Opinions re spreading sand on wet mushy lawns

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by janetdoyle, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    With a mushy lawn that is very wet right now, our landscaper is advising spreading vast quantities of sand in some areas. I have read quite a few online articles regarding not doing this, but rather spreading a compost top dressing to improve the soil [not all of it is low-lying, but some is]. This is on Vancouver Island. I am not convinced of this remedy and since his background is in golf course care I wanted some other opinions. A previous landscaper, upon being consulted, said no, suggested using the compost spread as a top dressing [when the ground dries]. Opinions?
     
  2. ryansenechal

    ryansenechal Active Member

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    With a significant amount of rainfall, a mushy lawn is the norm without engineered drainage in place.

    Attacking a poorly draining area is quite a process: providing means to physically evacuate water via pipes/catch basins/ditches and/or elevation and/or an engineered growing medium. Compaction management is the minimum required input to see incremental benefit.

    Sampling is the name of the game before making any decisions be it sand or high organic matter mixes. Compost has such small particle sizes that it either creates further pore space issues (perching water at the surface) or becomes mobile in the standing water, and blows away when it dries. On the course, if an incremental profile change was required to address localized drainage or nutrient/water availability problems, we would make adjustments to the profile by utilizing an aeration before a top dress and drag mat to trap materials.
     
  3. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi, just to go over this -- we don't intend to soak up anything with mats, this sand spreading [and aeration] was a treatment the landscaper recommended and he did recommend a soil sample first. However, with this type of soil we know there is quite a lot of clay, but he thinks there is also a lot of fine soft soil there too which needs the addition of sand, and he is suggesting "round sand" not sharp sand... we aren't intending to create and maintain a "perfect" lawn, as we have other shrubs and trees to care for too, and a limited budget. We do have one so-called curtain drain in an area similar to what you recommend, a trench filled with stones which contains a drainage pipe leading into the perimeter drains of one building. You mentioned above the "top dressing" -- what with? Our previous landscaper top dressed with compost in one area and it did help a lot, that flat place was prone to developing a pond and now it doesn't. We won't re-engineer [i.e., dig and drain] anything, as the wet places are not in the main concourse of the strata landscaping, but one area is an out-of-the-way side lawn area, can be quite a pretty one, for a unit and got badly mushed-up with a staffer's lawn tractor and we don't want to repeat that. It already has the curtain drain previously mentioned... would spreading round sand here do any harm, or do any good? Our landscaper also says it is much easier to use than compost, for him, naturally. However, other sources on the Web are very much against using sand and recommend a compost top-dressing, so could you give me your thoughts again on this in layman's language?
     
  4. Tree Nut

    Tree Nut Active Member

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    Sounds like your problem is poor draining low spots. My advice would be to bring in top soil and put a crown in the center of the lawn higher than the soil on the perimeter. This will allow proper drainage. You will be burying your existing lawn in places, but that is no big deal. Just reseed the top soil, or if you're in a bigger hurry, lay down rolls of lawn turf.
     
  5. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    All I really wanted was an opinion on this spreading of sand business, which I am very doubtful about. We don't need to raise the lawn in hillocks because these wet areas are really minimal compared to the overall land area we have and they tend to be in low places so that doing that would cause weird changes in our entire terrain and be too costly to re-engineer. I am just asking about the sand spread as a top dressing. I believe I asked it previously here but cannot find the entry now.
     
  6. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    On it's own, the sand won't accomplish anything. It is likely your landscaper, having (as you mentioned) a background in golf course maintenance, is citing a common technique used on courses whereby sand is used to build up poorly drained areas on fairways. Critically, this is always done in conjunction with subsurface drainage systems; without such drainage (mentioned by 'ryansenechal' above), there is no benefit--and likely increased drawbacks--to using sand alone.
     
  7. ryansenechal

    ryansenechal Active Member

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    Well then, my opinion is that spreading of sand on your turf will deliver little to no benefit for your mushy situation.

     
  8. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Thank you, this response is now clear. Much appreciation to all.
     

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