawn which is not currently growing is a waste.
Cut the grass long, so the roots are protected from drying out. Long lawn stays healthier and retains moisture better than close cut lawn as well as crowding out weeds better.
Is the septic system a recycling type? One that pumps the treated water out onto gardens/lawns? If so, this is a perfect way to use that treated water.
That's all i can come up with for now. :-)

Oops, no, i just remembered. If you can access some clay from somewhere, get it and mix it with water. Stir the brew well for ages until the clay eventually breaks down and 'dissolves'. You may need to pour the stuff thru a seive in case there are lumps that won't break down. Anyway, the resulting 'mud' should be watered down to the consistency of thick water. Then use a watering can to water it on your lawn. The clay holds huge amounts of nutrient and minerals in it which ordinarily can't be used by most plants but this method will make that nutrient available as well as supplying your lawn with a water retaining additive. Patch test it on a small area first to ensure the clay doesn't have any undesirable effects. If it does, you need to source clay from elsewhere.
That sticky yellow/orange coloured clay works well.
There. I'm out of ideas now.

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The secret is the soil.
by The Plant Doc on May 23, 2006 03:21 PM
You can sprout seed in a cotton ball as long as there is enough moisture, but it will not last long if there is no organic matter to feed the plant. If only gravel is available it won't even do any good to fertilize as it will just leach on through. You will need to add some sort of top dressing to the area at least 3 to 4 inches deep, preferably more, for any good lawn to flourish.
I wish I had better news for ya. [Smile]

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Mike Maier
The Plant Doc

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