How to Grow Grass on Clay Soil? | Step-by-Step Guide

how to grow grass on clay soil

Growing and maintaining lush, nutritious grass in clay soil can be challenging. You might wonder whether clay soil is even conducive to grass growth. You needn’t be concerned, though, as we’ve researched to figure out how to grow grass on land with clay soil. Continue reading to learn helpful advice for growing a lovely, healthy grass lawn in clay soil. There’s no need to give up on your goal because certain grasses can succeed on this kind of ground for years.

Steps for Growing Grass on Clay Soil 

1. Testing Clay Soil Density 

It can be a delightful experience to create a green environment outside your door. A healthy, well-kept grass not increases a home’s curb appeal but also creates a pleasant energy field. But due to compaction in clay soil, an arid lawn with earth that feels like a hard rock can make snobby relatives cringe. While it is simple to determine the soil in your lawn, it is advisable to test for density what specific type of clay soil you have and begin the proper treatment.

You may do that by scooping out at least half a cup, dipping it in a few drops of water, rolling it into a ball, and then removing it from your hand. When it breaks at 1 inch, it is either loam or silt; at 2 inches, it is clay loam; at more, it is heavy clay. By hand-texturing your soil, you can figure out what type of soil you have and the best course of action.

2. Treatment of Clay Soil 

The nature of clay soil prevents grass or vegetation from having easy access to vital minerals. The method to turn it over is to strengthen the soil’s structure and tilth. By boosting deep root penetration, good tilth, incidentally, aids in enhancing the viability of growing grass seeds.

To do this, mix organic components like compost and manure while stirring clay. Add some road base stones, gypsum, coarse sand, and animal manure (excluding chicken). To soften the clay soil and provide space for seedlings to take root, a aerator and scarifier can help minimize your efforts by penetrating deeper and longer into the soil. To avoid hardening over the summer, keep it hydrated with a thick layer of mulch.

3. Testing Clay Soil Again 

The second time the soil is examined after treatment, it should be tested to determine if there is sufficient organic matter. When the soil is pushed between the thumb and index finger, ideal soil treatment should prevent it from forming a lengthy ribbon. Spread and work in a new layer of organic compost or mulch if you notice it is developing a ribbon longer than 1 inch. To give the compost time to alter the soil’s composition, wait a little before performing the ball test again.

4. Clay Soil Preparation for Planting Seeds 

Clay soil needs to be treated before grass seed is typically planted. Gardening experts strongly advise ripping it up at a depth of between 350 and 450mm to promote proper root development.

Compacted soils are also broken up in this way. Properly ripping compost and another organic material into the dirt is necessary. In addition, chemical supplements like gypsum and other liquid clay breakers have the same effect. Use a rototiller, such as this 16-Inch 12-Amp Electric Tiller and Cultivator, to help mix compost into the soil while dislodging compaction.

5. Planting Grass Seeds in Clay Soil 

To determine how many plugs or how much seed you will need for your chosen variety of grass and space, first measure the area where the seeds will be placed as a lawn.

Next, split the seed into two equal portions for planting the area. Distribute half of the seed across the selected area using a broadcast spreader while moving in a vertical path. After that, move in the other direction to ensure an even distribution of the second half of the seed. Apply a light covering of straw mulch after rolling the seeded area with a grass roller that is moistened with water.

How to Grow Grass in Red Clay Soil?

If you plan to grow grass on red clay soil, you may first need to determine the ph level of soil, and you may need to prepare the soil by adding lime before adding compost. This will assist in bringing the pH level of the soil into balance, enabling grass seeds to germinate and develop. Remember that nutrients might become bound in the soil when the pH level is low. A healthy, drought-resistant lawn that you enjoy can be created by preparing it to be at least 6.0 or higher.

When the soil is ready, scatter two sections of seeds vertically and perpendicularly. Use a broadcast spreader or a drop spreader to ease the burden and provide a more level distribution. If you’re using grass plugs, plant them by making holes along the lawn about 6 inches apart. Sprinkle some water into the soil to moisten the holes. Put one plug into each hole so that it is level with the ground. With a lawn roller half full of water, gently roll the planted area.

Keep in mind to add around 1/4 inch of water to the planted area to keep it moist. To keep the soil equally moist but not saturated, use a sprinkler to apply water once to twice a day. Continue doing this until the grass takes root. Setting a small can there allows you to measure the quantity of water you are administering. To keep the soil moist, add mulch and give it sufficient water each time.

Caring for Growing Grass in Clay Soil 

1. Mowing 

Once your new lawn or turf grass has grown to a minimum height of 4 inches, it is time to decide how often to mow lawn. When turf or lawn grass is shorter than this, the root systems are not strong enough to hold your grass in place against the suction of the lawnmower, and you risk uprooting all the grass seedlings you’ve worked so hard to establish.

It would help if you waited for it. The shade provided by thick grass will keep your soil cool and prevent it from drying out. Some grasses, like Bermuda grass, can be kept short and a little over an inch tall, which can be very beneficial for the health of your soil.

2. Aerating 

There aren’t many opportunities for air pockets to emerge in the soil because clay is naturally dense. Air in the soil also prevents the soil from becoming dangerously damp. Plants absorb oxygen through their roots.

Aerating is the solution. Using mechanical or chemical methods to increase airflow in your soil, this process is known as aeration: In your lawn, mechanical aerators remove plugs of soil, leaving tiny holes that allow air and organic material to reach the deeper layers. Liquid aerators use chemicals to loosen up compacted soil and reduce compaction.

3. Watering 

Remember that clay soil holds much water when watering your fresh grass. Providing too much water at once destroys your fresh seed or drowns the roots. Give lower amounts of water more frequently, and let the water soak completely into the ground. Lightly water your lawn a few times per day until you notice green beginning to appear, then cut back to once daily while adding a little extra water at a time.

4, Fertilizing 

Both before and after seeding is acceptable when it comes to fertilizing your lawn. Once they are buried, all that is needed is to rake the lawn to combine the seed and fertilizer. Because clay soils can store a lot of nutrients, they don’t need as much additional fertilizer as other soil types. In any case, fertilizer can/should be applied all year round to clay-soil plants.

For developing strong root systems in new lawns, a phosphorus-rich solution, such as to keep your lawn’s attractive green color as it ages, use a fertilizer with higher nitrogen content.

Types of Grass to Grow in Clay Soil 

1. Buffalograss 

growing grass on clay soil

Great Plains are the natural home of this grass. To create a clay-based, drought-tolerant lawn, you should consider using buffalograss, scientifically known as Buchloe dactyloides. This grass grows best in the warmer months. Buffalograss offers some advantages and is clay-tolerant, but there are also some disadvantages.

Depending on the cultivar, it enters a dormant state between November and January before beginning to green up between March and April. Buffalograss can thrive best when the temperature stays much over 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Buffalograss has a deep root structure, which helps it endure clay soil like most grasses.

2. Tall Fescue Grass 

Clay soil is ideal for growing tall fescue, commonly known as Festuca arundinacea. Being a cool-season grass, it grows well in both full sun and light shade. Although it was originally grass with a coarse texture, new types are now readily accessible, such as the turf-type or dwarf turf-type tall fescues, which grow shorter, finer blades.

Compared to other cool-season grasses, its roots are longer and so penetrate the soil deeper, making it a good choice for clay soils. Bermuda grass with the scientific name Cynodon dachtylon is the one you should pick if you’ve ever envisioned having an emerald green carpet-type lawn. In public parks and golf courses, it creates visible turf.

3. Pangola Grass 

Also named Digit grass, this strong tufted perennial is highly productive and adapts well to inland regions with little rainfall and harsh weather. Its open turf may easily survive with legumes on various soil types, including sands, scrub, and medium clay soils.

It is suitable for horses since it tolerates drought, fire, and cold well and has low oxalate foliage. Many plant species, including wattles like the White Sally wattle, pravissima, and boormanii, willow-leaved Hakea, Pangola grass, Callistemon, and others, are known to handle clay soils.


We hope you’ve gained some useful knowledge on how to grow grass in clay soil and which kinds of grass work best in this environment. You can work with the land to create a desirable yard with healthy grass, even though clay soil may give some challenges. Don’t allow your clay soil to prevent you from having a lovely grass yard if you have any queries feel free to ask in the comment section.

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