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Lawn SOS - clay + non-irrigated + windy and dry

Posted by sharon67218 6 (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 19:17

I live in Wichita KS where the soil is clay. It gets hot and cold and I try to water as little as possible.

I have lived here 8 years and the one year we had a nice lawn was right after we had sod laid. Every year I dump compost on top and reseed.

I tried Armadillo grass and I tried Turf Alive from Gardens Alive. Even they did not work well. Buffalo grass never sprouted. I don't use chemicals unless they are natural.

What can I do more to help the soil get grass going and get the roots deep enough they will survive our hot dry summers?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Lawn SOS - clay + non-irrigated + windy and dry

When you put the seed out, do you follow the instructions to water briefly, 3x per day for several weeks? If not then nothing will germinate.

Once the grass is up and maturing you might have to up your watering. Any turf type grass will need weekly watering in the heat of summer. This time of year you can get away with monthly watering in KS but as the temps warm it needs it more frequently. If you are not willing to dump 1 full inch per week in the summer, then you should look into alternatives to typical lawn grasses. This deep watering is what will generate the deep roots you need for the summer time.

The best time to establish seeded northern grasses is in the fall (late August).

I'm not sure what natural chemicals are, but I fertilize with alfalfa pellets most of the time.

RE: Lawn SOS - clay + non-irrigated + windy and dry

Thanks dchall,
The grass seed always germinates, but by the end of the season it is toast. The soil is too poor for the roots to really get a good chance to grow.

In KS in the summer, you pretty much water the lawn every other day and the garden 2x per day or nothing grows. Most people water daily when it gets real hot. I am good about watering, but the climate + poor soil are too much.

I never try typical grass seed. I am always trying something new, but the culprit seems to be soil not the seed.

Wichita is actually 6-7 zone, so we are more like south than north.

By "natural" I mean I don't hire the "Green Team" that comes out with their sprayers and spray herbicide and pesticide. I use organic materials. I hadn't tried alfalfa pellets. I will look for those.

RE: Lawn SOS - clay + non-irrigated + windy and dry

Follow up question for dchall,
Tractor supply has horse forage in the form of pellets. Is that what you are talking about?

RE: Lawn SOS - clay + non-irrigated + windy and dry

Have to laugh (because I wasn't clear) pellets are the size of your fist. I'm talking about rabbit chow, 1/4-inch pellets.

The zones have to do with winter survivability more than anything. You're smack in the middle of fescue and Kentucky bluegrass ville.

If you plant your seed in late August that will give the grass plenty of time to germinate in the fall and see if you need to fill in with more. It will also give the grass time to develop sturdy roots which can survive the summer heat. When you seed in the spring, there's little chance the juvenile grass can survive.

Just because everyone is doing it, that doesn't make it right. Watering daily or even every other day is a problem for most grass. It invites weed seeds to germinate and can cause problems with the beneficial microbes that create healthy soil.

Do you have any grass now? Is it possible to nurse the lawn through until August?

RE: Lawn SOS - clay + non-irrigated + windy and dry

Winter survivability in South Central KS is not a problem. Summer is. We basically have the winters of Minnesota and the summers of California, only add nonstop wind that dries out the ground and makes it very hard for grass to survive.

I agree that just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it right (i.e., pesticides and herbicides in your yard). I have observed though, that those who water daily in Wichita have much better yards than those who do not. My preference is to grow indigenous plants as much as possible so that I don't have to do this and use unnecessary water. They too have had a tough time in clay, wind, and heat.

There is grass now, but given the sand and clay content in the soil, there are huge swathes of bare ground. Every year the grass dies in large areas. I am definitely going to try your alfalfa soil amendment suggestion, especially on these spots. Other things i have done is to lay compost and plant clover, as well as seed with more "rugged" grass seed.

I have seeded in the spring and seeded in the fall. Fall planting did not help once it got hot and dry and the soil dries up.

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