Trying for grass, rototill or no?


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Alright, so I have a yard with pretty heavy clay soil all in the center portion. The edges seem to have less clay soil.

I have used trugreen who promised grass and failed and then refused any money back, which backtrack on their lawn guarantee, so yeah I hate trugreen, they're awful. They did next to nothing.

I also spread top soil and sand in the center portion and have spread gypsum at various times. I have rotoilled after this, and rototilled it all previously without spreading anything. I have fertilized and watered appropriately and have still only grew some grass on the edges still, none in the center.
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I feel I need to add more topsoil to the yard in much larger amounts than I previously did. I plan to get 10-12 yards dumped in.

My main question, should I spread this topsoil around and then rototill the yard once more, then reseed, feet, water etc.

OR should I just spread the topsoil around, but not rototill the yard and just spread seed into the spread topsoil?

I'm in Woonsocket, RI, springs just about getting started here.
 
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Without soil testing, it's similar taking the car to a mechanic and the mechanic tries different parts until he finds something that solves the problem while you pay all parts and labor, and also sometimes that solution is only temporary because it was all guesswork.
 
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So...clay, eh? Or silty muck? Its important, due to mass for one thing. Clay can outweigh other soil by 100%. That changes the quantity of amendments. And pH? 5.5 to 6pH is on a lot of your soil maps, but you are on about gypsum which has sulfur, which counterbalances to some degree the liming effect of the calcium in the gypsum. And sand on clay? A sprinkle will not do. You will make concrete as the clay settles between the sand particles. Soil test using a mason jar and tbsp of soap. Fill with soil, top off with water, soap then lid on and shake. If it never settles its clay, which is even finer than silt which will settle. You are in a drainage basin I think that goes to Providence then to sea. The basin has one soil type mainly but up and to the left is another type. I would not use topsoil. Sugar and amino acids and humic are better for soil building. If you want to do better, import compost. The organic content is pretty low generally in soil up there. Lots of glacial history. Which means no plants leaving carbon save really old ones that make the fossilized organic matter called coal that seems common in RI. And how no grass in the middle? Are you suffocating the seed via burial with a tiller? Do you have no sun?
 
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So...clay, eh? Or silty muck? Its important, due to mass for one thing. Clay can outweigh other soil by 100%. That changes the quantity of amendments. And pH? 5.5 to 6pH is on a lot of your soil maps, but you are on about gypsum which has sulfur, which counterbalances to some degree the liming effect of the calcium in the gypsum. And sand on clay? A sprinkle will not do. You will make concrete as the clay settles between the sand particles. Soil test using a mason jar and tbsp of soap. Fill with soil, top off with water, soap then lid on and shake. If it never settles its clay, which is even finer than silt which will settle. You are in a drainage basin I think that goes to Providence then to sea. The basin has one soil type mainly but up and to the left is another type. I would not use topsoil. Sugar and amino acids and humic are better for soil building. If you want to do better, import compost. The organic content is pretty low generally in soil up there. Lots of glacial history. Which means no plants leaving carbon save really old ones that make the fossilized organic matter called coal that seems common in RI. And how no grass in the middle? Are you suffocating the seed via burial with a tiller? Do you have no sun?

Hey, I did the mason jar test and attached a picture, the picture is about 20 hours of it settling. Looks like maybe 30% silt, 60% sand and 10% clay, but I'm having a hard time seeing split between sand and silt. Also did a pH and got around 6.5, so the pH is fine I believe. This is from 2-3 inches down In the middle of my yard (where the grass never grows).

*mason test I did with just filtered water, no soap. And it's still somewhat cloudy, so maybe more clay than 10%....?

Based on this do you still think compost would be the best thing to add in?

How many inches worth once spread around? And shod it be tilled into soil or left on the top then seeded?

Thanks for the time
 

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Hey, I did the mason jar test and attached a picture, the picture is about 20 hours of it settling. Looks like maybe 30% silt, 60% sand and 10% clay, but I'm having a hard time seeing split between sand and silt. Also did a pH and got around 6.5, so the pH is fine I believe. This is from 2-3 inches down In the middle of my yard (where the grass never grows).

*mason test I did with just filtered water, no soap. And it's still somewhat cloudy, so maybe more clay than 10%....?

Based on this do you still think compost would be the best thing to add in?

How many inches worth once spread around? And shod it be tilled into soil or left on the top then seeded?

Thanks for the time
Also, there's some shade, but it grows in the shader spot, not the spot the gets more sun. I also spread the seed around after tilling and leveling before, didn't bury the seed.
 
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Struggling with a lawn rehab myself this year myself.
I have similar soil conditions/location
A little north SE Mass
I would get a soil test. I knew my soil was lacking but did not realize how much.
Anyway-
If you did not get any grass growing by now it might be a tad late? Im no expert on that. Although they are talking first frost this weekend? Not a hard frost but the clock is ticking.
What I would do that worked well for me in certain parts of my sandy yard.
I aerated and did it heavily 90 degree passes and even 45 degree. Not as aggressive as tilling. I then spread about 2” of compost and raked it to fill the aerated holes. I kept a small amount of the compost for later
When the weather started to cool and the rains came 2nd week of sept I broad casted some Lesco seed better suited for my full sun area with no irrigation and little of the way of watering beyond what nature brings.
After broad casting I spread a skim coat of the leftover compost over the seeds.
I did a soil test and I was low on PH
5.2 I have added the recommended lime pellets, was also low on Nitrogen which surprised me since I have been applying N heavy fertilizer all year? So maybe my sandy soil was just not holding the Nutrients.
Im happy with the results so far and eager to take another soil sample in the spring/early summer to see what I have done with the changes and what needs to be done.
This late in the season might want to hydroseed with a fast germinating Rye grass?
 
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I get a super high germination rate when I cover with black kow compost. If I use the seeder aerator (ninja stars) then its best to sweep into the holes or have it watered in by rain. If I use the core aerator it is a bit more spread out. When I get into the st aug and monkey grass I use a core plugger.
 
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Its been a bit of a struggle but my lawn is coming along. I also found a good deal on a Honda lawn mower. Its so much nicer than my ild cheap craftsman
 

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It has the two blade system?
Yes 2 blades seems to cut more even than my old mower. Mulched ip leaves well enough. I would have to do a side by side test.
It was hard to tell how well it mulched the grass, i have been cutting my lawn at a higher blade level and more often all season. I try to mow at 1/2” - 3/4” over cut length.
The pine needles laugh at this mower as they do with everything!
 
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Yes 2 blades seems to cut more even than my old mower. Mulched ip leaves well enough. I would have to do a side by side test.
It was hard to tell how well it mulched the grass, i have been cutting my lawn at a higher blade level and more often all season. I try to mow at 1/2” - 3/4” over cut length.
The pine needles laugh at this mower as they do with everything!
I have sharpened that machine but never owned one. Good for leaves in the fall. The only downside to mulching is how much more the giblets spread weeds. Of course only the most aggressive weeds spread with pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more they fall down into the lawn and find purchase. Larger pieces lay atop the lawn and dessicate, becoming non viable, and that decreases the need for weed control. My neighbors all side discharge. I have mulched for years. Guess who has the most weeds? I am sorry, I misspoke. Guess who has the prettiest "tapestry" lawn?
 
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I have been mulching for the 20 years I have been here. The worst weed out break I had was from soil brought in a few years ago to fill some “sink” holes.
 
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