For a lawn to thrive it must have the proper mixture of soil, water, and sunlight. The soil is essential to proper plant (lawn) nourishment and growth. It must have the proper pH balance for the grass to grow properly. Good soils will produce enough organic material to maintain the proper pH, and these soils keep enough water at the proper levels to maintain healthy grass. Unfortunately, most soil isn’t like that so we will discuss how to fix problem soils.
Sandy, loamy, and clay are the three main different types of soils. Sandy soil has a problem holding water. It is absorbed rather quickly, but instead of feeding the plants and moving nutrients, it falls directly into the bedrock and is lost doing little for the grass. Clay soils are completely opposite of this. They absorb water and hold onto it not allowing it to drain at all. The soil then becomes muddy & can even have standing water on it. All the excess water creates extra stress on the grass roots which inhibit development. Loamy soil is ideal. It holds water, but only until saturated. Any extra water drains to the bedrock. This gives plant roots the suitable access they need to water, nutrients, and space allowing them much more health.
Repair of lawn soil can be done in one of two ways. First you can us a soil supplement or build the soil up over the course of a few years with a shallow layer of topdressing a few times a year. Or second, you can tear it all our and start completely over. For either solution you should use a 4-way soil mix that includes at least compost, sand, topsoil, and peat moss.
There are usually only two reasons for lawn watering problems: one, bad soil, and two, not having a good watering system. If you have clay soil & find you get a lot of standing water you can install a French drain or a layer of rock in those areas for a quicker solution. However, if you want to go more permanent you have to change the soil structure. Lack of water can be a problem, and many lawns will turn yellow if this happens. However, most species of grass don’t die with too little water, they just go dormant. So for a green lawn, just water on a regular basis & be patient.
Trees & water: Trees may be a problem with watering as well. They may block some areas of the grass from getting enough water, and they roots may “steal” any water that was intended for the lawn. You may need to take this into consideration when repairing your lawn.
Sunlight: Different species of grass are designed for different atmospheres. There is a whole industry built around the development of different hybrid species of grasses that will grow in just about any situation. There are a few things that need to be considered when you are doing lawn repair.
1) Are there problem areas of your lawn where the grass has to compete with a lot of shade? (i.e. fences, house, bushes, etc).
2) Determine the directions around your house, where north is.
From that you can plan what seed to plant. If your lawn is south of your house it will get a lot more sunlight than if it is north of your house (where it would get a lot more shade). Lawn repair can be done by simply pruning back overgrown vegetation that is shading too much of the lawn, or just reseeding with a good shade seed.