What Grass Grows in Clay Soil?

Clay soil and Grass? Sounds unfamiliar right? Well, here we have for you what grass grows in clay soil? Are you dreaming of walking barefoot in your yard on a summer evening? Can you see that luscious lawn with healthy grasses in your yard? I can hear your lawn scream barbeque feast. But, Clay is not an easy soil to work with but it has high nutrients.

Depending on the weather, location, water, and air, the types of soil change. We will give you the types of grass that grow in clay soil with the maintenance of it.

To also know grass seed for sandy soil, click here. 

What are the facts about Clay Soil?

Clay soil is dense and heavy. Clay soil is made of lots of fine particles but doesn’t have organic matter like other soils. Clay soil can hold water causing problems in aeration and resulting in suffocation. They have lots of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Clay soil has many uses in construction, ceramics, pottery, cosmetic products, medicine, and decoratives rather than just for growing plants.https://www.soilminerals.com/soil-ph-for-bermuda-grass

To identify clay soil, you can send for a soil test to determine it or you can do it on your own. It is important to verify before selecting the grass for soil. 

  • If it rains, it won’t drain out but rather make a mud puddle.
  • If you notice clay soil breaks when it dries out.

Clay soil can be improved in many ways. Core aeration with the help of machines and cords. This type works better before any plant in soil. Liquid aeration works better even with grass on the lawn. They break up the clay particles making the water and roots penetrate deep into the soil. Adding the clay soil with topsoil and compost is a must as they lack nutrients on their own.

What Grass Grows in Clay Soil?

What Grass Grows Best in Clay Soil : Guide

Yes, grass can be grown in clay soil even though it might sound strange. It can be done with the right amount of nutrients and organic matter along with aeration and water drainage. As mentioned above, clay soil can be used with proper amendments for cultivation. Clay soil can be hard to work with because of its nature but with proper aeration either core liquid can be suitable for grass growth and other cultivation purposes. The biggest benefit of clay soil is the capacity to hold the nutrients and water in it.

According to the USDA

  • Kentucky Bluegrass is able to withstand the pressure of heavy grazing. 
  • When bluegrass has been properly grazed, allow at least 21 days for it to recover before resuming grazing.
  • Bluegrass is adapted to well-drained, loamy, or heavier textured soils. Does best in soils with the soil of limestone origin. Bluegrass grows one to two feet tall, reproducing both by budding and by seeding.

Can I put Topsoil over Clay?

Yes, you can put topsoil over clay. Apply at least 6 inches of topsoil over the existing clay soil. Check on amending the clay soil before applying topsoil to it. Even topsoil is good for clay. As topsoil contains equal amounts of clay, silt, and sand with rich nutrients in it, they make the most out of any soil. The rich topsoil helps the lawn to grow healthy grass, plant, tree, or shrubs. Even if the topsoil has organic matter, they need 2 inches of organic matter in topsoil. The organic matter like peat moss, plant waste like bark, sawdust, and leaves, and animal waste such as compost, and manure to get a healthy Topsoil.

How do you break down Clay Soil quickly?

Clay soil and Grass

  • First is to aerate the soil and let the air flow better and then amending the soil properly will help the soil stay in the right condition. It also helps in the growth of plants. 
  • To break down clay soil, First water the soil, and when it is full, dig up small portions and aerate it. Or let it dry and till it and aerate the soil.
  • The aeration can be core or liquid which mostly helps in breaking down the soil. Adding the right amount of organic matter to soil also helps maintain the soil. Clay soil has no nutrients so it may often need organic matter.

Clay soil can be found in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and Wisconsin.

How to Prepare Clay Soil for Growing Grass?

Every soil needs to be prepared before planting. Clay soil should also be treated before planting grass seeds. Opening the soil for 25 mm and treating it with nutrients and organic matter is necessary. Clay soil should be tested and treated accordingly. Adding compost and organics must be blended into the topsoil. 

Clay soil is naturally rich in nutrients and has a high water-holding capacity. This is a bonus for your lawn in times of drought. Grass in clay soil thus has low maintenance, saving owners time and money. Clay soil has rich nutrients such as calcium and magnesium. This saves time and money in using fertilizer. Probably you buy nutrients less frequently or possibly not at all!

After adding topsoil, mix the topping into the ground well. After this step let the soil rest for two months. After that do a quality test before adding the grass seed. Try making a thin ribbon in the soil ball and if it rolls perfectly then the soil quality is good for seeding.

What Grass Grows best in Clay Soil: A Brief List


Choosing the right grass seed starts not just from selecting the soil but also from the climatic condition. The best grass that grows in clay soil is :

1. Grass seed that grows in a warm climate

Bermuda Grass

 As a lover of warm climates, Bermuda grass is king in clay soil. They grow vigorously and love to be in sunlight. Their roots grow deep (more than 6 inches) and take the moisture when needed so they survive more than other grasses. Bermuda grass needs a soil pH of 6 and water of 1 inch per week.

Zoysia Grass

The second best grass type for warm climates is Zoysia grass. They have a root deep of 2 inches. Do well in drought They hold water well and are a type of perennial grass.  They have fibrous roots and need soil with 6.8 pH to have healthy growth.

Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass is low maintenance and is native to America. They thrive in warm climates but have off for three months and are green in other months. So if you are okay with that then it is a great idea. They go well with a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

2. Grass seeds that grow best in a cool climate 

Tall Fescue Grass

The great grass type for cool climate clay soil. They can hold partial or full sun shade. They have roots deep to 3 inches and need water 1 and a half inches per week. This grass makes the perfect match for clay soil as they are drought tolerant and need less aeration.

Perennial Ryegrass 

In this cool weather, grass germinates quickly. They have the deepest roots of any other grass. They are mostly used as add-ons to other grasses. They need water for 2 weeks once but in large quantities and should have an acidic nature to soil to mild alkaline. 

Kentucky Bluegrass

Bluegrass is found in golf courses, indoor sports grounds, and camping. They can survive in the sun and are best for lawns. With the average growth of roots and regular watering, they do well in clay soil.

Tips to have a Great Grass Lawn: Don’t blindly trust that you can easily grow a healthy lawn in your clay soil. Because from what you read above you know it’s definitely not easy. But from my experience, I learned that with the right preparation and proper maintenance(for sure not easy), you can achieve your dream yard.


What is the best grass seed for clay soil?

Fescue, Buffalo, and Bermuda grass are the best grass seed for clay soil.

Will grass seed grow if I just throw it down?

Well, yes. If you want a good lawn you should plant it properly with a proper gap in it or the view won’t be pleasant if the grass is grown.