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The Best Type of Grass Seed for Red Clay Soil

By Contributor ; Updated September 21, 2017

Every homeowner dreams of having a lush green lawn. You hope when you buy or build a home is that there ere will be rich black soil, fertile with the nutrients needed to flourish already included, covering the front area of your new home. Unfortunately, a large portion of North America is not this way and has a percentage of clay in the soil. It is difficult to grow anything in clay soil. If you have soil that cracks or comes up in large layers when dry, then you likely have clay soil.

Preparing and Testing the Clay

Some people have their soil tested to see if any additives are needed. Adding anything to adjust the pH of your clay without a proper test may result in a poorer quality lawn. This is an inexpensive test and will save you extra expense and headaches later. Adding compost to the clay or other organic matter will help make the soil richer and more nutrient filled. It also will keep the clay soil loose enough for the seeds to germinate and roots to grow in the manner needed for a lush lawn. Enrich the soil when preparing for planting by tilling or digging in several inches of compost to the soil, with a new lawn, making it almost seeming like a raised bed at first. This will settle soon. After the seed is started, adding about a 1/4 inch compost to the top once or twice a year will boost your lawn.

Basic Seed Choices

There are a few varieties of grass seed which will thrive in red clay soil. Bermuda is the most commonly used because of its tough qualities. Fescue is a good choice for shadier lawns due to its durability and drought resistance. Fescue mixed with bluegrass provides a tight compact root system and durability in heavy traffic. Centipede grass is another choice; the shallow root structure makes it perfect for the tough red clay soil. Zoysia is good for smaller lawns where rotary blade mowers can be used. Fescue mixed with bluegrass is a popular choice for clay soils as it will have a tight compact root system and durability in heavy traffic.

Specialty Grasses

The desire for a lush lawn in any soil has boosted the need for more specialized grass seeds. Eco-Lawn uses approximately 25 percent of the water used by more traditional seeds. Canada Green Perfect Grass is a specialty grass seed containing a fertilizer and mulch mixture.

Alternatives to Seed

If seeding the yard doesn't work, alternative ways are available. You might try sod or plugs, or you might try an alternative ground covering. Ground coverings are good because they not only fill in gaps in lawns with a lush coverings, they also shade the ground underneath the plant, keeping the soil looser. Some alternatives are the clovers, allyssa and juniper.

Work it For a Beautiful Lawn

There are so many ways to have a beautiful yard in red clay, that with a little legwork, a little startup, manual labor and a lot of love, you too can have a beautiful lawn. Having red clay does not mean nothing grows. It simply takes a little more effort to get a lush green lawn.


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