How to grow grass?


I recently moved to North Carolina and most of my lot is red muddy clay. There use to be an old barn on the property before and nothing but prickly weeds. How do I properly grow grass here? I heard the clay soil is tough to grow. Is there a safe weed killer to use as there are pastures surrounding the property and cows?

q how to grow grass
  5 answers
  • Frances Meredith Frances Meredith on Jan 26, 2019

    Clay isn’t good for growing much of anything except mud. Lol. Order a load of topsoil to spread around or use that stuff they grow along interstates with purplish pink flowers. Sod also would work.

  • My husband’s line of work is grassing, seeding and erosion control so I had him answer this question. We live in South Carolina which also has clay soil. He said:

    ”First start off by grabbing a sandwich bag full of dirt and take it to nearest soil analysis center.

    Granular lime applied at a rate of 4000lbs and acre would help the acidity.

    A 10-10-10 fertilizer is not a bad idea as well, 500 lbs to the acre.

    The red clay has a hard time releasing the nutrients for grass to grow.”

    As far as the safe weed killer, I’ve heard pouring boiling water or vinegar on weeds works.

    Cute house, by the way!

  • Cute house! Love NC! Will be visiting this spring.

    I second Tricia's suggestion, have the soil analyzed and go from there, you will need to bring in loads of top soil for sure, but be careful to make sure it is "topsoil" and not "fill dirt."

    To kill off the existing weedy mess, vinegar will work and is non toxic. Stay away from any of the round up products or anything with glyphosate as an ingredient. I use in a pump sprayer, and vinegar is cheap, so be liberal. Needs to be repeated after every rain or snow event. Costco, Sam's Club or any restaurant supply house sells for about $2 a gallon or less. I buy at Sam's Club - 2 gallons for $3.49.

  • Joy30150932 Joy30150932 on Jan 27, 2019

    Tricia has the right answer. The base for any lawn is most important before you seed or sod and a good base makes it less work for the upkeep. Purchase seed that would be compatible for the hot zone in your area, such as heat resistant. There are new grass seeds out now that take very little water once they have germinated. Sod is the quickest way to go but a little more expensive. On an area that large I would go with the sod if it is available in your area.

  • Lydia Weikel Cox Lydia Weikel Cox on Jan 27, 2019

    Several thoughts: 1) vinegar, or boiling water will kill current weeds, but neither is a long-term solution for emerging weeds. Corn gluten sprinkled liberally in targeted areas will prevent new seeds from germinating, but may need re-application after rains. Some weed seeds can live on in the soil for YEARS, like 50 yrs or longer, emerging when the soil is moved and sun, heat and moisture conditions are just right. So, sorry, but realize you may be dealing with some of these emerging weeds for years to come, and learn how to best deal with the particular weeds you have. 2) if there is farm or pasture still around or near the home, there is likely to be additional seeding by wind and birds, again, continuing your battle. 3) depending on the size of your lot, and your finances, the task of amending present soil, adding topsoil + grass seed, or laying sod, could be expensive, though getting a soil test is DEFINITELY a good idea!, 4) a key to staying on top of weed growth and spread in a lawn is keeping the lawn well maintained so a thick mat of grass can be nurtured to crowd out weed growth, and that weeds are cut before they set new seed. That may require a commitment to watering, fertilizing and mowing regularly. Take this into consideration as you grow (pun intended) your plans for the lawn of your dreams. Can you/will you commit the time and resources for the years ahead? Perhaps, adjust your plan for the space, and make a multi-year plan. 5) some "weeds" are actually highly nutritious or beneficial plants, that you may want to limit in certain areas, but encourage to grow in a protected and limited space. Make the effort to ID what weeds you have growing, and what encourages/discourages growth. (ex: Purslane is cultivated for eating in Italy, breaks off easily when plucked from hard dry soil vs coming up by the root, and each leaf or stem portion left on soil after weeding can start a new plant in addition to new growth coming from the roots still in soil. It thrives in poor soil and hot dry weather, covering bare soil with its low-to-the-ground, spreading growth pattern. It can be added to salads or cooked & is highly nutritious.)

    So, I present this idea: It appears this is a new structure with no plantings. Reduce the effort in establishing a nice lawn to a portion of the lot where you want nice grass for kids to play, or for aesthetics from the road, or what ever priority you have, to make the task manageable. Additionally, consider mapping out up to 3' or 4' all around your house, but certainly between the garage and across the porch, for a "flower bed" that could include some bushes. Also plan out a walkway from the drive to the front porch and push some of those stones currently against the house into a slightly curving path, dug a few inches deep, filled with the stones, and then some stepping stones or slate pieces on top. There could be more done there at a later time as funds allow, but for the immediate future, it helps define the entrance, adds beauty, and provides a means for rain water to flow below the stepping stones to keep red clay mud out of your house! Put perennial plants in the flower/bush beds that are native to your area, or that otherwise handle hot and dry weather well. Include some that may flower in fall and winter for year-round appeal. (Lantana, Aloe, verbena, coneflower are plants that come immediately to mind for hot, dry, poor soil). A porus weed barrier can go down against existing soil, with topsoil and amendments concentrated above right where you need them for your plants on top, also limiting weed breakthrough. Top off the bed with 3-4 inches of mulch, which will eventually break down making better soil over time. (I believe pine needles are frequently used in your area.) Add another 2" or so each year to keep it fresh looking. It will be easy to see emerging weeds to be pulled by hand or treated with vinegar or boiling water, even as you enjoy the beauty of your garden! (Does wonders for stress and the body too!) Meanwhile, you will have a smaller portion of yard to be working on creating lawn! If the lot is very large, consider planting areas with some trees along a border, or a plot with native mixed flowers from a seed packet of mixed flowers. Those generally include both annuals and perennials for a long display of blooms, some of which you may then elect to use in later seasons in your garden beds, by your walkway, or by a light or mailbox post. When you are ready to extend your yard, they can be mowed over or dug up. HTHs! Have fun and enjoy!