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Seeded last spring, now what to do...

8 years ago


This will be a little long to try to get as many facts as I can. We purchased a home last December. The house is on a lakefront lot, with the back yard on a fairly steep slope as it goes down to the lake. When we moved in the entire slope was covered with river stone on top of earth fabric. This was, I assume, the prior owners' low maintenance way of controlling erosion.

As soon as weather permitted, we were outside removing all the stone and ripping up the earth fabric. What we quickly discovered was that our soil was clay, heavily compacted clay. I introduced myself to this forum and started reading. I was anxious to get something growing and so I tilled the clay, mixed in a fair amount of top soil and threw some grass and white clover seed down in mid May (mix of perennial ryegrass, kbg and a little bit of fescue). In hindsight this may have been a little hasty. I covered with weedless straw and watered regularly. By early June I was happy to see a fair amount of new growth. In the fall of last year I raked over the grass that survived through summer, added some scotts fertilizer and put down and 1/4 inch layer of richer top soil and compost.
Just before winter set in I got a basic soil test from the extension office. It reported more alkaline, very low nitrogen, high phosphorus and high potash. The only thing I did this spring was to add some more compost and fertilizer in early May.

As things currently stand, the grass didn't stay very green for very long this summer. It quickly turned brown and looks thin/patchy. There are a fair amount of large trees that shade the slope, much of it only gets 4-5 hours of light. My goal with the white clover was to help penetrate roots into the heavy clay.

Should I overseed now on Sept. 1? Do I core aerate? Should I add more fescues for shade? I've read about the baby shampoo technique, but am skeptical. I have clay, I think the alkalinity confirms that and when it gets wet I can make a hard ball of it in my hand. I'm unsure if I should add more topdressing because of the slope I'm on.

Any an all advice would be greatly appreciated. More photos to follow.



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