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Is Compacted Soil Hurting My Lawn?

The Cold, "Hard" Truth

Compacted soil is one of the most common and under-diagnosed causes for an unhealthy lawn in Utah County, UT. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil, or if your lawn receives a lot of heavy foot traffic, your lawn is likely being affected.

How does compacted soil affect my lawn?

If your soil is compacted it will be more difficult for your lawn to hold or absorb water and cycle nutrients. Also, it can be much more difficult for new seed to germinate given that the lawn is being starved of water, oxygen and other vital nutrients.

What are the signs that the soil in my lawn is compacted?

  • Run-off of water
  • Pooling or puddling of water in low areas
  • Shallow root system
  • Bare areas without grass or weeds
  • Slow or stunted growth
When your soil is compacted, water cannot penetrate the root system. This results in run-off and pooling of water in areas of your lawn. Therefore, even though you may be watering your lawn, your grass is still dehydrated and may appear yellow or dry in areas. Compacted soil can also make it more difficult for fertilizers and other vital nutrients to reach the plant’s root system hindering its growth.

How can I check if my soil is compacted?

There is a simple test for determining if your soil is compacted. Use either a screwdriver, or any other form of metal rod and use steady pressure try to push it into the lawn. The object should be able to penetrate the soil without too much difficulty if your soil is healthy. If it will not penetrate or if the object gets stuck, that is a sign that your soil is compacted.

What should I do if the soil in my lawn is compacted?

One of the best remedies for compacted soil is core aeration. Core aeration is the process of removing small “cores” or “plugs” of soil from your lawn. This helps to reduce tension and compaction by loosening up the soil and allowing for water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. It is recommended that homeowners aerate their lawn once per year. In short, soil compaction is caused when pressure collapses the air pockets within the soil. Therefore, any activities such as heavy foot traffic, parked cars or using heavy machinery on the lawn should be avoided. If you have any questions regarding soil compaction and aeration, contact your local Weed Man or visit our Resources page!
Brought to you by Weed Man Utah County, UT: we care for your lawn.