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How to Fix Compacted Lawn Soil?

Soil Health
4 min read

Learning how to fix compacted soil can make a world of difference in your lawn. Grass plants depend on their root systems for water and nutrients. When roots can’t penetrate the soil, the grass will stop growing, and your lawn will start to look thin and unhealthy and become more susceptible to weeds, diseases and pests.

Jonathan Green has been working for more than 100 years to bring beautiful dark-green lawns to our clients using only the highest quality materials. Since 1881, we have experimented with turfgrass varietals to breed our genetically superior grass seed. We are dedicated to providing our clients with the absolute best, so all of our products are rigorously tested to ensure that they perform to the highest standards.

What Causes Compacted Soil

Soil should be light and airy so that the tiny root hairs of grass plants can penetrate it. Soil compaction is a common cause of a struggling lawn.

Compaction occurs when microorganisms consume most of the organic matter in the soil. This compresses the soil particles and reduces the pore space between them, making the soil too dense and preventing roots from getting to the air, water, and nutrients they need.

To find out if your soil is compacted, try pushing a screwdriver into the soil. It should be able to easily penetrate at least six inches deep. You can also remove a chunk of soil from the turf and dig into the soil below with a spade. If the soil is hard to get through, then you have hard (compacted) soil.

Improving Compacted Soil

Loosening compacted soil can be done in a number of ways. For larger lawns, you can use a core aerator, a gas-powered machine that will remove small plugs of soil from the ground. It can also be done manually with a manual core aerator which has a handle and a foot bar with several hollow tines or spikes attached. Hold the handle with both hands while you drive it into the soil.

For longer-lasting results, consider adding humate-rich, gypsum-based amendments to the soil.  These amendments will foster earthworm populations to support natural, biological aeration of the soil. Gypsum-based amendments will assist in natural, chemical aeration of the soil.

Jonathan Green Mag-I-Cal® Plus is a natural, humate-rich, three-in-one soil food that will loosen hard soil, stimulate soil microbes, and adjust soil pH. It breaks up compacted soil for better air, water, and root penetration. The product is available in two formulas: Mag-I-Cal® Plus for Lawns in Acidic & Hard Soil and Mag-I-Cal® Plus for Lawns in Alkaline & Hard Soil. It should be used every season to keep your soil biology and chemistry balanced.

If the soil is very compacted, use Jonathan Green Love Your Soil®  to loosen and aerate it. Love Your Soil® will also feed soil microbes, make the soil more alive and porous, enhance root development, and offers about 25% more soil-loosening power than MAG-I-CAL® Plus. 

Visit Jonathan Green online or visit your nearest independent retail store for reliable lawn care advice on how to fix compacted lawn soil. You will find that reducing compaction is well worth the effort.

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