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Answers to common questions

What you should consider before starting a new lawn:

Soil Depth

Most landscape architects recommend 6 inches of compacted good quality organic topsoil. Some home owners use less than 6 inches because of costs. We recommend not less than 4 inches compacted to ensure there is sufficient depth to provide for healthy plants.

Compaction

Topsoil will compact between 10% and 15% and garden soil 15% to 20% so consideration should be given to this when ordering. Too little soil depth will result in insufficient depth and an unhealthy lawn.

Topsoil specifications

Landscape architects have specifications for the manufacture of topsoil. Sand in various gradations is the base product with compost or manure providing the organic content. Silt and clay are to be no more that 10% silt and 20% clay in most specifications.

Typical topsoil specification: The following deals primarily with the base materials. Soil texture: Sandy loan, based on The Canadian System of Soil Classification, to the following average particle distribution and gradation:

  • Very coarse sand: 10%
  • Course and medium sand: 45%
  • Fine sand: 15%
  • Very fine sand: 10%
  • Clay: 20%

    NOTE: 55% of properly manufactured topsoil consists of very coarse to medium sand. Silt content should be no more than 10%.

Sand vs Silt

Avoid soil manufactured with a high percentage of silt. Silt dries out during the summer and becomes very hard. This leads to an unhealthy grass plant and an increase in the growth of weeds. The remedy to correct this condition is expensive and time consuming. Usually several years of aerating the lawn and adding a sand based topdressing to increase the soil depth, loosen the silt with the addition of sand and permit nutrients to reach the plant root system.

Importance of pH

Nearly all plants prefer the pH of the soil to be in the neutral zone (6.5 - 7.5) to flourish. Plants are able to absorb and assimilate nutrients much more easily when the soil has the proper pH and the topsoil is made to specifications.

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