Front yard re-do: soggy wet soil

jenn(SoCal 9/19)December 13, 2009

Our front yard re-do is going well, but I'm worried about the soggy, wet clay soil getting walked on when the workers return on Monday. The soil is amended from previous plantings, but I'm concerned it will become compacted in the coming week. I'd like to ask them to wait a week to let it dry a little, but that's probably not possible as they have other jobs lined up.

Am I unduly concerned in this case? I've been telling myself to not worry about what I can't control... this too shall pass, etc...... but it's hard not to wonder when I look out and see puddles of water on the soil.... :-(

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Yes it will be compacted by all that traffic when the soil is saturated. I would not do a thing until the soil was dry enough to work. When it would work easily and the clods would break up I would work vegetative matter in the form of compost into the soil to recapture the lost soil structure before planting. Al

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 8:48AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Sigh.... I'm afraid it may be difficult to get the designer to agree to postpone any work for most of a week, since he no doubt has other jobs lined up after this one ends. He's not rushing (which is nice -- they take they're time to do a nice job, and re-do things if necessary), but I'll be surprised if he'll want to postpone it that long. I will ask though, and see what he says.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 11:11AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

If you have the room to do so, make sure you apply a good 3 to 4 inch depth of organic mulch after everything is planted. I suspect that even with these recent rains, your soil isn't getting wet much below 2 to 3 inches of depth at most, so severe compaction can be overcome with a good mulch. Shredded mulches that allow water penetration are best for allowing soil texture to repair itself after being compacted. I wouldn't worry so much about it myself, especially if it is just worker's foot traffic, and not heavy equipment traffic/weight. You probably do more regular damage to your lawn by walking on it after it is wet than the compaction you are experiencing with the garden renovation.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 10:28PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

bahia, they already laid a very thick layer of shredded mulch prior to this weekend's rain... no doubt, it absorbed some of the water.

We were gone all day today and I decided against calling him this evening. He works a lot and I don't want to disturb his time with his family on a Sunday evening --- our soil isn't THAT important. I may ask him about it tomorrow when he arrives... he may decide on his own to postpone work if he thinks the soil is too wet to work.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 10:58PM
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I can relate. I'm in the middle of a huge re-do as well. I live in upper Rockridge in Oakland, and am having the yard re-terraced for improved access. In my case, they've been working for two months and I think they're only half done. I let them decide when they think they can safely work on the hillside. Where they have compacted the soil in places I want to plant I will have them amend it. In my case, they are building me lots of paths and steps, so I figure all they are doing is compacting the places that need compacting.

I'm trying to plant the areas they've completed-at least get some of the deciduous trees in place. I went out there yesterday afternoon, right after the rain stopped, and my soil was dripping wet a foot down. BUT-since my soil has years of Clodbreaker worked in and lots of mulch faithfully applied, it didn't compact when I dug it.

At one point when they dug into my hillside to widen a terrace, I was amazed to see that I had beautiful dirt 2 feet down. I've been mulching the soil for 12 years w/ American Soil's 1/4 inch fir bark, and when the back yard was originally terraced, I had them add in lots of Clodbreaker. That soil was a thing of beauty, unlike the nasty sticky stuff that was uncovered when they pulled out a hillside of ceanothus in untouched soil.

So.. you can improve clay soil if you keep at it.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 9:57AM
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