Your lawn is too sandy, it’s full of clay, it’s compacted, or perhaps the topsoil is thinner than the crust of your favorite pizza? I’ve heard it all before. I have good news friend! You can grow a lawn in just about anything, the problem becomes when the weather gets real dry or real wet, then you have an issue. Furthermore, the types of grass you have present is of equal or perhaps more value than the medium it is rooted in today. Sure there are ideal scenarios, but who gets a generous contractor that dumps loads of loam, rich in color and organic matter at your new house? I won’t even answer that one. Lawns fall into an assortment of sorrow from the new house with its fresh driveway and stony, gravel like appearance to the old meadow now turned into a housing development where you might actually retain some loam!
How can we improve that sandy beach of a lawn and get some organic matter where it counts? There are many ways. First, recycle your clippings whenever possible back onto the lawn. Topdressing in the fall or spring can add a nice layer of organic matter, plus you can seed over it later. Topdressing is a great way to speed up the organic matter content in your soil. Soil amendments like sea kelp and compost tea also help promote beneficial bacteria and other microbes, enhancing the material surrounding the grass roots. Core aeration reduces compaction and helps with those soils high in clay among having many other benefits.
Your existing lawn does not mean you cannot add more or better suited grasses by overseeding and aerating. Adding superior grasses can improve your existing lawn each season, changing the composition over time to better tolerate drought, shade, or improve color. The right grass in the right location can mean a world of difference when high heat arrives or your soil is below average. Turf grasses vary in where they prefer to grow or tolerate. I often see shaded turf in full sun only to brown out early in the season due to excessive heat, never mind the water holding capacity of the soil underneath. Blends of grass seed are numerous, and the right combination for the site is of utmost importance. Some turf grasses have a great color but may be susceptible to disease, while others tolerate shade or heat. Having the right blend of grass seed present in your home lawn would be akin to the right oil viscosity in your engine.
Before you throw up your hands and get a quote from a paving company to destroy your lawn, pause on the options and see what can be done this year. I have found most lawns can be salvaged and improved upon without starting from fresh, bare loam. Grass may seem simple enough, but having the right harmony with the soil to grass varieties is another story altogether.