- LAWN CARE SIMPLIFIED – A Safe and Natural Approach
- How to Dethatch a Lawn
- What is Thatch?
- George Davies Turf
- The Low Down on Lawn Blisters
- What causes a waterbed under grass?
- Thatch In Lawns – Getting Rid Of Lawn Thatch
- What is Lawn Thatch
- How to Deal with Lawn Thatch
- Removing Thatch in Lawns
- Getting Rid of Lawn Thatch in Large Areas
- Portland Landscaping Expert Discusses Overcoming Soggy Lawns
- Root Structure: The Biology of Plant Survival in Wet or Dry Soil
- Common Causes of Soggy Portland Lawns
- Landscaping Solutions for Soggy Portland Lawns
- Torrential Rains Cause Giant Bubble to Form on Lawn; Homeowner Tries to Pop It
LAWN CARE SIMPLIFIED – A Safe and Natural Approach
Contrary to what most people believe, thatch is not simply grass clippings that aren’t decomposing. Clippings can add to a thatch problem once the problem exists, but generally, clippings are very beneficial to the lawn when you have a healthy, bioactive soil. They decompose and recycle in as little as two weeks and help provide nutrients and organic matter.
Thatch is actually a matted layer – of roots, stems, blades, runners and clippings – that forms on top of the soil. You might describe it as a lawn that is growing into itself rather than into the soil. If you try to poke your finger through your lawn and into the soil, and find that there is a matted, vegetative barrier of about 1/2 inch thick or more, you have a real thatch condition. I’ve seen thatch as thick as 3 inches.
In the image below you can see how the tightly matted thatch layer is sitting on top of the soil:
If you have real thatch, like above, then there is no way you can remove it with a dethatching machine ( sometimes called a power rake). Such machines can barely penetrate the thatch layer before tearing the grass right out of the soil. In our lawn care business we handle thatch with a 2 pronged approach. First we improve the soil under the thatch with our Aerify PLUS to make it easier and more desirable for the roots to dig deeper. Then we add on specific decomposition microbes using our Biological Dethatcher product. This digests the dead organic matter and turns it into beneficial humus. More on this below.
Thatch can take years to develop on a lawn, but when lawns are sodded and not cared for properly you can get what I would call “instant thatch” . It happens when you lay sod on top of the soil and the sod does not root into the soil quickly or deeply.
This often happens when the soil below the newly installed sod is dry and you don’t water heavily enough to get through the sod to saturate the soil.
The water stays in the sod and that’s where the roots stay too.
In some cases you get “instant thatch” because the soil underneath the sod is a very hard subsoil, and nothing can penetrate it.
The Problems With Thatch
Thatch is undesirable for many reasons, a major one being that the roots of your grass are up in the thatch, and only barely in the soil (see the drawing below). This is not a healthy state and it makes the grass highly susceptible to insects, drought, and winter-kill. If the grass is not anchored in the soil, winter frost or ice could actually lift the thatch right out of the soil. When you have thatch, you have a weaker lawn. It is only a matter of time before something kills it off.
A matted thatch layer will act like a sponge to absorb the rain or your watering. This wet matted layer promotes disease. If the thatch is thick, and the water isn’t heavy enough, it might not even get through the thatch into the soil. The soil eventually dries out, and the grass roots will have to grow into the thatch layer itself-where there is some moisture-instead of into the dry soil. And this will only add more to the thatch layer. And it gets worse from there.
One way to help get water through the thatch layer and into the soil, is to put on some dish soap before watering or before a rain. This will help thin out the water allowing faster penetration. 2 or 3 oz. per 1000 sf should do the trick.
You could also put on a light application of Aerify or Aerify PLUS , before watering. You should test to see how deep your water is penetrating by cutting into the soil with a spade and looking to see if the soil underneath the thatch is moist or not.
The only time when thatch may be desirable is when the grass is growing over tree roots near the surface. In this case, there is hardly any soil so the grass is doing what it can to survive.
Why Thatch Forms
There can be a few reasons for thatch forming on lawns aside from the poor sodding situation as mentioned above. But in general, a thatch condition indicates that there is something wrong with your soil. It is either preventing the grass from rooting (compaction or clay) or it is not bioactive or healthy enough to promote the decomposition of dead organic matter. Your soil should be teeming with microlife instead of “dead”, or sterile. If you’ve been to our website at www.natureslawn.com you know that soil improvement is our main focus.
Soil compaction, clay, and poor pH (too acidic or alkaline), will all discourage bioactivity. And if you’ve used a lot of conventional lawn fertilizers that are high in chlorides or salts, or you’ve used excessive pesticides. you may have killed off a lot of beneficial soil micro-life yourself.
FYI: Lack of earthworms is an indicator of a bad soil. In fact, you’ll rarely see thatch where earthworms are abundant because along with being great soil aerators, they are one of nature’s best thatch digesters.
You can not handle a real thatch condition with a dethatching machine or power rake. You would end up ripping out the lawn. These machines will take care of surface issues like dead or matted grass, clippings and debris – and you can have bushels of that stuff with some grass types. But as far as getting out the real thatch, the interwoven mat, it would barely scratch the surface of it.
The real solution to thatch, and the best way to prevent it, is to improve your soil so it is aerated and bioactive enough to get the thatch to decompose. When you do this, the thatch – which is part Organic Matter, will gradually begin to break down from the bottom (where it is in contact with the soil) up. It will turn into rich, dark humus. It can take a couple of years to fully break up the thatch, but it will happen.
Here are some other factors and tips to help you get rid of thatch through decomposition:
- You need to keep the soil moist underneath the thatch layer. When it dries out, decomposition ceases. Less frequent, heavy waterings are best. If you water too often and keep the whole thatch layer moist all the time, you are asking for trouble with fungus. Also, you want to encourage the roots to go down into the soil for water and not stay in a wet thatch layer.
Collect your clippings until the thatch problem is handled. They will only add to the thatch.
Test the pH and add Lime as needed. If your soil is Acidic it could dramatically slow down or even prevent thatch decomposition. Over-liming will also cause the same problems.
Increase thatch degrading bioactivity. You can do this by improving your soil quality with compost or simple compost teas (soak compost in a bucket of water for a day and spray the liquid over the lawn). You can treat the thatch with Biological Dethatcher. It contains specific microbes and enzymes designed to generate and accelerate thatch decomposition.
Improve soil aeration. Thatch-degrading microbes, and most beneficial soil microbes need air to survive. Compacted or heavy clay soils suppress the micro-life in the soil. Improving aeration is a must if you want to increase the soil bioactivity. Visit our website for more information on better ways to increase aeration.
- Your lawn will need regular fertilizing because soil microorganisms need nitrogen to decompose thatch. You want to avoid any fertilizers that contain muriate of potash (potassium chloride) because chlorides can be harmful to soil life. Straight organic granular fertilizers may not be the best choice here because unless they are water soluble, they will sit on top of the thatch layer and be very slow to break down and release their nutrients. After all, a lot of the thatch is already organic matter that isn’t breaking down fast enough.
- Liquid fertilizers may be the best idea when thatch exists. They will go right through to the soil when watered in, and won’t get stuck in the thatch Monthly or twice monthly applications of a salt and chlorine free liquid fertilizer will provide more available nitrogen and therefore will promote faster thatch decomposition. All-In-One for LAWNS is a liquid fertilizer that also contains our Biological Dethatcher along with some Aerify PLUS.
written by Stuart Franklin – Author of
Building A Healthy Lawn: A Safe and Natural Approach and President of Nature’s Lawn and Garden.
Visit our website at Nature’s Lawn & Garden, Inc
How to Dethatch a Lawn
What is Thatch?
Thatch is a layer of living and dead stems, roots and crowns that develop between the green vegetation and the soil surface. A thatch layer greater than one inch acts as a barrier to water, nutrients and air reaching the soil and should be removed to ensure a healthy lawn. Learn how to reinvigorate a lawn by removing the thatch.
Step 1: Determine if the Lawn Needs Dethatching
If water runs off without penetrating the grass, then it may be time to dethatch the lawn. Thatch is a thin layer of organic debris that forms between the leaf blades and roots. Examine your grass for an underlying layer of thatch. It will look like a matting of old, grayish-brown grass stems that have grown together.
A thin layer of thatch (½ inch or less) provides insulation against temperature extremes and fluctuations in soil moisture. However, if your lawn has more than one inch layer of thatch above the soil surface, the lawn needs to be dethatched.
Primary causes of thatch are over watering, over fertilizing and mowing too high. To help prevent thatch from forming, use a mulching mower.
Step 2: Dethatch the Lawn
For northern grass the best time to dethatch your entire lawn is in late summer to early fall when the grass is actively growing. For southern grasses, dethatch in late spring.
In early spring, and for small areas, use a thatching rake, which is a sharp-tined rake that rips the thatch out of the lawn. Leaf rakes or hard rakes can be used but may not work as well. Rake the grass, digging deep to penetrate the thatch and loosen it apart. In early spring removing thatch by raking is best to prevent damaging new growth.
When dethatching your entire lawn use a power dethatcher over the lawn in a pattern that covers the grass only once. Flag irrigation heads and other hidden objects in the lawn to prevent damage. When the task is finished, the lawn will look terrible, but don’t panic. It’s supposed to look that way.
You can rent a power dethatcher from most garden centers. Enlist the help of a couple of friends and a truck when picking up the equipment, it will be heavy and awkward. Read the operator’s manual carefully prior to use.
Step 3: Clean-up and Water
Rake up the debris with a leaf rake and place it in the compost pile and water the lawn.
Step 4: Aerate, Overseed, Fertilize
After dethatching your lawn it is a great time to aerate your lawn. After aerating, overseed and fertilize with Milorganite. It should take about 3-4 weeks for the lawn to recover and show signs of new growth.
George Davies Turf
The Low Down on Lawn Blisters
Posted on 03.11.2017
You may have seen a viral news story a few weeks ago about a man in Pennsylvania called James Callender, who encountered several ‘bubbles’ of trapped water within his lawn – these are known as ‘Lawn Blisters’. Whilst it is somewhat rare to have domestic lawn blisters as extreme as James, we thought it would be an interesting situation to explore, answering how they appear in the first place and how you would go about dealing with them.
SO WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Lawn blisters occur when a pocket of trapped water forms below the grass surface, often between the grass and a layer of plastic sheeting that has been laid below the turf. Plastic sheeting is used where the soil in the area is particularly bad – good soil is scattered onto the plastic liner, allowing you to lay and grow good, healthy turf. There can then be several reasons as to why lawn blisters develop, most commonly being an influx of water into the ground. In James’ case, extremely heavy rain and the accumulated rainwater created a ‘bubble’ beneath the surface. Another common cause is a burst water pipe below the surface and even sometimes a build-up of natural gas. There has also been reports of lawn blisters having been created in Siberia as a result of water being trapped between the surface and the ‘permafrost’ that is found beneath it – obviously this would only be the cause in polar regions.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
As you can see in the footage, James uses a gardening tool to essentially hack holes across his lawn, tearing the turf and causing pools of water to form on the surface. Whilst this drained the blisters, James significantly damaged his lawn in the process. Small lawn tears can be fairly easily repaired, but it would be much better for your lawn to use one point for drainage and then just have one area of damage to repair at the end. Where possible it would be ideal to try and collect as much of the drained water as you can so that your lawn doesn’t become sodden. You should also try to drain any of the excess surface water too. Obviously, it’s important to determine the root cause before taking action – for example, if the problem is a damaged water pipe then that should be fixed too in order to protect your lawn best.
HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT THIS WILL HAPPEN TO ME?
It’s tough to answer this one because burst water pipes can happen whenever, wherever. As I said, they aren’t everyday occurrences in domestic gardens, especially in the UK, as we don’t experience extended or extreme adverse weather conditions. Lawn blisters are most commonly found on golf courses – Greywolf Golf Course, Canada reported a lawn blister that was 18 inches high at its peak, caused by a broken pipe below the fairway. Although lawn blisters can develop in any grassy area at any time, they are really quite rare across the UK, with little reports of such cases as extreme as James’.
You can watch the full footage of James here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8eQLavRaXM
During an unusually hot summer this year, researchers in Siberia stumbled upon fifteen of these oddly bouncy patches of grass. They suspected, according to the Siberian Times, methane bubbling up from melting permafrost—and subsequent stories were quick to connect it to climate change. But permafrost experts say it’s more likely a pool of water than a methane bubble.
“I’ve seen this before,” said Kevin Schaefer when I asked him to watch the video. “It’s a mat of vegetation sitting on top of water.” Schaefer, who is a permafrost researcher at the US National Snow and Ice Research Center, said he’s encountered patches of ground just like this up in Barrow, Alaska. “We were doing some surveying and all of a sudden we were bouncing like on a water bed.”
In fact, these pools of water exist because of unique ground conditions in the Arctic. During the summer, the top layers of the ground melt, but the frozen permafrost underneath remains, well, permanent and impenetrable. “It acts like a bucket and fills up with water. It’s generally very wet,” says Schaefer. Pools of water might build up under what looks like solid ground. “It’s common,” says Vladimir Romanovsky, a geophysicist at University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The photos published in the Siberian Times do show water seeping out of the ground after researchers punctured it. The team also found high levels of carbon dioxide and methane gas, which is in fact exactly what you’d expect. When the ground melts in Siberia, the dead grass and other organic matter in the ground begins to decay. Microbes that eat this stuff turn it into carbon dioxide (if oxygen is present) or methane (if no oxygen is present, as when covered in water).
Now Siberia, methane, and climate change have been in the news before—thanks to dramatic photos showing new craters suddenly appearing in the tundra. In that case, researchers now suspect warming temperatures had melted enough ice to allow big pockets of methane to escape. These pockets of methane, though, came from microbes that lived millions of years ago, stored in permafrost until now. The smaller amounts of methane from the water pools came from recent microbes. This phenomenon is smaller in scale, both geologically and chronologically.
Climate change may still play a role. “If it’s unusual for that particular place,” says Romanovsky, “it is an indication that the summer thaw is deeper.” And that would be worrying because permafrost locks up a lot of carbon. If the Earth gets warm enough from fossil fuel emissions, it’ll start melting permafrost, which ordinarily preserves dead matter like a giant refrigerator. Once microbes get to the unfrozen dead matter, they emit carbon dioxide and methane, making climate change even more severe. It’s a runaway effect.
If you, like me, felt concerned about this man stomping all over a seething bubble of methane, you can rest easy knowing it’s probably just water. If you felt concerned about climate change, please do continue to worry.
What causes a waterbed under grass?
Is there a foam or bubbles sitting on the top of your lawn? When this happens, it’s called a waterbed and no, I’m not talking about the cool mattress from the ‘90s.
A waterbed happens on your lawn when the ground is already fully saturated and cannot hold any more water. If any more water is added, water seeps through the sod which can cause the mixture to float upwards and sit on the top of your grass or even create a bubble underneath.
All this extra water creates a soggy waterbed feeling, especially when you walk or push on your grass and hear the dreaded sloshing sound.
This waterbed effect can be caused naturally by too much rain, but it can also happen if you tend to accidentally overwater your grass. Another likely cause of a waterbed occurring could be a leak or break in your underground irrigation system.
Waterbeds are also complicated and require a solution that addresses the problem that begins at the roots of the grass. Adding more sod or grass will help soak up some of the excess water but is not a long-term solution. The root of the problem with waterbeds is that there is too much water sitting below the surface of the grass.
A great solution to keep waterbeds from reoccurring is to consider artificial grass installed by a professional. With this option, all your current problematic grass can be completely removed as well as the soggy sod underneath before the new artificial turf is installed.
A professional crew can then properly prepare the land before installing your new turf to prevent any future waterbeds. Artificial turf also requires less maintenance than natural grass and can eliminate extra water being used. If you’re in need of a free quote from a professional, contact us here.
Thatch In Lawns – Getting Rid Of Lawn Thatch
There is nothing like the feel of fresh, green grass between bare toes, but the sensory feeling is transformed to one of puzzlement when the lawn is spongy. Spongy sod is a result of excess thatch in lawns. Getting rid of lawn thatch takes several steps and a resolute gardener. Learn how to deal with lawn thatch so you don’t have to replace your landscape grass to remove the spongy lawn.
What is Lawn Thatch
You must know your enemy to win the battle, so what is lawn thatch? Spongy lawns are the result of excess buildup of old and dead grass material. Some types of grass don’t produce thatch but others with thick stolens will trap their own leaves and stems.
Overly thick thatch not only makes the lawn spongy but it can interfere with the plant’s ability to gather air, water and fertilizer. The roots are forced to grow on top of the thatch and the sponginess increases. Getting rid of lawn thatch increases the health and texture of the grass.
How to Deal with Lawn Thatch
Thatch in lawns is most common in acidic and compact soil. The spongy lawn is a result of many factors such as excess nitrogen, disease and pest problems, as well as improper mowing. Correct cultural practices will help reduce the amount of thatch that forms.
You can also choose a grass variety that is less prone to thatch formation. Grasses that grow slowly, such as tall fescue, zoysia grass and perennial ryegrass, produce relatively little thatch.
Dethatch your lawn mechanically in late summer or early fall when your lawn has slowed down its growth for the season.
Removing Thatch in Lawns
A good old-fashioned rake is one of the best ways to reduce the thatch in the grass. A little thatch is not harmful but anything over one inch is damaging to the sod. Really thick thatch requires a dethatching rake, which is larger and has sharp tines. These cut and grab the thatch to pull it out of the layer of sod. Rake the lawn thoroughly after dethatching.
In about one week, apply one pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn and water in completely. Rake the lawn annually at the end of the season for cool season grasses but in spring for warm season grasses.
Getting Rid of Lawn Thatch in Large Areas
For larger areas, it is a good idea to rent a powered dethatcher. You should do some research before you use a machine as incorrect use can injure the lawn. You can also rent a vertical mower, which operates much like a gas-powered lawn mower.
If thatch is excessively thick, the lawn will be damaged by dethatching. In such cases, you will need to top dress the area and reseed.
Portland Landscaping Expert Discusses Overcoming Soggy Lawns
Sodden lawns are not uncommon in Portland landscaping. Portland’s geology features layers of clay and undulating hills—two problematic features for lawn lovers. Clay-laden soil retains water; it creates a dense top layer (a “hardpan”), which is difficult to break through when planting new shrubs and trees. And Portland’s hilly topography naturally creates dells where water gathers. The Portland landscape dooms many lawns to suffer sogginess.
Perpetually drenched lawns are unlikely to thrive, as grass roots rot in too-wet environments. Over time, the desired turf grass may lose ground to moss and less desirable foreign grasses that are better suited to moisture. Soggy lawns tend to pull down property value, as uneven grass decreases curb appeal. And there are day-to-day hassles of a soggy lawn—more mud tracked in by pets and kids, for one thing. What is the point of having a lawn if you can’t enjoy it due to lingering puddles? But this enjoyment factor is nothing compared to the worst possibility of all—damage to your home’s siding or moisture under your house due to excessive standing water.
As Portland landscapers, we’ve dried out many soggy lawns. In this white paper, we explore the Portland soggy lawn problem. To begin, we discuss the science behind how soil moisture levels impact plants (including lawn grasses). Next, we list common causes behind soaked turfs. Finally, we provide answers for Portlanders whose lawns are just too wet. With expertise and effort, it is possible to heal a lawn struggling under excess dampness.
Root Structure: The Biology of Plant Survival in Wet or Dry Soil
A continually soaked yard suffocates lawn roots, leading to rot. Just like humans, plants cannot survive without air. If a patch of land is constantly wet, water fills the crevices within soil, and the roots cannot access oxygen. Too-wet conditions limit plant growth. Those species that do survive in a soggy setting are more susceptible to disease.
With that said, certain plants have evolved to flourish in wet conditions. Mangrove trees, for instance, have developed special above-water structures (pneumatophores) that allow them to get enough oxygen even when their roots are submerged. On the other hand, some inland species are generalists that can grow almost anywhere. The red maple is a good example. It thrives across the Northeast because it adapts its root structure to surrounding circumstances. In wet areas, red maples send out more lateral roots to absorb surface water. The same species will grow more taproots to access deep water in dry conditions.
In the northern states, we rely on a few species of cool season turfgrasses for lawns. These grasses have primary and secondary root systems. The primary roots (AKA seminal roots) are adapted to absorb water and nutrients as the grass is established; later on, secondary roots (AKA adventitious roots) take over the majority of absorption. Grass roots grow to a depth of two to six inches; they cannot grow deep taproots to absorb water as a red maple can. Nor do grasses have adaptations to allow them to survive excess moisture; if the ground is waterlogged for long periods, grass will begin to die as its roots suffocate.
Now that we have a biological perspective on why wet lawns fail, let’s take a look at the reasons why a yard becomes be soggy.
Common Causes of Soggy Portland Lawns
Topsoil Removal. Shoddy contractors may fail to consider soil amendment before installing turf. They may do little beyond laying sod on hard compacted soil and gravel left when the house was built. It is very common for the site prep excavator to strip the layer of top soil off the building site to get a good base for the house foundation, driveways, and paths. Why is this problematic? Because without further aeration and preparation, lawn roots will have a very hard time extending through clay-heavy hardpan.
Lack of Water Absorption. In addition to restricting drainage, a crusty hardpan makes it difficult for lawn roots to absorb water. The water will tend to pool or quickly run off, resulting in shallow lawn roots that will quickly dry out and die in the summer heat. Without building up the soil in some way, Portland lawns may not be able to absorb enough water for healthy growth.
Problematic Slopes. Real estate in this town varies widely. Flatter areas—such as the Foster-Powell neighborhood—may sustain stronger grass growth, as drainage is reliable. However, drainage problems are common in the West Hills; there, rolling knolls create pockets where water pools. If you’re at the bottom of a hill, neighboring slopes direct water to your yard. When water has nowhere to go, a lingering pool is inevitable.
Natural Springs and High Water Tables. Certain Portland communities have natural springs, where water bubbles up from the earth. The West Linn area—particularly Hidden Springs—suffers from this groundwater issue. If water seeps up into your yard, it may be too wet for lawn growth.
Soil Compaction. Healthy soil has plenty of tiny cavities where water and nutrients can flow. This is referred to as soil aggregation. Foot traffic presses down on soil, crushing the tiny soil tunnels and limiting plant growth. As such, even yards with decent soil can face difficulty growing a lush lawn due to compaction from pets, kids, machinery, and general perambulation.
Too Little Sunlight. Many grasses require consistent sunlight to thrive. If grass isn’t receiving enough light, it creates long, stringy stems and leaves as it endeavors to absorb as much light as possible. This process requires lots of carbohydrates and, as the grass shunts more energy to carbohydrate production, its overall health often suffers. Too little sunlight has the additional effect of minimizing evaporation, so that wet areas stay wet longer. The biggest contributor to shady lawns is tree cover.
Roof runoff. A roof sheds massive amounts of water in Portland’s downpours. If all roof water is directed into your lawn, you will likely see pooling. Gutters and poorly designed or clogged French drains can direct roof runoff onto a lawn, flooding the area and drowning roots.
Uneven grading. Water runs downhill—even very shallow slopes and minor elevation changes can direct water flow. An uneven lawn will have low spots where water will inevitably collect. This makes it difficult to grow a consistent lawn, as different depths will create different growing conditions. Even grading is important for lawn health.
Poorly designed landscaping. Inexperienced landscapers may not appreciate the importance of drainage in Portland yards. They may unwittingly direct water to the lawn, strangling its growth.
Understanding the cause of any problem is half the battle in solving it. Now let’s take a look at how to fix a soggy lawn.
Landscaping Solutions for Soggy Portland Lawns
1. Locate the Water Source. Evaluate where the water is coming from and how to mitigate it. Observation is an important step in solving lawn drainage problems. Once you understand the water’s flow, you can move on to redirecting it. Sometimes it is very difficult to determine the source of the water. A geotechnical engineer can be very helpful in identifying the water source that is impacting your property.
2. Create a Path for Drainage. This step will depend on where the water is pooling. If it is pooling in the middle, you will need some method of pushing water to the lawn’s periphery. For instance, you could add soil to the center. On the other hand, if the water pools only on one side of the property, a long French drain leading to a rain garden would likely work well.
Scan your yard during a rainstorm and ask yourself, where can the water go? Does the water require a retained bed where it can collect and drain? Or will a French drain best draw away water to a good drainage area? For large stretches of lawn, it is often best to install a multi-flow system, essentially multiple French drains dug deeper into the earth. Or you may choose to add a dry creek bed to gather and drain water.
One thing to keep in mind is that French drains are not permanent. Eventually, they become clogged with sediment and will need to be redone.
3. Prepare the Soil. If your too-wet lawn is nearly bald, it may be best to till it and start over by amending the soil. Amending soil can greatly improve drainage by offsetting Portland’s clay-heavy soils. Gravel, sand or a mixture of both can open soil spaces and allow better drainage. Compost is another good addition to lawn soil; it helps soil retain nutrients. Overall, the goal is to prevent the formation of a surface hardpan by layering in materials that water can more easily move through.
It’s important to note that each site will have its own unique ideal soil formula. Additionally, you will need to adjust the tilling depth according to location.
4. Consider the Slope. Rainfall alone will rarely cause flooding; however, if your home is at the bottom of a hill, your neighbor’s yard may deposit a torrent to your door. In that case, it may be necessary to build a retaining wall to prevent further erosion and properly drain water away from your home.
5. Aerate. Sod growing over dense soil can benefit from aeration. Aeration refers to the process of using mechanized equipment to either puncture the soil with spikes (spike aeration) or remove approximately 1″ by 2″ cores of soil from the ground (core aeration). This creates pathways where water can flow down to roots. Aeration may be overlooked when trying to restore a lawn, but it is often vital for grass health. Soil aeration may be enough to reduce compaction and prevent puddling in minor cases.
Really, it is best to aerate every lawn every two or three years. In this time, lawns grow a thick layer of roots, which sheds water like roof thatching. This is problematic for the same reason as clay; it prevents water and nutrients from reaching down throughout the root zone. Moreover, heavy thatching promotes pest growth.
6. Add a Rain Garden. Rain gardens are landscaping features designed to accept, retain, and slowly drain water. Multi-flow drainage systems, installed under bigger lawns, often feature rain gardens in lawn valleys. By taking out a soggy, problematic lawn and adding a rain garden, you create a perfect place for water to drain. There are many additional reasons to add rain gardens; for one thing, they help purify run-off water.
7. Select Seed and Sod Carefully. Most new sod varieties are sun mix, which if installed in a sunny area will do quite well. However, if your area is shady, the sod will thin out very quickly leaving the area very muddy when it rains. On the other hand, fine fescue prefers shade but requires well-drained soil. When laying a new lawn or reseeding an old one, it’s crucial to select a grass mixture that will do well where you place it. Less experienced landscapers may sow a sun sod mix where a shade mix should go. A mixture of fescue and ryegrass tends to do well in shady Portland areas. Ryegrass is well suited to wet spots; it can also withstand foot traffic.
8. Opt for synthetic turf or hardscaping instead. The unfortunate truth is that some yards are unlikely to support lawn growth. If you simply MUST have a lawn, but it won’t grow where you want it, synthetic turf is a good option. While yesterday’s synthetic turf was more like carpet, today’s synthetics are more advanced. There are two types of turf: nylon and poly. Nylon turf is better for pets because it’s easy to clean, and it won’t absorb smells. On the other hand, poly turf is more natural looking.
Adding a patio, path, or other hardscaping solution is another route. Why struggle to keep a lawn going when you could create an oasis with a fire pit and/or permeable patio? Shifting away from a lawn may allow you to create more usable space for year-round outdoor living.
Our Portland landscaping company can provide a full array of lawn services, from soil testing to design to implementation. Our Portland lawn experts are happy to visit your home and deliver a lawn assessment, complete with recommended solutions for any turf problems. We can go on to carry out any service that many be required—from lawn aeration to designing and digging dry wells. Our expert lawn technicians know how to amend clay-heavy soil to improve growth. And our landscape engineers can design retaining walls, French drains, and even multi-flow systems for draining large expanses. Call us today about any lawn concerns you may have.
About the Author: Steve Stewart is the Owner/President of Landscape East & West, award-winning Portland landscaping professionals. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the company. Landscape East & West is a leader in the Portland Metropolitan area in creating unique landscape designs and executing expert construction and maintenance with care and pride.
About Landscape East & West: Landscape East & West is a full service Portland landscaping company offering residential landscaping services and full maintenance, irrigation (sprinkler installation, backflow testing, etc.), pruning services, and much more. We also offer a host of design and build services. We invite you to see our award-winning work online. View outdoor kitchens, retaining walls, patios, fire pits and fireplaces, deck and fence designs, garden designs and much more. We are committed to excellence in serving our landscaping customers with outstanding design, implementation and ongoing care that continues to win us awards and happy clients. We serve both individuals and home owners associations.
Torrential Rains Cause Giant Bubble to Form on Lawn; Homeowner Tries to Pop It
How many people love popping bubble wrap? That’s not rhetorical. It’s almost universally loved, probably for its effects on calming a person down. So, it’s maybe safe to say that when a lawn bubble popped up in one family’s backyard, the feeling of relief would wash over them like a cool, spring rain when they finally got rid of it.
James Callender and his family were the recipients of torrential rains in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. Once the rains had passed and the sun came out, they noticed something in their yard that hadn’t been there before.
“I’ve never seen this before in all my life,” said Callender in his now viral video. “Apparently it’s rained so much it’s created a large water bubble in our yard.”
Callender uses a spike to poke holes into the water bubble to relieve the pressure, but just the tiniest stream begins to pour out. Callender proceeds to step onto the lawn bubble, but still just the tiniest trickle escapes. He then walks around the sides and pokes several more holes into the weird anomaly. He steps back on the bubble like he’s standing on a waterbed, but still barely any water comes out. While atop the lawn bubble, Callender stabs it several more times in one spot until finally it bursts.
Source: Rumble | Storyful
Take a look at the video below. It’s pretty satisfying watching it finally spring a big leak. Have you ever seen anything like this before? SHARE the Callender’s fun family video with your friends!
Now … where’s that bubble wrap?
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