Molded/anerobic soil?

ElleBee5August 8, 2012

Hi there,

I'm new to this forum, so I apologize if I'm posting in the wrong place. After doing some research on this site, I feel like I have "diagnosed" my soil problem.

We rent our place, and on our patio, we have a section where they have laid dirt and then put small river rocks over it. There has been a foul oder which smells like it is getting worse. It smells like a combination of dog poop and moisture.

I called our landlord and they sent out someone who turned a couple of the rocks, but that did not seem to make a difference. I'm wondering if there are any tips to get rid of the smell? The only thing that I have found so far is that the soil needs to be turned, but that is hard to do since there are river rocks on top. Also, is there a way of preventing this from happening again? The area doesn't get much sun, but I'm concerned when it starts to rain that it will be out of control again!

Thanks so much!

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don_socal

My first suspicion is anaerobic bacteria meaning no oxygen in wet clay soil. If you dig down and find bluish soil that smells like methane drainage will help. It could also be a gas leak if the gas line is nearby have the Gas company check it, they will do it free.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:51PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

I am wondering if there is landscape fabric or plastic under those rocks....
I have seen that mucky slimy stinky thing happen with what's under and sometimes over landscape fabric that has filled in with silt and turned water proof.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:53PM
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west_gardener

It seems to me that you need drainage in the clay soil. I live in CA and have battled the clay for years. I even had the bluish clay that Don mentioned, in my now veggie garden.
I dug down about 2-1/2' removed about half of the clay and mixed the rest with a mixture of soil amendments , commercial clay busters, (bought at a large box store), homemade compost and garden soil. That took care of my drainage problem.
Good Luck.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 8:16PM
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west_gardener

I actually made a drainage test learned at the forum below.
Check it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 8:45PM
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ElleBee5

Thanks so much for all of the advice! There isn't any of the fabric underneath, but I'm assuming that it is clay soil. I guess my next big project is to remove all of those rocks and then turn the soil. Yikes!
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:09PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

If the gas company said the smell wasn't from a gas leak, you really will have to take care of the smell. Just remember, the process is not just 'turning the soil'; drainage and improvement are necessary ~ use westgardener's post for a guideline. While you can install french drains or a dry well to take care of the water-logging, it's actually easier to dig *deep*. If you don't have homemade compost, you can buy it by the bag, or use the lasagna method. "Lasagna" composting requires fresh greenery (lawn clipping, weeds, kitchen or even restuarant non-meat scraps) mixed more or less in equal proportions with dry stuff (shredded leaves, torn-up newspapers) and the stinky soil. Perfectionist-lasagna makers will sprinkle the layers with dried blood meal and/or alfalfa pellets and lime (not a must, but that does speed up the process). Adding gypsum or whatever soil-lightening material reccomended by your state's agricultural extention agent will help with the moisture issue. Build the layers up until the top surface is 6 to 12 inches higher than ground level. In 3 months to a year (depending mostly on ambient temperature and water) the layers will have turned into compost that makes most plants very happy. You can plant annuals (marigolds adore this stage) immediately, just surround the transplant with a couple inches standard potting soil... by the time the plant roots extend past the potting soil, the lasagna will provide nourishment. Don't forget to mulch around each plant so that you can enjoy the flowers without having to weed.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:00PM
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