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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 8:43 am 
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Location: Dallas,TEXAS
I've got an area in my back yard that is heavily compacted because it used to have moderate foot traffic to and from our driveway. Last March I created a pathway using a mulch bed and stepping stones in order to aleviate the situation. Still, the St. Augustine growing in the areas of past traffic is significantly less thick and green as a result.

I've had the yard mechanically areated once this year already (February I believe) - although the area in question wasn't concentrated on any more than the rest of the yard. I also put down a liberal amount of lava sand (when I did my February fertilization) paying particualr attention to the problem area in the hopes that this would aleviate the problem to some degree. I realize the lava granuals are supposed to work their way into the soil over time, but this didn't seem to make a dent in the condition of the soil. I'd like to know if there are some other methods that might produce some results.

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~Dave Cluck


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 9:04 am 
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Deep watering is the best way to soften soil. It might take you awhile to be able to water deeply right there due to the compaction, but you need to work away at it little by little.

Mow the grass as high as the mower will go. In the areas of compaction, this is probably not a problem because the grass is probably several inches below the mower blade right now. But for the surrounding grass, mow that all the way as high as you can. Tall grass will help deepen the roots and soften the soil. Deep roots can allow water to go down deeper, so that is part of the reason you want to mow the grass higher.

Apply compost to the compacted area. Since it is a small area, I'll try to convert my normal application rate to a smaller area. Let's see here...if you normally apply 1 cubic yard of compost to 1,000 square feet, and there are 200 gallons per cubic yard, then for 100 square feet, you should apply 20 gallons of compost. For 10 square feet, 2 gallons of compost. Compost is usually sold in bags by the cubic foot. There are 7 gallons in one cubic foot, so about a quarter of a bag of compost per 10 square feet.

Apply corn meal at 1-2 pounds per 100 square feet. Corn meal will feed the microbes in the compost and soil. Well fed microbes will help soften your soil for you by digging deep holes and opening up pores in the soil for air and water to penetrate.

If you do all this, you should see improvement this season.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 9:26 am 
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Thanks for the helpful and instant reply :)

I'm already mowing the lawn as high as the mower can go and I've been deep watering once every 7 days as well. Adding compost is a little problematic for me because I have an 8 month old Jack Russel that eats everything in the yard that's larger than a dime and I'm not sure if that'd be healthy for her. I'll try a small test area and she how she does.

Thanks again!

Dave Cluck


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 11:03 am 
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If you apply the compost at the rates I've suggested, the dog will have to do a lot of licking to get to it. Think about spreading 1/4 of a small bag of compost over 10 square feet (2' x5'). That's a pretty thin layer. Once you apply it, use a push broom to sweep it down into the grass and onto the soil. It should be pretty invisible, to you anyway, when you're finished. If you water it in, your Jack Russell should be kept pretty occupied if she tries to get the compost out from that.

Or you could soak the compost in a 5-gallon bucket overnight and pour the water and compost on the area you want to cover. There's a lot of benefit to that. Flip over to Captain Compost's Dirt Doctor compost forum for more info on aerated compost teas.

Plus, I'm not sure anything in finished compost would hurt the dog. The same microbes live inside the dog's gut anyway. I'd rather have my dog eating compost than eating chemical fertilizer.

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