Sunday, August 26, 2012

Compaction for the Sake of Grass?

One of my favorite calls is from a contractor, in this case a very large landscape company, that has been busted by the city for failing to do any tree protection.

So our assignment is to decompact areas leveled for the sake of sod installation.  Our medium is compacted red clay.  If you have used an AirKife or Airspade in this scenario then you know attacking glazed clay is futile.  I go about it by finding an area where I can penetrate the soil as close to the severe compaction as possible.  Once deep in the soil,  I angle the air tool under the glazed area.of compaction.  By repeating these steps around the area, it eventually begins to break up in to large peds.

In the past I would try to break up peds into finer soil, but after having gone to Jim Urban's 'Up by Roots,' I now try to preserve peds.  These peds are an essential part of soil structure, especially in heavy clay soils.  Of course, I then mix in composted organic material to help maintain soil structure and improve nutrient holding and water holding capacity.

An argument may by made that August is not the best time to be using an AirKnife in such a large area, as it may dessicate fine roots.  In the face of progress, there are only so many options.