The first thing to do when dealing with problem soils is to gain an understanding of soil fundamentals. If you do not understand the thing you are looking at you will never know where to begin when trying to solve the problem. Most people only understand one part of the general properties of soil – the physical make-up of the substance. Homeowners will be quick to tell you that their soil is clay based, or sandy, or slit – whatever their neighbor told them last, but fail to recognize the other key properties of soil. In addition to the physical structure, there is also the chemical, and biological structure of soil. The chemical side deals with things like pH and the biological side deals with microorganisms. When it comes to Suburban soil it is key to understanding the biological side to begin to fix the problem.
A healthy sample of soil is filled with hundreds of billion of bacteria and miles of fungal hyphae…and this sample is about the size of a cup. All of the organisms present in a healthy soil play a key role is supporting healthy plant growth. However, when dealing with most suburban lawn, the soil, and and as a result the microorganisms within the soil, have been negatively influenced.
The two main types of soil damage in suburban areas are soil compaction and the complete removal of topsoil. As you can imagine the removal of top-soil is more damaging than compaction. Topsoil takes many hundreds, if not thousands of years to develop. While the topsoil was quickly and completely removed from your lawn during your homebuilding process, it will take much longer for it to return. There is only one way to quickly fix the problem of total topsoil removal, and it is quite expensive. While compaction causes severe damage to the soil, all of the natural layers remain in place, the only problem is that they are now compacted together. Roto-tilling will help to fix the compaction problem if soil is not yet laid.
Top-dressing is one of the best ways to start to fix the damage that was caused during construction. Top-dressing adds a new layer of topsoil to your lawn and slowly begins to contribute to the natural organic material that is missing from your lawn. After a few years of aeration and top-dressing your lawn should start to look the way it should – healthy and green. It is important that the top-dressing layer closely resembles that of the layer underneath. If the two layers are not closely related in chemical makeup new problems may arise. Over the years it is important to continuously have your soil tested to make sure that it is not lacking in any chemical or organic way and if it is the option to amend should be considered.